Is North American cable TV news obscene?  It is to me and it would be to Jean Baudrillard as well.  

The ob-scene for media theorist Jean Baudrillard is not an ethically-loaded term of judgement over the morality of particular images.  Rather, the prefix ob refers to the idea of hindering or being against.

The ob-scene, therefore expresses the collapse of distance in our socio-cultural experiences.

Indeed, today there is no longer any social scene or stage of action that we view from a distance.  The intimacy of hyper-closeness is the very promise of TV, and particularly for news.

This collapse of distance has occurred across society to such an extent that sexual pornography is but only one extreme example of a wider atmosphere of social explicitness -- social pornography -- which I define as the widespread cultural manifestation of excessively explicit images... not necessarily of a sexual nature. 

‘Scenes’ of intimacy and reverence that were once traditionally viewed upon a ‘stage’ or alter necessitated a gap between the viewer and the actor (for instance, the proscenium arch).  But now all distance has imploded.  As Walter Benjamin reminds, aura is lost. 

However, the primary task of all media and information today is to produce the real... the extra real... ever closer... and to ever wider audiences.  Media telescopes, or zooms in the real, making it hyper-real.  

Visual media production today promotes too much of this real (as it often does -- from anthropological film to FOX News).  As it does, we along with our representations fall ever deeper into obscenity and thus pornography.  That is to say, visual explicitness demands a kind of zoom-in technique, taking us too near the real, and pornographying realities which previously only came into view through reflective distances

Today, North American cable TV news propagates the excessively explicit desire to see everything in close-up under the formal surfaces of cultural forms... not to mention the ever-higher resolution (definition) of our screen images throughout every technology.  These visual close-ups transgress our social much too pruriently, reproducing it obscenely, obliterating Barthesstudium, and leaving surreal totalities of punctum in their wake.

The above video is intellectual (Eisenstein) montage.  It is the explicit closeness of female genitals layered over (collided with) false, crass promotion in order to explore today’s obscene lack of distance (newscasting). 

                    Porn and News - Cameras and Guns.

The telescope on the rifle kills as surely as any bullet.

Allow me to state this case again: The telescope (vaginal close-ups, earnest newscaster lies into the zoom) on the rifle (photo camera, TV image) kills (objectifies obscenely) as surely as any bullet (message, content).  Whichever TV broadcaster or brand of righteousness you prefer; the ideology and method of close-ups conflate both the surreal and obscene, as exaggerated above.   And also here.  

                            Aura can be regained.

Here is a likewise approach, a reversed version: Abhort  This video attempts to ”shock” into view the equivalency of

(angry?) news-close-up to the collapse of social distance often found in explicit (pornographic?) media... both are unacceptable practices for public information dissemination.

Taylor, P. A., & Harris, J. LI. (2008). Critical theories of mass media: Then and now. New York: Open University Press (p:169).


FOX Nation   2009  (1:45)