Marinko Vorgić: 'Scandal as the Measure of Media Competitiveness'
Just like the free market shedding its accountability for the survival of the man in the street over the past two decades, so have the free media been shedding their accountability for their reports. As opposed to the champions of the market and corporate concepts, who describe the libertinism of a large share of contemporary print and TV outlets as the new media reality, the champions of speech, the freedom of which is still subject to the supervision of accountability, perceive these two decades mostly as an epoch of unprecedented devastation of the media. Such a fate has also befallen talk shows, which have for years been providing the general population with substantial insight in the socio-political, cultural and scientific reappraisals and polemics, turning this TV form into a powerful educational and public opinion tool. The hypertrophy of this form – there are hardly any TV stations that have not been broadcasting at least two if not more talk shows on a daily basis – has been accompanied by its banalization.
This is primarily the consequence of the increasingly brutal market rules, under which scandal has become the measure of media competitiveness, which has, in a way, forced all TV forms to resort to reality show methods. Since realitization cannot occur without radicalization, the initially more or less decent reality show form has transformed into the next, now predominant hardcore stage, the stage of scandal and repulsiveness, verging on the pathological. The presumption - that this increasingly frequently trodden path will end in the transformation of the destructive and the tragic into seductive content and show – seems less and less a dystopian paranoia. Indeed, isn’t all this carnival-like necrophilia, which has turned into the rabid exploitation of the worst tragedies and crimes by many of today’s media, an overture to this genesis? Once we understand that the realitization concept rests on the “outdistancing” mechanism, according to which today’s scandal must be more scandalous than yesterday’s, we will understand all the potential consequences of continuing to reconcile ourselves with the market justification of that concept.
The Vicinities project in a way restores the classical talk show concept, banished from the media scene by noise and profanity. Vicinities is based on the classical concept of TV itself, and it can basically be described as a trinity: of information, education and entertainment. It needs to be highlighted that, thanks to their professionalism and experience, the project implementers have been deftly building on the first two obligations, by introducing the dynamic characteristic of our time and expanding the thematic framework to new phenomena, which are inevitably accompanied by broader visual solutions and discourse. Vicinities, both in form and content, also moves away from that slow-motion seriousness opponents of tabloidization and realitization so easily succumb to in their frequent reluctance to consult with the epoch, offering us TV-unfriendly discussions, all with the aim of illustrating what they should look like.
Most importantly, Vicinities is a specific and sincere media project working on mutual understanding in our region. This is especially relevant because the term “mutual understanding” is understood here as a kind of incantation that can turn our xenophobic politicians into the darlings of the developed world, bringing the most points to hunters of international grants, to which they invite beauty pageant winners and their runners up, to whom the beaming laureates of various prizes reaffirm their humanistic views; by chanting this mantra, most war profiteers have managed to at least render their “track record” invisible, if not legalize it.
During its five seasons, Vicinities has peeled the hypocritical magic aura off this incantation, demonstrating that mutual understanding need not always be a mere desirable rhetorical trump card in talks, but that is can function as well.