If the “postponement” of the ABC 20/20 manosphere “exposé” has taught us anything it’s that the writers seeking to cast light on the manosphere are looking for crazy. They need crazy because it’s the only thing they know how, or have the patience, to confront in as minimal an effort as it takes to type a few paragraphs dismissing it as misogyny.
Writers (vichy male writers) like R. Tod Kelly are also lazy. They see an opportunity for outrage that sells advertising. They wanted Stormfront and what they got was a global consortium of rational, well reasoned men with jobs, families and intelligence, men from all walks of life, all ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds expressing ideas that don’t fit into an acculturation of feminine primacy.
If you read Matt Forney’s 20/20 interview post you’ll see the desperation for crazy in their producer’s attempts to provoke him to become what they think he should be – a frothing, angry, hate-fueled misogynist. That would make it easy for them, they know how to sell crazy. The copy gets approved, the crazies get marginalized and we move on to the next Mabeline commercial.
But they didn’t get crazy from Matt, or Roosh (okay Paul Elam looks a bit like Charles Manson in a certain light)—they got well reasoned, sensibility that was hard to argue against, so they attempted to prompt the crazy by barraging Roosh with questions about rape in the hopes that he’d blow up. He wouldn’t. They wanted it to be easy. They wanted to know all they needed to know about the manosphere by sourcing Manboobz, interviewing three manosphere bloggers and then trot out the crazy, show off the carnival freak, demonize and marginalize him and frog march the crazy off the stage. They wanted fringe, the easy kind of fringe that their journalism, communications and women’s studies classes taught them the easy answers to confront it with.
But the manosphere isn’t fringe. For as much as R. Tod Kelly, or the producers at ABC would like it to be, the manosphere is too broad, too comprehensive, too diverse for anyone unfamiliar with it to really understand it, much less deliver an unbiased objective opinion of it. So Kelly follows formula and makes the same lame attempts at simple aspersion and misogynistic dismissal 20/20 had already failed in doing (as evidenced by their segment’s postponement). The Daily Beast wanted its formulaic red meat, but Kelly is just dishing out ABC’s cold left-overs.
Details of Elizabeth Vargas’ alcohol rehab not withstanding, the entire debacle of the cancelled (?) ABC 20/20 manosphere hit piece serves as an illustration of how out of touch the MSM is, not just with their distorted portrayal of the manosphere, but who their audience really is. Judgy Bitch has done an admirable detective job in shinning some light on the backgrounds of the girls responsible for generating their written piece, and also detailing the process they used to emphasize their distortions. However the entire affair, and all of the internet fallout that led up to ABC shutting down their comment thread after tiring of playing whack-a-mole with their comment deletions, exaggerated the impression for me that a “news” organization the caliber of what 20/20 used to be has absolutely no idea of how their audience’s media consumption landscape has changed.
As I walk through the various sales and marketing departments of the offices of the liquor brands and casinos I develop for, what do I see in every cubicle I pass? I see men and (primarily) women glued to their monitors, checking Facebook, or a blog, or a forum, or a news site. In all likelihood, you are reading ROK or Chateau Heartiste or Rational Male from a computer at work that miraculously isn’t censored by your company’s web filters.
The cube-lings’ only consistent connection to anything happening in the outside world invariably comes to them via their company’s internet when they’ve got “down time” which is usually a lot more than the actual work time they’re probably tasked with. Right or wrong it makes much more sense to the average cube dweller to consume media of their own choosing at their convenience, which is usually on their bosses’ dime, when things get boring. This is the new media consumption paradigm that at least ABC’s 20/20 freshmen crew of
producers interns seem genuinely surprised by. People consume media that they want to take an active part in. It’s not enough to be spoon-fed something to consider; people want and are now used to being actively engaged in the media and information of their own choosing. Whether that’s Mommy blogs, custom car forums, political blogs, or the manosphere, people now expect that degree of engagement.
I literally don’t watch TV anymore. If I could subscribe just to the NFL channel when the season’s on without a basic HD cable package I would drop cable entirely and stick to my AppleTV with subscriptions to Netlfix, Hulu or whatever else I think might be worth it. I’m far to busy a person to be on any media outlets’ schedule for my information or entertainment. Maybe I’m an outlier at this stage, but I think my lifestyle is becoming increasingly more common with regards to how I consume, as well as produce, media (products, promos, branding , etc.) A lot gets made these days about dual screen media consumption; where a viewer is watching something on the monitor and simultaneously “participating” in that consumption on Twitter or a live blog or even on a forum. Whether they believe their online input will actually direct the overall perception of what’s being broadcast is debatable, but what isn’t is the desire of media consumers to influence perception one way or another.
This is what the little girls responsible for the now failed 20/20 manosphere exposé didn’t anticipate – they sourced the same online communities that would hold them accountable before and after the piece would air. They weren’t writing for the cube, but they were happy to petition the cube and writers for the cube while naively believing that neither would actively engage them in the overall narrative of their misrepresentations. They weren’t writing for the cube, they were writing for a dying media form; they used new media to create a product to be delivered in an anachronistic format and it came back to bite them on the ass.
Need another example of this? Look no further than MTV’s Helena Kincaid’s petitioning the manosphere for exactly the same purpose, using exactly the same process as the interns at 20/20 did. Don’t ask the cube for anything you don’t expect to be held accountable for.
When you consider that media consumers will spend more hours with their eyes on their employer’s monitors than they will their own TVs, as a media producer, blogger, forum proprietor, etc. you must now write for the cube. Why does ROK or A Voice for Men outrank mainstream blogs in the Alexa ratings? Because it’s a topic and media that more people want to be engaged in. This entire affair puts ABC and anachronistic media delivery on notice, ignore the cube at your peril. Otherwise you might want to invest in hiring more digital media managers to delete blog comments about your story’s distortions or dissenting opinions; and even that wont stop the global perception.
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