Thursday, November 25, 2010

Notes on the psychology of exploitation media

Media is central to a great many subjects, from internet to government. The high utility of the concept of exploitation media deserves recognition.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy I discovered a satisfying definition of exploitation from [Hill, J. L., 1994, “Exploitation,” Cornell Law Review, 79, pp. 631-99.]. That is

“[E]xploitation is a psychological, rather than a social or an economic, concept. For an offer to be exploitative, it must serve to create or to take advantage of some recognized psychological vulnerability which, in turn, disturbs [perturbs] the offeree's ability to reason effectively [rationally as self in context of society and economy].”

Hill is clearly an astute thinker, from "A Utilitarian Theory of Duress" to "Mill, Freud, and Skinner: The concept of the self and the moral psychology of liberty".

This definition satisfies the character of exploitation in media as observed to get one "high" -- from television and film to video games and including crossover media that blend fiction, provocation and promotion with non fiction (for example Fox News). Naturally, such pleasures will tend to "leak" from the perception of fantasy into interactions with the physical world via both conscious and subconscious elements of mind. The observation of these phenomena is very common.

In the history of cinema, exploitation may be defined in terms of distraction. References are often made to exploitation in the promotion of a film -- which is clearly a useful distinction. For example, it is common among television series for the title sequence to be highly exploitative while the primary content may not be so, or far less so. Indeed, advertising and promotion tend to be exploitative.

It's not uncommon to observe an apparent belief that all media is exploitation. Which of course is not true, but a projection of a personal state of mind onto "reality". Many producers of media endeavor to do more than to maximize profit, recognizing that pure exploitation is not durable or satisfying (or both).

Sometimes promotion can be the sharing of a fact of existing opportunity. And sometimes excitement is sincere joy. While in some cases these things can be no more (or too little more) than manipulation.

Internet media combine elements recognized from the prior history of media with interaction. Interactive and non interactive media each possess capacities for exploitation in distraction from utility and substance for self in society and economy.

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