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BloggingOn 10.4 - A Significant Thread In The Fabric Of My Pop-Addled Consciousness

I was probably thirteen or so the first time I saw Pump Up the Volume. It's one of several movies that I've seen twenty or thirty times. These two biographical footnotes should tell you that what I'm about to say should probably be tempered with common sense and good taste. I think it's fecking brilliant, but then I probably don't have the most unadulterated view on that score.

Speaking of a tinted perspective, it could be that the blogosphere is showing up everywhere, or it could be that I'm just seeing it everywhere. Either way, I'd be interested to know if anyone else thinks this little flick has something to contribute to our class discussion.

So, Christian Slater has this little pirate radio station (blog) on which he plays offensive and sometimes wacky music, feigns on-air masturbation, complains about Amerika/high school/society in general, responds to reader mail (comments), and basically stirs things up.

He is an instigator for social change, but broadcasts (posts) under a pseudonym (screen name) and disguises his voice, thus concealing his identity from his family, teachers, classmates, etc. In real life he is socially inept, completely unable to communicate with anyone, but on the air (online) he is able to fully express himself without being hindered by inhibitions in any way at all.

The climax of the movie (and this is the part that really interests me) comes when he is forced out of anonymity by the FCC, faces his social anxieties, fears and inhibitions and is united with the zealous throng he is responsible for creating. Just after he is carted off by the FCC (while delivering his now signature line: Talk Hard*) the audio is overpowered by several individual voices (bloggers) delivering what we can only assume are their new pirate radio shows (blogs).

I don't think the parallel is such a stretch, but more interesting is that the narrative finds it's tension in the conflict between communicating under cover of anonymity and communicating directly as oneself. It's out of the attempt to communicate in this way that the "hero's journey" reaches fruition. For our blogs to be "useful" perhaps they need to facilitate this journey from the anonymity to full self-expression.

Oh yeah, we should all watch Talk Radio, too.

*Memes play an interesting part in the story as well. Some of the memes that circulate: talk hard, the truth is a virus, so be it, etc.

5 Responses to “”

  1. Blogger Transgenderedtrash 

    It is a great analogy but the one thing it lacks is the one thing I find lacking with a comparison of blogs to any other media. In the movie (the only decent film Christian Slater ever did) he has the power to "maybe" drive someone to suicide. Blogs are so tedious and short-termed that they lack any power to really motivate. Listening to pirate radio one could get the gist of the broadcasters argument in a short period of time. Blogs are comprised of give and take; and real emotion is short term so any power that the blog possesses is lost as opinions are formed.

    One of Harry's strengths is his inflection, the thought that he can motivate many more people, the power of his personal audio persuasion. People are drawn to him because he can adapt what they are saying and repackage it in a more coherent way. He can make their message say what they really want it to say. Blogging, one has to wait for the comment.

    To give you perspective about my family? We watched Talk Radio on Thanksgiving night. We are a cheery bunch.

  2. Anonymous Joe 

    Hmmm. I'm more stuck on the hero's journey conclusion.

    A key ingredient of the successful (or, in Campbell's way of telling it, the successfully archetypal) hero's journey is the hero discovering, acknowledging, and integrating the darkest deepest part of himself (like watching Talk Radio on Thanksgiving).

    Nothing about the blogosphere precludes that kind of deep dive, but the fleeting and almost-by-design interactive (outward-looking) nature of the blog doesn't exactly foster the dive.

  3. Blogger Mattyd 

    How great it was to read this post. You'll never imagine the joy it brought to me. I'm a Pump Up the Volume fan who is often taunted by friends and a fiancee who assume that because of the movie's name and its lead actor that the movie is crap.

    But I agree with you, and I think your analogy is well formulated. More importantly, I think that others underestimate the power of the blog to influence and motivate. After all, we're talking about the written word here, and the the written word has proven itself to be able to motivate great numbers of people. Why a blog couldn't gain the power of something like Paine's Common Sense seems shortsighted to me. The comment that "Blogs are so tedious and short-termed that they lack any power to really motivate" seems to discount the tremendous following that blogs have. And short-termed? Posts may roll over into an archive section, but the words live just as much in the consciousness of the reader as the words of a book read long ago and relegated to the bookshelf.

  4. Blogger ericdbernasek 

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Blogger ericdbernasek 

    Glad I threw this one up there, after all.

    Is Talk Radio a Thaksgiving tradition?

    Blogs may be missing inflection, ut they're definitely missing _music_. Still, I'd like to think that a well-placed (er, well-somethinged) blog could inspire others to take action. I don't think we've seen any examples yet, but...

    And there must be some high schooler(s) out there cranking out the modern day version of your underground newspaper (blog). There is. Read more.

    This one was probably started by David Deaver.

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