Skip to comments.'You Can't Turn Back the Ocean' (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Posted on 01/29/2008 11:29:52 AM PST by Milhous
MTV's Kurt Loder on the delusions of celebrity culture, the coming collapse of mainstream media outlets, and the rising tide of free expression that can't be stopped
Reason: Major record companies complain they’re losing market share and revenue. Major daily newspapers say the same thing. Broadcast networks still command a huge audience, but it’s much smaller than before. The big outlets don’t seem to have the monopoly on audience they once did. Is the decentralization of audience, of culture, a good thing?
Kurt Loder: We’re better off with new technology. Music is proliferating in a way it never has before. CDs are over. DVDs will soon be over. You’ll download this stuff. I think it’s a good thing. Record companies will change. They’ll have to.
Copyright is going to be the big change. I think creators should be paid for their work. I’m on that side of the debate. If you make a record, you should be paid for it. Record companies do pay artists for the music they make, eventually. It’s remarkable how little they pay them—initially, especially. If you’re a young band, you’re going to make nothing originally. Maybe on your third record, you’ll start making money. It’s pretty amazing.
We used to live in a command-media world. You had no choice but to look at NBC, CBS, ABC; there was nothing else. If you wanted big stories, you went to The New York Times or The Washington Post. I think blogging and the Internet have changed that entirely. They’ve shattered the monopoly on information.
To give just one example: The “Baghdad Diarist” in The New Republic [a soldier who wrote an article describing alleged bad behavior by U.S. troops in Iraq] was a total fraud. It was exposed by military bloggers who came out and said this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago.
Reason: As a journalist, how do you feel about the audience fact-checking you? And having direct access to you?
Loder: Some people are always going to call you an idiot. Some people are going to say you’re great or you’re an a**hole. You have to get used to that. But that’s good too. It’s good to hear directly what people think. It’s good to get rid of filters. I think we live in a great, hopeful age for media. I think it’s the best of all possible times.
Anybody can be heard now. You put something out into the ocean of the Internet, and it bounces all over everywhere because things can be passed on so well. It’s a great time to be a filmmaker because the technology we have allows you to make films and upload them, and people can see your work. You can make digital music and upload it, and people will hear it. This is the golden age of communication.
Reason: One of the great bogeymen of contemporary media discourse is the consolidation of media ownership. MTV itself is part of a giant conglomerate. Why shouldn’t fewer companies owning more outlets be worrisome?
Loder: MTV is part of Viacom, which controls Paramount, and so on and so forth. It’s the evil empire, right? But these giants—Time Warner, Viacom—are facing an upstart culture now. Things are coming from the ground up, and they can’t really deal with it all. They’re very upset about their content being taken and simply uploaded on [the video sharing site] YouTube. Viacom has a billion-dollar lawsuit against YouTube.
They can’t really fight it. They have to become part of it. They have to buy part of it.
Reason: Should we worry about attempts, whether legal or technological, to clamp down on culture?
Loder: You can’t turn back the ocean. I don’t think there can be a clampdown. You can’t go back to three channels and two or three national newspapers. It’ll never happen again. There’s too much good journalism online. I love newspapers and magazines, but I think they’re on the way out. And that may not be a bad thing.
Reason: How’s your ideology received at MTV?
Loder: I don’t go around preaching it. I mean, people know what I think. People in the media are sort of liberal. I don’t know if you’ve noticed that. It’s a liberal world. I don’t know why that is. Maybe they all go to the same school or something. As [ABC News’] John Stossel says, this is the water they swim in, and they don’t even notice it. But not everyone in the media is liberal. Apparently at The Wall Street Journal, there are a lot of Democrats on staff.
Still, they let me do what I want to do. I’ve got to give them that.
Reason: How do your views play with your younger colleagues at MTV? What political trends do you see among the kids who watch MTV?
Loder: It’s hard to generalize about younger people because they’re all different. I think you’d be surprised at how many people are not entirely, screamingly liberal. When I reviewed Sicko, you’d be surprised at the number of people in my company who emailed me and said, “You know, you got that exactly right. I’m glad somebody finally said that about this guy.” You never know where support is going to come from.
Reason: Rock and roll has always been viewed as an instrument of rebellion. Yet it seems that performers are increasingly establishment in their views, and unapologetic about inflicting their politics on their audiences. They’ve gone from saying “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and “Down with the man” to defending Social Security and pushing for national health care. What do you think about that?
Loder: I don’t remember Elvis Presley telling us what to do about global warming. Nobody should ever expect millionaire celebrities to save the world. I don’t know if you remember the Time magazine that had Bono on the cover and asked, “Can Bono Save the World?” Well, the answer is no.
All these people seem to have an opinion. I find it boring myself, but if you’re 15 years old, you might find it rousing. I have no need for it.
Decentralization is a very good thing when the monopoly attempts to control every thought, idea, and story released to the public in an effort to follow a clandestine agenda for political purposes.
Is Kurt Loder a FReeper? I would never have expected him to say all this. Way to go!
A breath of fresh air from this guy!
From Kurt Loder, huh? Imagine that.
I like this. This is good.
I don’t know, but after reading his Sicko review when the film came out, my esteem for the man grew by leaps and bound (and imagine my shock, at the time, reading that review and coming away exactly teh opposite impression that I expected—I guess assuming things really isn’t such a hot idea sometimes ;)
The Wikipedia entry for him says he considers himself a libertarian.
This election is the last hurrah by PRAVDABCNNBCBS and the major left wing fishwraps will continue to fade away.
We must defeat whomever, the Rats nominate for President, that would be the finale for the left wing MSM.
I have no ax to grind with Kurt Loder, and agree with him on much of what he says above.
I just want to make the observation that on a TV interview I saw with him recently, he had the hang dog look and sickly pallor of the chronic alcoholic. Despite his evident intelligence, he had more than a little trouble expressing himself with any amount of conviction or clarity. He was a man at sea. He reminded me of the alcoholic poet John Berryman, who I met just before his death in 1972.
I’m not saying any of this to smear Loder, although I guess these remarks don’t seem very kind. But I recognized in him a boozer in the depths of his addiction, who just may have too much smarts to get help before it kills him.