FACING UP TO ELITISM: Not A Private Affair

Are you an elitist? Does the phrase make you insecure, vulnerable? is it a metaphor for other personal fears ? Meanwhile, it is usually elitists that accuse other elitists of being ….elitists.  Then how can they despise elitism? Can you be a self-hating elitist? This years selection by Time Magazine’s person of the year is one of the most complex, fascinating and intriguing choices ever.

The film ( The Social Network ) claims that after Zuckerberg quit Harvard his personal life spun out of control, with Parker helping him indulge his fantasies with a stream of “groupies”. Sorkin’s screenplay suggests Parker knew Zuckerberg was driven not just by money or fame but also sexual insecurity. While he is depicted as receiving sex in bars, Parker runs the business.

Yet Zuckerberg may have had the last laugh: Parker sold his share of the firm for about $200m. But, says Forbes, Zuckerberg is now worth $4 billion.

…It’s an unreasonable idea that nevertheless makes a kind of emotional sense. A stream of resentment flows beneath the attitude not entirely unlike the feeling that animates the Tea Party, or Pat Buchanan, or Glenn Beck, Michael Moore; a long history of “untrustworthy narrators”  in the United States. “Elite” and “elitism” are pejorative words that attract and repulse in equal measure. They clearly carry a powerful charge of insecurity and envy, as well as narcissism and alienation. And yet becoming part of an elite is in theory an intelligent goal. It is also an allegory for maintaining the status quo, and perpetuating white bourgeois values and male patriarchy “light”.And being an elite is something that is extremely important to Mark Zuckerberg.

"She looks at him when she speaks. His eyes wander the room or occasionally rest just outside the contours of her body, the gaze of an autistic. He’s terribly smart and wants her to know it, switching topics in mid-clause, half-expecting her to keep up, half-hoping she won’t. Like a good chess player (actually, like a good chess-playing computer), he’s mentally three or four moves ahead of her. Like a human being, she reads his vanity and arrogance, and dumps him. When he realizes what just happened, his attempt at apology sounds little better than “control-alt-delete.” Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/arts/movies

Its an age of media convergence. Forget viral; its all about spreadability. And Facebook spreads it thick and thin. Anyway you want it. Its a business model, an advertising bonanza and Time Magazine likes it. End of story. Julian Assange has no revenue stream, actual or potential,and perhaps technically is not a person. He is a leak. Zuckerman is part of the elite now. Assange is still an outsider. Burberry has three million fans on Facebook. It costs much less than placing ads in Vanity Fair. The advertising media model is being revolutionized in large part by Facebook, although culturally Facebook is not a contributor or producer, just a facilitator.

Up until this week, Assange seemed like a shoe-in for the award. He received by far the most votes in TIME’s user poll, coming in just over 382,026 (compared to Zuckerberg’s mere 18,353 votes). TIME, for its part, has been clear that the Person of the Year is less an award and more recognition of a person or persons who have “done the most to influence events of the year.” The magazine readily admits that their editors reserve the right to disagree with the user vote, but with the US and other governments hot on Julian Assange’s tail, many are speculating that the decision was a political one. Though direct government pressure seems unlikely (but not impossible), the idea that TIME chose cuddly Zuckerberg over international man of mystery Assange in order to appease an increasingly belligerent US government is entirely feasible.( Jillian York )

----4channers log on anonymously and don't register any personal information. For moot, this remains the essential way to preserve freedom and privacy on an increasingly regulated Internet. "As the social craze grows, sites want more and more from you," he says. "It used to be just user name and password. Now it's user name, password, where do you live, how old are you? On Facebook they really want to know everything about you. 4chan is the antithesis of that. We don't ask for anything. You don't have to provide anything. You type in a comment, hit submit, and there you go. Anybody can use the site and that's becoming increasingly rare these days. Getting rid of 'Anonymous' would be like a stake to the heart of the site. That would kill it." ---David Kushner

Assange is an ambiguous figure.It is difficult at this stage to figure how he is positioned in the matrix. The fact that Michael Moore has supplied some bail money portends that his saga may turn into some B rate romantic comedy finishing at the altar married to some diluted form of pseudo-activism that could use a good mercenary hacker as well as a valuable cameo in the next installment as Michael drags his heft through the spreadable media age.

Another subtext of the Time award is how to frame a deeper and more problematical issue and using the Zuckerman icon as a front for it; and that is the issue of  the year is what is the definition and value of intellectual property? That and the lack of privacy and this peddling of personal information to get us to buy something and further consumerist culture.

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"So there’s a Facebook screenshot floating around in the Blogosphere depicting a woman with a very embarrassing status, as Mashable naively reports. Truth is, a Christian dating website was compromised by 4chan hackers and they used the information to take over the victims’ Facebook pages."

“Transmedia promotion presumes a more active spectator who can and will follow these media flows. Such marketing strategies promote a sense of affiliation with and immersion in fictional worlds. The media industry exploits these intense feelings through the marketing of ancillary goods from t-shirts to games with promises of enabling a deeper level of involvement with the program content. However, attempts to regulate intellectual property undercut the economic logic of media convergence, sending fans contradictory messages about how they are supposed to respond to commercial culture.” ( Henry Jenkins )

“In the opening scene of The Social Network, one of this season’s most admired films, the conversation between these two lovers becomes a nervous dance around status anxiety. He wants her to help him join the Porcellian, the ultimate Harvard men’s club, founded in 1791. She asks why he cares about clubs. “Because they’re exclusive and fun and lead to a better life.”

This eager young man, Mark Zuckerberg, will develop Facebook and become the youngest billionaire in history. But his raw ambition repels his girlfriend, Erica Albright, and fractures their relationship. The Social Network feels timely not just because it turns Zuckerberg’s world-conquering invention into drama but because Aaron Sorkin’s script nimbly explores a major obsession of this moment in history, the intense class-consciousness that produces both elitism and elitism’s enemies.

---Personally, I think this speaks a lot about Burberry. In a world of big brands grabbing at money, it’s nice to see someone sharing and engaging with their community rather than just “counting fans” (and doing it in a creative way!). What does Facebook think of Burberry reaching this milestone? Facebook’s VP offered this: “Burberry is producing its own original content, in fact Burberry is no longer just a fashion company – today they are a thriving media enterprise. Burberry is now the most widely followed fashion brand on Facebook. It’s successful not just because it makes great clothes but because it understands the importance of sparking interest in the community and using social media to engage and delight their consumers. Whether it is relating to consumers by promoting indie bands on their Facebook Page or celebrating the ideas of the most stylish customers on their site, The Art of the Trench – Burberry is building its brand not simply by broadcasting and advertising to them, but by creating new media experiences for them.” ---

Mark’s status may be well above Erica’s but he’s uneasily aware that he stands some considerable distance below a pair of handsome, athletic, affluent brothers from the Establishment, the Winklevoss twins, whose struggle with Mark over the rights to Facebook will fuel much of the movie’s plot. The story deals with layers of elitism, stacked one on top of another.” ( Robert Fulford )

“Similarly, I don’t think we can ever eliminate the scourge of propaganda. Freud had been hopeful that widespread understanding of his theory would lead to a more enlightened population. Near the end of his life, he became cynical on that point. What we have seen instead is a sort of psychological arms race. As the population becomes more enlightened and sophisticated, the propagandists become more sophisticated in their methods.

At present, the propagandists have the upper hand. They can devote much time and money to the battles. The victims, meanwhile, are busy with their lives. Many do not prepare for battle, because they do not realize that there even is a battle.

New media can be helpful. However, they are helpful only to the extent that they are not controlled by a centralized authority.

That, by the way, is why Net Neutrality and media consolidation are such important issues.

Curtis’ documentary discusses the way in which the ideas of democracy and free enterprise have been conflated, as a result of a deliberate propaganda effort. It is important to realize that the two concepts are separate. Having more of one does not guarantee that we will have more of the other.

Just as we cannot be rid of the unconscious mind and its baser instincts, we cannot be rid of elitism. Some, but not all, elitists believe that they have the right to control others. Letting them have control of the media would be a big mistake.”

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Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/11/robert-fulford-the-perils-of-elitism/#ixzz18bzPGjrn

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