There is a screenwriting trope where the villain gives a speech of everything the author doesn’t want you to believe.
Speeches that summarize the moral of the story are usually too preachy and too clearly the author speaking through one of his characters, but a villain speech forces the audience to think “no, that’s wrong!” planting the author’s message in their brain, Inception-style.
Sometimes, writers write these villain-speeches a little too well, and accidentally make the audience agree with them. It’s called the “straw-man has a point” trope. This usually happens when the villain is too likable. “Sure he’s mean,” the audience thinks. “But damn he’s cool to watch.”
The most famous example of both tropes is probably the “greed is good” speech from Wall Street. Oliver Stone clearly does not want you to think “greed is good” yet many financial professionals have that speech memorized and can quote it by heart.
So if an unlikable character in a story says something, you can safely assume you’re supposed to believe the opposite.
Now… how likable is the media?
Why Media Accusations Have Failed
Throughout the 2016 election the media has tried to tie candidates they don’t like to bad people. They attacked Bernie Sanders for his supposedly misogynistic “Bernie-Bro” fans, but their primary target has been Donald Trump. The media has tried to tie Donald Trump to various “hate groups,” culminating in Hillary Clinton’s recent alt-right speech.
I put “hate-groups” in quotes, because some of the people the media calls hate-groups genuinely do have bad ideas, but others are only people the media wants you to think have bad ideas, and the rest are just trolls out for lulz. I’ll let you decide which are which, since this process works the same either way.
Why have accusations that would have destroyed a candidate in earlier elections failed to stop the Trump campaign?
Simply-put: people don’t like the messenger.
The Media Is Unlikable
Last time I checked, less then 6% view the media as trustworthy.That’s less trustworthy then Congress. They certainly aren’t likable. The media has had several recent high profile failures – the Rolling Stone false rape case, the Gawker lawsuit, and the reveal that they actively collude with the DNC through email.
I’ve said before that characters can be likable and mean, but in order to do so they have to have other positive qualities – courage, mastery, loved by friends and family. The media arguably has zero likable qualities. They aren’t even good at doing bad things. If I put them as a character in a movie, you wouldn’t watch it.
The media is so hated now, a comedian like Sam Hyde can post a video of himself verbally destroying a Buzzfeed reporter, and it actually boosts his brand. We like seeing more likable characters triumph over less likable ones.
Knowing all that… Who do you think is more likable – the media, or the people they attack?
Media Attacks Help Their Targets
The media has become so unlikable, that every time they attack someone it boosts their brand.
If the media mentions a name, a certain number of viewers will search that person, discover their material, and think “this makes sense” or “this isn’t nearly as bad as the media made it out to be.” Every time the media attacks a “hate-group,” it increases their following.
Think about some of the “bad people” you’ve heard about this election. Did you know who they were before the media mentioned them? Would you have heard about them otherwise?
Getting attacked by the media is the best thing that can happen to most public figures.
If the media wants their memes to stick, they have to become more likable. I’ve written before about how to do that. It wouldn’t be hard. But frankly, I think most of the media is bad people, and the media has told me that you don’t want to be associated with bad people, so they won’t get any advice from me.
P.S. I’m weirdly looking forward to the attacks that may come once my first feature-length documentary American Circumcision is done. You’re gonna see some of the best storytelling you’ve ever seen in your life when that film launches.
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