Friday, June 22, 2007

Memo to BBC World: Thanks for nothing

Earlier this month, BBC World launched a billboard campaign heralding their arrival in America.

Some have called the interactive billboards innovative. The billboards feature a text message response number that allows viewers to vote between two interpretations of a news item. Here are the samples (click to embiggen).
So the audience can "vote" via text message on the characterizations that are presented. This kind of audience participation is what some consider "innovative" (though so-called reality TV shows like American Idol have been doing this for at least five years).

The problem I have with the campaign is that, as if we weren't doing a fine job of it ourselves the BBC is now contributing to the dumbing down and polarization of the American public.

These ads encourage people to think in absolutes. Illegal aliens, for example, are either "criminals" or "citizens." There's no middle ground.

I'm pretty sure this falls into the realm of the logical fallacy of the complex question. They presuppose a set of circumstances that haven't necessarily been proven or accepted.

The problem of course is that very few questions are as black and white. Framing questions the way BBC World has in the above campaign strips the nuance out of the national discussion.

If we're not careful, we'll end up with half the country thinking one way and half the country thinking the opposite way. I know none of us want that. Right?

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  1. I think it's too late for that - one side of the country thinking one way and the other side thinking another way.

    I have to agree - it isn't black and white.

    What happen to promoting thinking? Oh, wait - did that ever exist?

  2. The days of the Lincoln/Douglas debates are long gone. Now, it's a number 1 with diet coke, thirty second sound bite fix for any issue. As Eschele says, there ain't no thinking anymore.



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