Friday, June 17, 2011

The Lesson of the Fake Syrian Lesbian Blogger

Brendan O'Neill thinks it speaks volumes about the media:
The revelation that the Gay Girl in Damascus is actually a stubbly bloke in Edinburgh has sent shockwaves through the media. ‘How could he have done this?’, journalists are demanding of Tom MacMaster, the American self-confessed nerd based in Scotland who for six months pretended to be a dissident dyke in Syria. ‘Doesn’t he know the damage he has done to gay people in the Middle East and to the reputation of political blogging?’
These are the wrong questions. Because the most striking thing about this blogging hoax is not its potential impact over there, but what it reveals about culture, politics and journalism over here. The thing that ought to cause jaws to drop and eyebrows to rise is not Mr MacMaster’s deceitfulness - he isn’t the first mundane man to masquerade as something sexier on the world wide web - but rather the ease with which he planted himself in the cultural consciousness. It is the manipulability of the modern media, their wide-eyed openness to unchecked foreign stories that seem to confirm their prejudices, which should really be in the spotlight.
Should be, but won't be, because that would presuppose an ability to hold up a mirror to oneself and acknowledge the vapidness and gullibility staring back.

1 comment:

Mentat said...

Hi Scaramouche. Mentat here. I have made a summary of what I consider to be a very important book: Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order. The book is 483 pages and my summary is 18 pages. What would you rather read? Anyway, the book seeks to explain the origins of the modern state (meritocratic bureaucracy), rule of law and accountable government. I think his theoretical perspective is really useful; you can easily apply his schema to polities in flux such as Libya or Syria. As well, he is the first scholar I have ever read who has provided me with a credible explanation for the disappearance of tribes in Europe. Haven't you always wondered why there are still tribes and tribal politics in places like Iraq and Libya but they disappeared in Europe? Anyway, drop me a line at, give me an anonymous email drop and I will send you my summary. Cheers!