Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Even Celebrities Get Boxed by the Media

In a recent interview with David Letterman, actress/entrepreneur/singer/nude star Paris Hilton was cornered into talking about her prison experience. As this video will attest she obviously was uncomfortable with talking about it.

Remember the power relations between the media and outside sources? This is a perfect and direct example of a low-power source (at the moment) against a high-power media. David Letterman clearly knew what he wanted to talk about with regards to Paris Hilton and he pressed the issue to the point that the young actress couldn't take it anymore and asked that the subject be switched. Of course at that moment, Letterman could have chosen to continue on (the audience was clearly receptive to his comments and didn't seem unwilling to see Paris Hilton breakdown or whatnot) however he didn't.

In tackling this issue, the key concept of framing comes up. Earlier framing was defined as selective control over media content and information. This episode of the Tonight Show provides us a unique insight into how media can directly affect the issues to be discussed and how the audience should take it in. In this case, the audience was primed to respond jovially to Letterman's comments on Paris and surprisingly they still took the situation lightly despite the actress' discomfort. Despite this however, Letterman knew that even the audience has a limit with regards to manipulation which is probably one of the reasons he stopped before the situation could backfire on him.

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