Sunday, November 15, 2020

Do you believe in magic?

Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window.


You know what this is? It's the horse race metaphor, and the lack of practice in sober thinking. Of course people know perfectly well that all of the ballots have already been cast, and nothing that happens after the polls close is going to change them, but that's not what they see, as they're watching the returns on TV: they're experiencing a moment in which the situation is constantly changing, and one candidate is "pulling ahead" while the other one is "falling behind".

It's like the GIF above, where you read the turn of James Stewart's head as a response to a noise and the cut to the window scene as showing the source of the noise toward which he turned, the cause of his head turn—it's easy to understand that the two segments weren't really filmed at the same time, and what he's really turning toward is Hitchcock's instructions; but you have to think about it, and that isn't what a life of film watching accustoms you to doing—the normal thing is to ignore the editing and absorb the intended narrative.

A very stable genius like Donald Trump, who's always lived on the cusp between reality and media, who never quite thought he had even had an experience until he read about it on Page Six and literally became something like a billionaire by appearing on television pretending to be a billionaire, whose sense of self-worth is. by now completely tied to the concept of ratings, can't even be made to understand it's impossible for Fox calling Arizona to change the overall election results. But perfectly ordinary people, used to TV, may not try to understand it, absorbed as they are in the narrative of Trump getting stabbed in the back by the news network for which he has done so much, and won't listen if you try to explain it, not because they're too dumb but because they're too emotionally invested in the story.

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