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Borkowski Media Trends: Crisis of Truth | 'NepoPop'
PLUS: AI vs Musicians | Labour's By-Election Double
A CRISIS OF TRUTH IN AN AGE OF TRAGEDY
In a world beset with tragic events, it has become clear in recent weeks that contemporary mass media infrastructure is feeding a crisis of truth, which in turn is making reasoned, nuanced conversation - that might heal (or at least not exacerbate) tribal or ideological rifts- impossible.
First there’s the traditional news media: threatened by sparkly, attention-plundering rivals, its long-standing obsession with being ‘first’ to a story, or adding a dimension overlooked by rival outlets, has drastically intensified.
When you apply this approach to the bone-juddering speed of the 24-hour news cycle and overlay factors such as legal, political and communications pressure or spin from vested interests, toeing an editorial line, or applying whatever journalistic standards of objectivity remain, we find ourselves in a situation where truth is often smothered.
This situation isn’t helped by eye-popping levels of disinformation, conspiracy and trolling clickbait on social media, notably X (né Twitter). News gathering on social media is now sifting a needle of truth from a haystack of lies, propaganda, sh*tposts and other sinister ballyhoo.
This arid and blighted media landscape has for years spawned a malnourished public discourse – even on the most important and sensitive of topics. Now this crisis of truth has deteriorated into a poisonous famine of reason, nuance and empathy. In an age where humanity needs mutual understanding more than ever, the mega-machinery of mass communications is driving us further apart.
Adonis Graham, North West & The Rise of ‘NepoPop’
The “Nepo Baby” term has become inescapable thanks to viral social media trends uncovering the extent of nepotism in show business.
Gwyneth Paltrow, an established industry figure and a beneficiary of parental fame, recently expressed disdain for the term, labelling it an “ugly moniker.” Her defence seeks to detach these kids from the negative connotations associated with their inherited opportunities.
Paltrow’s comments echo Lily-Rose Depp’s view that family connections merely offer a “foot in the door.” Success, according to Depp, still relies on talent.
Many will challenge this when looking at the recent spate of children of the world’s most successful recording artists launching earnestly serious music careers at ludicrously young ages: NepoPop.
This phenomenon reached brief but viral public attention a couple of years back via North West, who moved her mother Kim Kardashian to tears with a striking ‘musical performance’ that consisted of bellowing “what are those? These are clothes” at a collection of bemused catwalk models at her dad’s Yeezy fashion show.
Into this arena enters Drake’s six-year-old son, Adonis, who rapped on Drake’s latest single, “My Man Freestyle”. Though endearing, the six-year-old’s lyrical debut demonstrates opportunities the nepo baby tag unlocks - that foot in the door suddenly feels incredibly powerful.
For these nepo babies, their struggle isn’t climbing the fame ladder but managing the pre-gifted fame to carve an identity. It's somewhere between a gift and a curse - delivering platforms many would sacrifice everything for yet casting a shadow left by their famous parents.
It's an interesting paradox and quandary alien to most. This publically scripted journey isn't about emerging from obscurity but navigating a path shaped outside the nepo baby's control.
Will generative AI be sued into submission?
In the latest chapter of the artists vs generative AI saga, Universal Music, Concord, and ABKCO are suing Amazon-backed AI firm, Anthropic, for allegedly using song lyrics owned by them without permission.
They allege that Anthropic engaged in, “unlawful taking and using [of] massive amounts of copyrighted content without permission” to train its large language model (LLM) chatbot, Claude.
This suit adds to the ever-growing number of creatives revolting against the use of their work in training AI systems. From Sarah Silverman, who sued OpenAI and Meta for unauthorised use of her memoir, to Margaret Attwood, who signed an open letter calling for AI companies to cease using her work without consent, 2023 has brought one AI copyright conflict after another.
The biggest is arguably the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which, in part, is a result of actor and writer’s fears that they will become replaceable as generative AI becomes increasingly sophisticated.
The results of these proceedings will have a significant impact on the future of generative AI. If it’s concluded that AI firms need to pay for the content its models are trained on, then it’s difficult to see how it will continue its current trajectory. Generative AI systems rely wholly on material to train them. For humans to independently create the volume and variation of content required to train these systems to generate high quality content, would be impossible. So, it would be a question of finding the money to pay for content used or giving up.
LABOUR’S BY-ELECTION DOUBLE: THE COMMS PERSPECTIVE
Labour’s double by-election win in two previous Conservative strongholds has quietly increased the party’s confidence ahead of next year’s likely general election, but has not dented the prevailing caution and pragmatism underlining the party’s strategy.
For the Conservatives, the results underline the need for its leadership to enforce unity on an increasingly fractious organisation, and implement a coherent strategy.
Labour’s success in the by-elections owes more to voter disillusionment with the incumbents than the popularity of its people or brilliance of its policies, but the party is exploiting this advantage cleverly and as a coherent unit.
Britain is, at its core, a right-of-centre country, and the Conservative Party probably has more in common with the average voter – certainly in England, London excepted- than Labour. The result of this is an advantage on many wedge issues (think of immigration as an example).
But the instability and controversy of the past four years has put the current government at a disadvantage, and Labour, by being pragmatic and reactive in its policy positions, is playing an effective game of rope-a-dope, making it difficult for the Conservatives to land enough significant hits to even out the battle for the polls.
Look at Labour’s response to the unfolding Middle East Crisis, or its flagship housebuilding policy, as recent examples; neither were exactly inspirational, but both were rolled out without impacting their polling figures.
This pursuit of wedge issues that can win them favour with the average voter might partially explain the Conservative focus on what some would characterise as ‘Culture War’ issues at the party conference, but another reason for this is said to be pressure from ideologically zealous back-bench MPs.
The disadvantage of this is that it detracts from a policy programme geared towards macroeconomic benefit; a traditional Tory strength and a traditional weakness of Labour.
The challenge for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives is demonstrating enough authority and self-confidence to hit wedge issues that could genuinely damage Labour in the polls, even if these aren’t the issues prized by the back benches. Otherwise, Labour’s ‘slippery customer’ approach might be enough to coast into Number 10.