THE WEEKEND ESSAY: how the camera became a pathological liar


How did we reach the stage of believing complete tosh? [translation of ‘tosh’ for foreign viewers – bullshit, des conneries, Scheisse, cazzate, las tonterias]

It seemed to many thinkers in the first half of the Twentieth Century that tosh was on the verge of being abolished. Religion was on the wane, Einsteinian science was in the ascendancy, and rationalist State-planned Communism would conquer all opposition, bringing plenty to all. But around the time that Karl Marx was describing religion as “the opiate of the People”, the camera was invented.

Unlike paintings, it used to be said, “the camera does not lie”: Valezquez could use his genius with oils to bring out the hidden madness of the Spanish monarch, but the camera was an empirical record.

Its modern day equivalent, however, married technology along the way – and turned into the most mendacious persuasion tool of all time.

The very use of moving pictures was an illusion. The talkies brought sound that made the ‘moving’ objects even more believable…but it was just technological fakery: it wasn’t Now, and it isn’t real.

Then came the TV camera, and Technicolor. Then 60mm and Todd-Ao, live outside broadcasts, Sensurround sound, digital reception. Finally, the digital manipulation of visual contents and sound via Harry in 1985 completed the presentation of counterfeit as, apparently, one hundred percent genuine. At last, even advertising commercials and PR “spin” had all the tools at their command.

Such “miracles” allowed actor Oliver Reed to die on the set of the movie Gladiator in 1999, but still complete the picture: a final triumph, if you will, of the illusion of life over the reality of death.

Socialist image makers like the detestable Alastair Campbell and murderous Islamic Jihadists were the quickest to catch on to persuasion through undetectable falsehood. Today everyone’s at it, so nobody knows who to believe: reality has left the theatre. What’s more, nobody cares…..reality is at home alone – friendless and isolating itself from a relatively benign virus.

The generation of Homo sapiens under 45 has never known it any other way. State education hasn’t taught them to question, or indeed suggested it might be a good thing so to do. And all around them, the line between fiction and documentary has become a dangerously untidy blur.

The rise of the novel after the mid eighteenth century could ‘take the reader out of herself’ for a brief time; but once the book was put aside, reality was immediately invasive. Even when the early Russian Soviets airbrushed out the politically wayward in their midst, any half-competent studio developer could examine it and see the falsehood. When somebody (probably the CIA) crudely doctored the Zapruder film of Kennedy being blown away from the front, later digital experts were able to cry ‘foul’. Very few citizens cared, by the way….which is another dimension of the problem.

Were Donald Trump’s incorrectitudes to deliver him unto another assassination tomorrow, Harry applied to the video could credibly reverse or distort any interpretation of what happened. What happened is reality; but in 2020, reality is a negotiable commodity.

Moving visuals and special effects are, for many people alive today born after 1980, absolutely real: they don’t do virtual reality, because their brains are no longer that trained or subtle as to be able to tell the difference. But fascinatingly, very little of the presentation of propaganda as fact in 2020 relies on purely visual fakery. This latter can be easily achieved as a last resort in the unlikely case of doubt springing eternal. But it very rarely does.

The trick that has been played on a mentally disabled generation (I use the term advisedly) is to graft film, graphics and trusted (“expert”) voices over onto a narrative from the news anchor. Its hifi output and pretence of objective reportage adopt the same slick style as the last adventure movie they saw, but there are no titles preparing the audience for fiction…merely Sky News or News at Ten or BBCNews.

If it’s on the news and this is a democracy, then it’s true. Everything else is just conspiracy theory.

This is quite a leap from George Orwell’s “Real news is the publication of something the powerful would rather remained unknown. All the rest is just PR”.

The treatment of the biggest news stories of the last forty years provides ample evidence that creating belief in propaganda has become increasing invisible, while those on the receiving end of it have less and less willingness to accept any vaersio of reality as questionable. The Big Bad Wolf has finally been given an open door at which to push.

Perhaps unwittingly, there was a tremendous insight on a US satire show during Bill Clinton’s increasingly ridiculous assertions of his innocence in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A good Presidential impersonator simply came onto camera and said, “Ma nayeem is Beeyull Clint’n, an’ ah am not here“. It was the start in earnest of the Era of Tosh.

Soon after Tony Blair became Labour leader in the UK, I suspect it was obvious to most neutral or Tory voters of my generation that he was an unmitigated phoney. He swept to power in 1997 on the back of saying almost nothing – and stayed in power by doing nothing ‘sociaist’ at all. As he’d been a Liberal Party member at Oxford, this should not have surprised anyone…but it certainly caught Labour’s devotees by surprise.

There never was any beef in Uncle Tombama’s Whopper. UK Chancellor Gordon Brown told Parliament in 2009 that he had saved the world by abolishing ‘boom and bust’. In 2010, British LibDem leader Nick Clegg got his name on the Cameron ticket by simply not being Gordon Brown.

In 2013, Cameron asked the House of Commons to believe that during a secret Boxing Day lunch with senior Newscorpers, he had mentioned neither the phone-hacking scandal nor the SKY/BSB Murdoch takeover; somehow, it just never came up. Despite the evidence of 137 deliberately hidden (“redacted”) emails damning his conduct on that takeover, Jeremy Hunt told MPs “I have done nothing wrong”.

Following his election as Labour leader in 2015, Hard Left pro-IRA sympathiser Jeremy Corbyn used the extensive resources of the Trotskyist organisation Momentum to position all his election meetings as Sermons on the Mount surrounded by thousands of devoted disciples. The shots were digitally cropped to hide the reality of hundreds of naive youngsters, and not a lot else.

The eventual narrow winner of the contest Theresa May then tried to sell the Country an EU departure deal that utterly contradicted the spirit of the 2016 Brexit Referendum. Following the result of that election, Chancellor George Osborne insisted on the BBC that contingency plans were already in hand to carry out the Will of the People. When various Sir Humphreys leaked the Truth – there were no plans at all – Osborne simply toughed it out.

In 2017, Emmanuel Macron was elected President of France by a near-landslide margin. He claimed the financing of his campaign was achieved entirely via citizen donations; Le Monde quickly disproved this and showed the millions of euros given to his campaign by the banking fraternity – but hardly anyone paid attention to this fact. In opinion polls of the time, the belief in him as a stabilising “Centrist” was overwhelmingly accepted by younger voters. In turn, examination of the demographics who either abstained in the final round or voted Le Pen shows a massive bias towards those born before 1965 with doubts about the spin emitted from the senior EU ranks in Brussels.

Since 2016, three ‘news’ stories have dominated the Western media: Trump’s election as US President, the rocky road to Brexit, and the rise and rise of COVID19. All three demonstrate with crystal clarity that the Age of Tosh has reached full maturity.

During the last Presidential election, the US Establishment’s liberal press came up with every bigged-up, hypocritically censorious and downright untrue “revelation” about Trump the Stupid Child, Trump the Womaniser, Trump the Idiot, Trump the prisoner of banks who owned him and Trump the Mexican Wall racist.

As it happens, during that time (via a personal relationship) I met a steady stream of under 40 year-old US voters. All of them believed Trump to be the Devil Incarnate. Not one of them voted for him, and not one of them queried the gargoylesque image being awarded to the candidate by the media.

Trump was elected not by the rich, but by those who came to maturity before pc myths became somehow irrefutable. 

His voting figures among high earners were almost identical to Hillary Clinton’s. He won the election because, from Baby Boomers to those born in the mid 1960s, he was perceived to be – while a long way from perfect – a real person.

Real, reality, realism, realistic. It is the most recurring (and ignored) debate of our time.

Since his election, those same delusional American liberals have created an Alternative Universe in which Trump is the creature of Putin (he isn’t), Trump is usurping democracy and should be impeached (he isn’t and he wasn’t) and now of course Trump is being dumb about COVID19 (but a growing number of virologists support him).

The reality mismatch by age is clearly apparent.

The Brexit saga some thought was at an end after June 2016 proved to be only the beginning: the losers gave graceful speeches accepting defeat – and then did everything to stage a Second Referendum while inventing potty tosh (like posh totty, only infinitely more stupid) about the dangers of leaving an already mortally sick EU.

But there was still enough commonsense, anti-Labour/LibDem/Remain ticket feeling in the older age brackets to defeat the disemblers in the 2019 General Election. This was despite massive majorities voting Labour or Liddem among under 40s (by a factor of 2 among under 30s and 3 times within the under 25s). Boris won the day because the over 50s (whatever they thought of him personally) had enough discernment to see through and beyond pro-EU propaganda and Corbyn Labour’s outrageous attempts at election bribery:


The third and last mega-story of the 21st century has of course been COVID19, and its varietal misuse by wrongdoers in search of a Patsy for the excrementally dystopian world they’re busy creating.

The best way I can open fire on this sitting duck of a target is to write, quite simply, if the Western élites and media in search of a cudgel with which to beat the Beijing régime had never reported the virus, none of you would be under the ludicrous wartime grip on liberties we are suffering today. 

None of the winter illnesses – C19 included – that beset and cull the oldies like me every year – are showing the slightest sign of any epidemic reflected in government statistics. The odd doctor might remark, “This year’s flu is a fairly unpleasant strain” but that would be it. We expect old people to expire: 80% of all deaths from COVID19 are among people over 75…..nothing to see here, move along.

We should not be in any way surprised by that assertion, because (as I prefer it to be in my posts), the data support my argument, not that of the élites and their media lackeys: even in the worst possible closed environment of the cruise ship Diamond Princess – and remembering that cruises generally are massively skewed towards older demographics – out of 3,711 passengers on board – 7 died. That’s a death rate of under 0.2%.

In relation to this, perhaps the most hyped con in human recorded history, we would all do well to go back to an event from way before most of those ‘in control’ were born: that is, the fate of the people evacuated from Tristan da Cunha in October 1961. The eruption of a volcano there – Queen Mary’s Peak – forced the evacuation of the entire population of 264 individuals; they were picked up by a Dutch passenger ship that took them via Cape Town to Britain.

So isolated were Tristan’s inhabitants, they had no no Herd Immunity to western disease. By 1963, all the islanders had returned home, preferring to take their chances with volcanoes rther than the measles and flu epidemics to which they no resistance.

Dealing with a new virus that only rarely kills is all about building Herd Immunity and – at some point not too far down the line – developing a serum against it.

With the notable exception of Sweden (and to some extent, the US under Trump) no major Western nation is obeying that rule. Those who condemn me for thinking of the common good rather than the minority advantage to be gained from COVID19 regularly accuse me via email and comment thread of “hiding away in isolation while everyone else takes the hit”.

This is not just pernicious, ignorant claptrap (I’m slap bang in the vunerable group, so I’m doing the right thing) it is merely the latest example of how President Abraham Lincoln has finally been proven wrong by the capricious camera: you can indeed fool almost all of the People most of the time….if that devilish media camera has destroyed the species ability to tell excrement from manna beforehand.