Fox News: “Don’t Worry, Be Anxious”

Curator's Note

In keeping with the spirit of Flow, this video juxtaposes the soundtracks of several advertisements aired on the Fox News Channel with clips of Fox News alerts and crawl captions. The soundtrack, including the musical clip, is taken entirely from the commercials, the video from the news content and promos. The result is an attempt to capture a recurring theme in right wing commercial media from Talk Radio to Human Events to Fox News: a portrait of a world of proliferating risks for which viewers become responsible as consumers. I first noticed this pattern listening to right wing talk radio: get people fired up about privatizing Social Security, then attempt to prey on the financial anxiety associated with dismantling the social safety net by advertising get-rich-quick schemes. The anxiety and anger factor stoked by Fox News coverage tends to portray the multiplication of risks, random attacks, and catastrophes as irreducibly incomprehensible: events that can be reacted to, perhaps categorized actuarily, but which nevertheless remain inaccessible to narratives of social structure or collective action. Like the terrorist threat more generally, the threat can therefore only be reacted to, prepared for indefinitely.

One thing that pops out when you listen to right wing radio or watch the Fox News Channel is how many ads are directly related to the types of anxieties exacerbated by neoliberal policies ("Dismantle public education stories" run next to ads for do-it-yourself educational products; "Escalate the war on terror" stories run next to a broad array of personal protection and security devices, and so on). I pulled this together quickly from about four hours of Fox News aired over four could have gone on much longer (and does every morning). Despite our self-conscious deployment of the term "flow," there is a recurring tendency to consider programs in isolation from the commercial contexts in which they are so often embedded. The goal of this admittedly crude effort is to highlight the connections between the news content and the commercial context.


Excellent job, Mark! This is a perfect bit of pedagogy, and really plays to what In Media Res can do - not just using the system to comment on pre-existing media, but using the media to comment on yourself. I'll certainly use it in my courses as an addition to excerpts from films like Outfoxed, The Ad & the Ego, and Bowling for Columbine - thanks for sharing!

[...] Update: Here’s another video hosted on the MediaCommons website (we’ll be talking about MediaCommons in the near future) that might be useful as an example of using mashups to engage in media critique.  Don’t worry, be anxious, indeed! [...]

Just posted this to a course blog for a class I'm teaching on "Using Technology in the Language Arts Classroom." I'm teaching Henry Jenkins' "Photoshop for Democracy," and I think this video will fit into that discussion nicely. I think you're right to point out the ways in which Fox News commercials seem to magically answer the very fears invoked in the news broadcasts.

Wonderful piece, Mark! I agree with Jason and Chuck that this exemplifies precisely the types of scholarly practices and pedagogical opportunities In Media Res can promote and offer. In watching/listening to this piece, I was struck by the notion of "residue" for thinking about how media flow works, which in the case of the advertisements accompanying Fox News promises to be washed away through consumer purchases. Really provocative!

Of course, you could apply this lesson to all kinds of commercial media, i.e. what do the advertisements tell us about who the broadcaster and advertisers think their audience is and what their daily fears consist of. Thanks for the solid lesson in "anxiety framing" and nice work.

[...] I came across this via the blog “the chutry experiment;” a bit more explanation about it all is available at the blog In Media Res. [...]

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