The Nature Of Audiences

A few months back I drove home to see thick black smoke billowing out of my neighbour’s car parked on the street. I quickly jumped out of my car to investigate the burning vehicle. By this stage a small crowd had appeared that was slowly creeping forward to get a better look. After a minute the car actually exploded. No one was hurt but what interested me was the curiosity of the viewers, myself included.

Instead of running away from the fire, people were running towards it. And thus is the nature of audiences.

In a recent conversation between myself and Oscar Nicholson, I realised this is the nature of how I blog.

I cause controversy. I write about not only provocative issues but in a provocative manner too. I stir the pot and I start fires.

But I do this to start conversations. Unfortunately people aren’t attracted to a car that isn’t on fire. A blog post that isn’t controversial gets less readers and far less comments. People rarely comment on something if they simply agree. I do realise the shortfall of this; that once the fire’s out, the people leave. I suppose I hope I’ve got enough good content to keep them around after everything’s been extinguished.

But I’m not going to kid myself, I can’t consistently and regularly produce good, thought provoking content. So from time to time I’ll start a fire. I make no apologies for the burns or damage caused. This is the nature of a Joker.

  • lauren
    Posted at May 20, 2009 9:44pm, 20 May Reply

    and thus is the nature of SMALL MINDED audiences.

    shame on you for only creating work that panders to the habits of your audience. shame on you for not believing that people have the capability to be changed by something other than shock and burn (pun intended). shame on your for believing that comments are conversations and that conversations are the only currency among people.

    c’mon zac, i know you’ve got more depth than that.

  • Haze
    Posted at May 20, 2009 9:58pm, 20 May Reply

    Zac, I’m sorry, you’re a walking contradiction.

    You’re so critical of old media yet you dumb down the quality of your content in order to boost ‘ratings’.

    Do you just want A Current Affair to be shifted onto the online space? Is that what you’re blogging for?

  • Age
    Posted at May 20, 2009 10:17pm, 20 May Reply

    I have to agree with everyone here…

    Like Haze alluded to, you’ve just painted yourself as the Current Affair of blogland with this post; admitting to writing stories not because they are worth writing about, but to desperatly illicit some sort of (any) reaction instead. You’ve shown it’s not about social media or adland or culture or anything, it’s all about you.

    Do you think that devalues your purpose for being? Having read what you’ve written and the patronising tone it has, it makes me question why readers would come here in the first place. You’ve basically told us all that you only value our opinion as a way of getting your own rocks off. And on that, how can we trust what YOUR true opinion is? Are you just saying shit to ‘stir the pot’? Why should we believe anything anymore?

    As a blogger, isn’t your opinion your most valuable asset?

    This is a disappointing post, cmon dude.

  • nat
    Posted at May 20, 2009 10:46pm, 20 May Reply

    My only points on this zac are:
    * It’s fine to provoke. But as you have said, you use this space as a representation of you (your Resume). You then need to provoke in an intelligent way.
    * The line from “Usual Suspects” – “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. I “suspect” this is true for people starting fires.
    *Authenticity and Genuineness.

    @Age – think you are being a bit unfair. Zac is actually valuing the opinion and conversation of his readers more than his own opinion by sacrificing his true “soap box” opinion to provoke a discussion. He is not trying to get more readers but get more discussion – which is quite different to what A Current Affair journalism seeks to achieve.

  • Age
    Posted at May 20, 2009 10:56pm, 20 May Reply

    To be fair Zac has a lot worth listening to. But in saying that, no one likes an arsonist.

  • Oscar
    Posted at May 20, 2009 11:24pm, 20 May Reply

    The reaction to this post unsurprisingly mirrors the aforementioned “conversation” I had with Zac in his guest post for Julian Cole. The above comments are all great and make valid points, but they’re also somewhat self-defeating given that they chastise Zac for the very quality that helped prompt you all to comment. I don’t think Zac or his point lacks depth for wanting to spark a little controversy and he’s far from ACA. More 60 Minutes.

    Zac’s post didn’t just hit a raw nerve with me, he was a Parkinon’s afflicted dentist twisting that nerve with forceps of ignorance, wearing a jokers hat. He really got me yelling. Of course he didn’t post in ignorance, but I was so single-minded in loosening those forceps I couldn’t see the joker’s hat.

    I read Zac’s blog and respect his astute opinions, particularly the recent delineation of the Aus blogsphere. Yet this was an eye-opener, his post provoked me to bluster with geriatric fury at a young whipper-snapper. Twice. And I’m a long way off geriatric. More revelatory though, is how it made me view my own blog.

    My freshman blog just got to the prom 6 weeks ago. Its getting a decent number of dances, but despite commenting like the ugly chick putting out to get nookie, its got only two comments. My blog is a slut, it wants waaaay more action than that. And my blog is not the ugly chick, so something else is turning everyone off getting into its pants and commenting. Its too damn agreeable.

    People feel compelled to participate in the divisive, the better to socially establish their values. My written opinion needs to be more unequivocal and less philosophical, I mean look at how conciliatory I was in the first two paragraphs. Unless drunk, I am by nature a very polite person. From now on I’m going to drunk blog.

    Its a question the media has always needed to ask itself, to be sensible or sensationalist, impartial or incendiary? Zac has a point, deep down we’re all pyros, we love to see or set a car on fire. Far from the shock jock spewing vitriolic bile on a sub-intelligent audience ready to do the same, Zac understands the machination of provocation. But when you put on a joker’s hat, keep a fire extinguisher full of hilarious handy. A joker armed with humour can make even the most dire news palatable to a medieval king with a busy executioner. You sometimes need to tip your joker hat so that the king’s court can catch up.

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at May 21, 2009 1:56am, 21 May Reply

    A few things.

    1) I love the analogies used here.

    2) Ignoring the fact that I accidental wrote this as a provocative post and the irony that you’ve all commented, I feel like this is going to require some response.

    @ Lauren

    I think the best blogger is the one who finds the right balance. Admittedly, not all my posts are hardcore provocative, from time to time I do pump out the good stuff or “depth” as you might call it.

    I believe people can be changed by more than just shock and burn, but whether I can consistently produce that is another question.

    @ Haze

    Wouldn’t you agree that even the most appropriate news sources sensationalise things from time to time and run stories they know are going to make sales/viewers?

    Is that what I’m blogging for? Certainly not. But a blog, even with the greatest content on the Internet, without a readership and a community following is not a good place to be in.

    @ Age

    Everything I write is my true opinion, at least at the core. At times I will push it further than perhaps I normally would which is were the stirring of the pot comes in. Do I think that most of today’s traditional medias will die? Yes. Will it happen as soon or as painful as I write? Probably not. Sometimes you have to take something to the extreme to get the point across, even if that means people take it with a grain of salt. Better than not taking it at all, right?

    I would never fabricate something completely just to get my rocks off. ;]

    @ Nat

    Discussion and conversation is the key, which unfortunately at times means you need to bring in more numbers.

    Your other point about my resume and my reputation is something I don’t often think about but definitely need to be considering more. Again it comes down to finding this balance.

    @ Oscar

    We’ve spoken already, but I think balance is the key. And pushing the conversation on this I hope will help not only me to balance the scales.

    The other point you might consider is that a blog needs time to build itself up. Too much fire too early can burn oneself. But not enough never pulls in anyone, not even the firemen.

    I love this conversation and conversations like it. That’s why I’m a fire bug and although I try and hold myself back you’re not helping my addiction by shooting me up with comments. But I think it does stress my point I made originally. None of you would have commented had I written an agreeable post, and without those comments this topic would not have progressed any further.

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