Ken Ring and John Campbell: A televised interaction viewed as media-fu

I’m all kinds of conflicted.

I’m trying to find something to say about the Ken Ring thing that’s a new perspective but there’s a problem.

One of the elements of this story is about the scientific method. The scientific method teaches me that “I have a new perspective” is not a readily testable hypothesis – I would have to read everything and listen to and question everyone to determine that. My friends will be relieved to hear me admit I’m not up to the whole task.

Now, I love the scientific method, and if you are interested in discussing its effect on this dialogue I’d love to do so in comment and tweet, but it’s not the real story here. Here’s what is: media presence.

The public discussion has been about Ken Ring as David vs. John Campbell as Goliath. John is backed by a huge engine, and Ken is an honest man with a cause he believes in using orbital bodies in place of slingshots. Come to think of it, I’ve read a few books with that plot.

I’m not going to outline John’s position in media terms.  He is, along with Hilary Barry, Mike McRoberts and whoever their equivalents are on the other channels, are the bees knees. That being said, I still miss Augie.

Here’s a little postmodernism. We’re viewing them each through different lenses. How are we looking at John? As the once young hopeful turned plutocratic media fatcat. One person I asked said he had to go. Previously people had to bring the office of the Governor General into racially-biased disrepute before that could happen, and slagging off a disabled woman was a boys-will-be-boys faux pas.

Ken? We’re looking at him as a character in a narrative. Here’s a question. If there was a “who’s the bad guy” competition, who would win? The giant, smuggity-smug-smug robot shouting, or the chirpy lil fella just trying to have his say?

Let’s turn the same lens on Ken. Who is Ken? Ken is Augie.

I’ve seen him talk. My lovely wife, who is a regular dynamo in a library let me tell you, invited him a few years ago to talk to our rural community – Helensville being chockablock alternative lifestylers and farmers wishing to get one up on the weather. Most of his talk was solid explication of his theory – in terms which met my criteria for starting a scientific discussion of sorts, albeit one in that forum completely lacking in meaningful data, which he acknowledged, inviting the audience to do their own research. A little bit of it dealt with ufos and other more – but when he noticed the audience shuffling he came back to an excellent wrapup.

Have a look at Ken’s home page. Not as a weatherman, but as a children’s edutainer, a field I know and love. Forget about the background – once your eyes focus anyway – look at that wonderfully concise menu.

So far so good. Now, take a 5 second look at Ken’s professional site. Back? OK, close your eyes, and think of the adjective that most describes it as a piece of web design.

My adjective is: “all laid out up the wazoo and lookin’ fiiiiiiiine”. Really, a great site for its audience.

See the thread? Ken is very, very capable as a figure on three platforms chosen at random. What’s more he’s been a known television and regular radio figure for decades now, despite being thought of by a large number as a crackpot. That suggests one to me just one thing: Whether right or wrong, his ability to manipulate (and I am using  the term clinicially here – social strategies, successful or otherwise, are what make up our social discourse) public perception successfully over a significant period of time must be huuuuge. Certainly Campbell, despite his messianic initials, cannot be said to be able to compete in terms of persistence in the public view.

So let’s put the stories aside. Here’s what I saw: Two strong media personalities disagreeing. John didn’t become hysterical, nor did Ken. They each presented their arguments as necessary to get a word in with each other – and they are both constant talkers, and used the tools they are most practiced with – John his indignant earnestness, and Ken his plucky underdog persona – having had the option to choose between polished media professional and avuncular educator.

What happened? John got schooled. Earnestness is his one thing, and indignant is one thing where he’s most predictable.

Let’s face it, the man lost his shit, and that’s not his job, but honestly? Who of us hasn’t lost out shit this last week. Was your job to be one of the people who have to tell all of us cot cases about it close to 24/7? How much sleep has he had?

I believe that Ken Ring, as a very intelligent person who is incredibly experienced with the media saw that coming. Ken recognised that, and chose to play the martyr – which would just piss a tired, stressed, deeply grieving – as we all are in these shaky isles – John off, and bring a small but telling edge to the proceedings. John’s audience consists of a demographic that believes in allowing even crackpots to have their say, and right now a lot of people are at the anger stage of grieving – tell me you haven’t seen one or two instances over the last day or so. You can’t feel angry at an earthquake, but when you see Darth Vader tell Luke he’s his Uncle Anakin or something and Luke cries “Aw noooooo!” you cry it along with him. Unless you’re not an extreme geek, in which case – welcome, new reader. 😉

John got schooled. Ken, quite deliberately as a device to gain converts to his theory, did the schooling. My respect for John isn’t diminished. My liking for Ken is.

That’s my perspective. Is it new?


About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): Personal including infoculture, book reviews: Music: band page: @seanfish

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