The agony and the ecstasy of Kurt Eichenwald | The …

Since then, Rob has divided his attention between his music career and writing, producing, and directing the sort of trashy, B-movie horror films that he loves so much.

"The Agony and the Ecstasy" Movie Review - Jesus …

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) - Carol Reed - AllMovie

The implicit or explicit use of reason as a key motif of counter-reaction raises a final set of problems. The play upon and with rationality takes two main forms. It is most evident in the appeal to rational statistics as well as the writing style and tone that is adopted. The statistics of death—the much smaller probability of death linked to ecstasy against the known deaths caused by less publicised activities—are used to highlight the media's emphasis on the former at the expense of the latter to reinforce the view that media coverage is ideologically loaded. The argument that the media constructs particular cases and deaths as exceptional and newsworthy while ignoring many others is plausible. It is certainly possible to find other cases that have not received as much coverage as that of Leah Betts. But, in the appeal to rational statistics the unstated implication in counter-reaction is that a moral calculus governs news coverage, or should do so. Yet the extent or amount of media reaction to death probably rarely corresponds simply to the numbers involved. As Kettle indicates, news coverage of a disaster is likely to emphasise 'six Brits' over '60 Frogs, and 600 more remote aliens' (cited in Walter 1995, p. 587). Pointing out the far greater number of deaths due to tobacco, alcohol, car accidents, etc., achieves the rhetorical effect of exposing media partiality. But it also glosses over the unexamined assumption that the ordinary and commonplace are the stuff of everyday news. While the question of how 'the news' is constructed is an important one, it is still the case that:

Download The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) HD 720p …

Hence it is at least understandable why there was a lot of coverage given to the case of Leah Betts. The revelation that other deaths did not generate as much coverage does not go beyond what is already known: that news values shape and construct what becomes the news. It does not amount to a case against the media, particularly since counter-reaction is also part of the media circle. To put the case another way, I am arguing that it is not sufficient to uncover that the media is partial, since it is difficult to know what an 'impartial' media would like.
The second aspect of the use of reason is evident in the style adopted by the counter-reactors. Michael Keith (1992) has written about the ways in which academic writing masks its own rhetoric chiefly through the use of a dispassionate tone and style. These conventions, Keith argues, account for why writings that convey anger and emotion can be dismissed as not serious and disqualified from consideration. Though the writings I have been considering are journalistic it seems to me that they employ the same strategy and, I would contend, a close examination of other debunking texts would reveal much the same conventions commonly in play. Hysteria and emotion are taken as the hall marks of that which is to be debunked and this is best done with a 'cool', dispassionate and logical tone. Reason is, self-evidently, rational while emotion is irrational and therefore not to be trusted. Hence reasonableness marks another boundary between 'us' and the I others'. But as Sparks pointed out, reason is not the opposite of emotion: 'Rather the opposites of emotion are the 'detachment and equanimity' of a spurious objectivism and the 'sentimentality' of inauthentic responses' (Sparks 1992, p. 75).
Rationality performs a key rhetorical role in counter reaction because it makes it possible to depict media reaction as moralistically pushing a particular agenda using emotional, even hysterical, language and images. It enables the creation of a dichotomy in which only one side is seen as engaged in rhetoric, as Sharkey (1996, p. 2) demonstrates: 'When drugs cannot be considered outside this simplistic rhetorical context, meaningful debate is impossible.' Reasonableness thus creates a space for counter-reaction to 'cloak' or suppress its own moral enterprise and rhetoric. But opposing views about drugs can not be seen in terms of morality versus non-or a-morality. Paradigms of morality imbue debates about drugs, whether those views come from the most ardent 'warriors' or the most ardent libertarians (see Rouse & Johnson, 1991, Husak, 1992). Both perspectives contain moral positions in the struggle over definitions, lifestyles, etc., rather than morality being the preserve of one side only. This criticism of counter-reaction for its use of rationality is not intended to be read as a collapse into the post-modernist rejection of reason. Rather I am arguing that we need to pay more attention, as Garland (1990) has observed about punishment, to the 'sentiments and passions' that the subject of drugs can and does arouse. The use of reason, I have sought to argue, seeks to artificially disqualify emotion, even though there clearly are sentiments and passions that underlie counter-reaction too.

The Ecstasy and the Agony is the fourteenth episode of Faking It

I have argued against the conventional debunking approach to some sections of the media's coverage of drugs. The counter-reaction contains ideas or themes that are just as problematic as the views to which it is opposed. Furthermore it can be seen as relying upon a rather out-dated vocabulary about moral panics and accused of deceitfully covering up its own moral enterprise. In taking issue with the conventional reaction to media coverage I have spent more time criticising the critics than the originators. This is not intended as a defence of any of the media's reporting of drugs. It is meant to indicate that theorising about drugs and the media requires more rigour than the examples of counter-reaction that I have used here. While the sociology of the media, youth cultures and deviance has moved on (Schlesinger & Tumber, 1994; Morley, 1995; McRobbie & Thornton, 1995) the terminology of moral panics remains stuck in a time-warp that requires a model of social consensus, a monolithic media and control culture and a seemingly gullible, or at least highly suggestible, public to work.
There are however a number of unresolved problems that require more attention than I have space to consider here. In drawing attention to equivalences between apparently contrasting perspectives, the differences between them have been under-played. I have mainly focused on the form and content of reaction and counter-reaction. But it is also worth asking the different views are usually to be found. At some risk of overstating the case, it is probably true that drug scares and the most extreme forms of coverage are likely to be found in the mass market tabloid newspapers while the more 'reasoned' counter-reactions are to be found in broad sheet quality newspapers. If these are taken as broad indicators of the sites of reaction and counter-reaction then the ways in which different sections of the media address and 'visualise' the audience is one difference that could be worthy of further exploration. A second difference is the possible presence in counter-reaction of multiple views about an issue, suggesting complexity and a degree of openness and debate, against the singular perspective that takes the form of a grand narrative adopted in reaction. A third issue is the question of weight and influence. The forces of reaction do not stand in an equal relationship to forces of counter-reaction. There are inequalities of access as well as resources (Schlesinger & Tumber, 1994). More over, the prevalence of political conservatism apparently makes it more acceptable to talk 'tough' about drugs (and crime and punishment) than to appear 'soft'. A recent example is the extensive coverage given to a Labour party shadow minister who called for a fresh look at the laws on cannabis. The response to even this modest proposal was a howl of protest by the media which eventually led the politician to apologise and retract. Hence it is more than likely that 'alternative' views get much less time and space in the media than 'mainstream' ones. In seeing similarities between reaction and counter-reaction we should be aware of de Certau's distinction between the strategies of the powerful and the tactics of the weak (in Morley, 1995).
Of course there are times when apparent media hysteria 'drowns out' any opposition to the orthodoxy, and the media literally circumscribe the limits of what it is possible to say in public. There is also a problem that many of the questions that journalists seek answers to are not answerable in the simple terms that are expected. Hence, there is every reason to question media representations about drugs, to ask what evidence the images presented are based upon and to challenge apparently dominant ideas. However, the simple replacement of these with equally one-dimensional views is not likely to achieve much beyond a sense of satisfaction that the 'control culture' has once again been exposed. Both reaction and counter-re action need to be open to critical scrutiny. Ultimately the problem with both reaction and counter-reaction is that they construct a terrain in which each reader and viewer is invited to position her/himself as for one side and against the other. Thus there are apparently only two absolutist positions to select from, fanaticism on one side, scepticism on the other. But, as I have tried to argue, there is more than a bit of fanaticism and scepticism on both sides.

The Agony and the Ecstasy Synopsis | Fandango

I am grateful to Ross Coomber, Nigel South and, especially, Eugene McLaughlin for their comments on an earlier version. Steven Groarke, James Sheptycki and Kevin Stenson have helped to refine my thoughts on moral panics, though they have not commented on this paper directly.

DVD Savant Review: The Agony and the Ecstasy

The first way in which reaction and counter-reaction mirror one another is in their view of social consensus. Media reaction assumes that there is a moral or social consensus which is under threat or breaking down. Increased drug use by young people is presented as a symptom of this decline, or as a contributory or principal cause of social decay. For the counter-reactors there is a consensus but it is one that has been manufactured by the media and other interested parties. The image presented is one of a monolithic control culture which sees the world in terms of a binary opposition of good versus evil. In this sense counter-reaction subscribes to a comforting, but simple, dualistic conception of power—a world divided into 'them' and 'us'. The object of critical analysis should then be to uncover this false consensus. What remains un-questioned is the nature and even existence of any consensus. It is simply assumed to exist, either as something to be defended or to be exposed. The contradictory and messily fragmented patterns of real life are complications that both approaches prefer not to deal with. The 'one dimensional' picture presented in media reaction which Cohen (1972) drew attention to, is replaced by an alternative, but equally one dimensional, view in counter-reaction.
Similarly, in its concern to expose media hype, counter reaction can also end up effectively substituting one over simple message for another. Either, as the advert would have it 'Just one ecstasy tablet took Leah Betts', or it was not ecstasy at all but death was actually caused by water intoxication, due to an excessive intake of water to combat the effects of dehydration. As the headline in (1 February 1996) stated following the inquest verdict: 'Leah's ecstasy death caused by water. Thus media misconceptions can find their mirror image in the counter-reaction to (which is also in) the media. It can hardly be a coincidence that both types of perspective are promoted in newspapers and other media, since they make equal use of simplification and lay claim to certainty. They exemplify the 'sound bite culture' (Schlesinger & Tumber, 1994) in which complexity has little place. In this world of opposites the possibility that it was ecstasy and water that contributed to the death of Leah Betts fail to suit the preferred framework of either side. As Dr John Henry of the National Poisons Unit indicated: 'If she had just taken the drug alone she might have survived. If she had drunk the amount of water alone she would have survived' (in 1 February 1996, p. 2; see also 1996).
Both perspectives also contain a broadly similar, strong view of media 'effects'. Either popular culture mediated through music, magazines, television, etc., is seen as promoting drug use and activities 'associated' with it. Or, on the other hand, over the top media coverage is seen as promoting a false social consensus which alienates those with experience of drugs and marginalises users. From both viewpoints the media is constructed as a powerful social force with determinate and undesirable effects.
There are a number of other similarities. One is that both perspectives can see drug users as 'victims' at the mercy of drug sellers. For one side, young people are seemingly seduced by 'evil pushers'; alternatively, young people are seen as prey to being 'ripped off by unscrupulous dealers selling them something that is not really ecstasy. Another similarity is that both can treat the parents of the young people in the cases discussed at the outset as ciphers. Either the parents' grief can be vicariously used to promote a particular message about drugs, or the parents are virtually 'dupes' who are being used by the media to promote an ideologically loaded message. A third similarity can be seen in the view that both perspectives have about the extent of drug use. While media reaction might see increased use in terms of an 'epidemic', the counter-reaction concurs with the view that usage has increased dramatically—Sharkey for example refers to 'a million doses a week'. It is notable that there is no disputing (or debunking) of the claim itself, not even much attempt to put drug use in perspective by suggesting that, as all evidence shows, cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. Thus there is agreement that drug use is on the increase, all that is at issue is whether the language and style of media reaction is appropriate or not.
Both perspectives can also be seen to have an implicit conception of the 'audience' that is being addressed, constructed and re-constructed in media discourse. Eco (1979, see also Sparks, 1992) saw 'closed texts' as ones that envisage an average addressee and aim to arouse a particular response. This is more likely to be successful if the text can appeal to an existing 'common frame' of which the audience has already been 'made fond'. In the mass market place of media consumption it could be argued that both media reaction, favouring the individualising 'human interest' approach to private troubles, and counter-reaction, with its use of expose style journalism, are forms of closed texts that are accustomed to constituting their audiences in a particular frame of reference. But the common problem with effects models is revealed in the need to make allowance for the probability that audiences, because they remain regular readers and viewers, may also have got used to 'seeing' and constructing themselves within such a framework. Thus there is a dynamic and reflexive relationship or inter-play between media and audience.