In recent weeks I have been confused, nay aggravated, by the myopia of the press, the fresh-faced millennials upon whom we depend to report the news and views of the people “out there.” My confusion comes from the dubious distinction of “out there’.” On the one hand, I recall that, in my youth, “out there’” referred to life, albeit alien life, in outer space. At the same time, I deduce from its ubiquitous use that “out there” now refers to the distant state or region that is the native home of potential primary voters who may play a role in determining the direction of the nation. So I checked a recent slang dictionary for the contemporary definition and use of the term “out there”. What I learned was unexpected but somewhat explanatory:
out there (adjective) unusual.
His ideas are really out there. Pay no attention to Wyatt – he’s really out there.
In today’s media parlance “out there” refers to any community that exists, citizen who resides, or idea that flourishes outside the Atlantic corridor. ((Paranthetically, voters and campaigns in New Hampshire are “up there” which is clearly distinguished from those who are “out there”.)
The epitome and essence of “out there” is Midwest oriented; potential voters who live “out there” are frequently portrayed as uncultured, uneducated, probably unwashed Americans whose intellectual and cultural mores are not only “out there” but “other” from East Coast sophisticates. By definition, the ideas of the unwashed masses “out there” are at best “unusual”; the ways of the denizens of “out there” are generally unfamiliar to media sophisticates whose circle is presumably “in there” – as in “Inside the Beltway.”
Of course the media wouldn’t think or know about – much less send reporters to – the far reaches of “out there” were it not for the Iowa primary. Because the results of the primary will tilt next moves in the presidential nomination process, the media bird dog the candidates and heed corporate directions to parrot the voices of “out there” voters.
There is a bit of cognitive dissonance in the reality that some notable politicians have caught the collective ear of the voters “out there.” Candidates count crowds while the rookie press corps observe, then interpret and report with observable disdain, the thoughts and politics of the local rubes.
These asteperious* reporters/conveyors of the message personify the dictionary dictum to “pay no attention” to the speaker on the grounds that “he’s really ‘out there’”
As a voting resident of “out here” America I take umbrage at this not-so-subtle geographic classism. As I see, hear, view and read the breathless reports of these vapid reporters, I chortle, then critique, then ardently wish there were an authentic – and readily accessible — way to capture the unfiltered voices from “out there.” It would help me to understand the thoughts of the good people who care, who have something to say, whose voices must be heard, even if they are the humble voices of people who live and vote “out there.”
*Note: “Asteperious”, a favorite word that is not in my spoken vocabulary, conveys the thought: http://arnoldzwicky.org/2009/10/22/asteperious/)