The most obvious way to think about realism is also the least productive. Our initial instinct might be to compare reality with its portrayal in media, but when we do so, we always arrive at the same conclusion: the media “distort” reality. In representing reality, media makers must select which things to include, which to condense, and which to leave out. There is no way that any medium could compare favorably to the breadth, depth, and complexity of the real world. Media portrayals always lose in that simple comparison.

This essay may be found on page 166 of the printed volume.

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