The representation of traditional news media in “Spider-Man No Way Home”

Spider-Man has always had a relationship with the news media. From Peter Parker taking his own photos for The Daily Bugle to Spider-Man being the talk of the city, the hero is no stranger to media attention.

It’s interesting to consider how the news media is represented in the recent Spider-Man movie, No Way Home. This depiction speaks of our culture’s current relationship with traditional news broadcasting, especially among young people.

While being mindful of spoilers, the news media in the recent Spider-Man universe has fallen from its towering position of credibility and authority — although it’s debatable if this was ever the case.

The news coverage of J. Jonah Jameson from The Daily Bugle is fear-mongering and propagandistic. It’s deliberately misleading and adversarial to Peter Parker and his friends with whom the disproportionately younger audience identifies. The false narrative pushed by the news looks to undermine Spider-Man and sow division among citizens — all recorded from a small, dark and empty apartment that is manipulated to look like a well-respected studio.

It seems like this reflects a  common sentiment young people hold about traditional news networks — that they’re biased, divisive and hollow. According to a Gallup poll from late 2021, young people are more skeptical than their parents of traditional news media and are more likely to get their news from mediums that aren’t traditional television broadcasting.

This complicated relationship between young people and traditional news is represented in the film through the presentation of traditional media as adversarial, performative and disingenuous. The  lack of the perceived credibility of traditional news is also representative of broader North American culture. Another Gallup poll from 2021 found that 63 per cent of Americans do not trust the news media. 

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling nostalgic for a time when cable news networks were a common tie for a community. Information was trustworthy, relevant and informative.

In 2022, this sentiment has changed. You’d be hard-pressed to find a young person who doesn’t hold a nuanced perspective of traditional news. Political bias, propaganda and corporate interests have made it difficult for young people to view traditional news in a positive light. This idea is represented by the news media opposing the young heroes of Spider-Man. 

Ultimately, the depiction of traditional news in No Way Home represents the general perspective of young people and broader society that traditional television broadcasting is comparable to an angry middle-aged man spreading fear and misinformation from his apartment.

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