Bad, Banal and Basic. New Age in the Norwegian News Press and Entertainment Media
Siv Ellen Kraft
University of Tromsø
This chapter has two, connected goals: first, to provide an overview of the presence of New Age in Norwegian news- and popular media, focusing on how much in which genres, and how it is represented in these different genres; second, to discuss results in regard to the so-called mediatization of religion thesis, forwarded by the Danish media scholar Stig Hjarvard and others, and thereby to explore the potential and limitations of this perspective in regard to New Age spiritualities. The mediatization of religion thesis deserves the attention granted to it, and has resulted in several useful critical appraisals. However, its potential regarding New Age spiritualities would appear to be limited, and such limitations – this chapter argues - impacts on the broader scenarios depicted. Particular emphasis will be placed on “banal religion”, described by Hjarvard as media-made representations, produced according to the logics of the media and at the same time anchored in “primal religiosity”. Against this claim, it is argued that New Age-logics intersect and interact with media logic in this field. We are dealing with neither “raw materials” nor the random mixing and matching of religious elements from anywhere and everywhere. Rather, banal religion seem to a large extent to be based on established New Age-recipes, and to be cooked New Age style.