Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Don Henley May Have Been on to Something

  I don't  make a regular habit of watching broadcast television, for a variety of reasons.  It's a huge time-sponge for starters, and then there are concerns about content, obviously. I especially avoid  news reports though.
  Does anyone else think  its a  little  psychotic the way  television news is delivered?  It's all soft lights and  exciting theme  music and color  coordinated ties and teleprompters. Its so  much pageantry and theatre over substance as to stagger the imagination, and the easiest way to see it is to abstain from it for a length of time, and then watch a broadcast.  If you stay away from the shiny box for a while, and then  take a peek, you'll begin to understand why they call it 'programming'.
  If you flip through the channel;s during news time you'll see the  exact same stories covered in the exact same  order with the roughly the same amount of time given to each and sometimes  all of these independently talking heads will all use the same  buzzwords and catchphrases, as if they are issued from on high by some  TV news fatwah.  If you then listen to the conversations of people who  get their news this way, you'll hear them repeat these  viewpoints and phrases in parrot-like fashion with no thought as to what they are saying and no  conscious realization that they  were spoon-fed that opinion.
  Every story covered is  in its own little self-contained pre-packaged universe. That's how the news anchor can report on tornado deaths in Oklahoma with a  sad look on his  face and literally seconds later turn to another  camera,  put on a smile and talk about how baby pandas were  born at the  local zoo.  Real people are incapable of compartmentalizing all the  happenings in their life that neatly, that succinctly, but broadcasters do it for a living, and in doing so they present to you a neat compartmentalized, emotional vapid reality that has no bearing on your day to day life. They regularly  spin you half-told tales about people you will never meet. The  goings on and bed-hoppings of  celebrities (whose only skills are their  physical attractiveness and their ability to pretend to be somebody else all day) are treated as if they matter.They mention tragedies that not only have nothing to do with you, but that you are incapable of affecting one way or the other.. They manipulate your emotions  with close up shots of grieving widows and burned out  school houses.  They adopt a worldview and narrative about an event  and  all reporting is filtered through that worldview and   edited to fit the narrative. By doing this , they crowd out valuable brain space and trick you into investing emotional capital in all the wrong places. Filling your head with trivia and banality,  they hope to keep you from thinking too much or looking too closely at what's behind the window dressing, My question is always not 'what did they say?' but rather 'what are they not telling us?'
 "Hey, your government has  declared for itself the ability to kill you without a trial, but look, Angeline Jolie had a double mastectomy! Isn't she brave? Isn't she pretty?  And now  a word from our sponsors."
  Our local news has real  problems with the English language.  During a recent tragedy they reported that  'approximately 15 were confirmed dead'. In my mind, the words 'approximately' and 'confirmed' sort of cancel each other out. How many dead are there?  Are there 'approximately' 15 or  have you confirmed that there are 15?  Doesn't matter, we've got an ad for  Pop-tarts to show you. 'Approximately 15' could be as  high as 20 or as low as 12. But let's not think about that, let's move on to who wore the  most low-cut dress to the Oscars.
  During the 2012 presidential campaign, word came from the fatwah that Ron Paul could not win. The reasons  given were never reasons of substance, to simply declare him unelectable was enough. Step one is to declare his defeat and then step  two was to ensure it by ignoring him and marginalizing his support. Over and over again durng the campaign people were told things like "He's too old", or "he's too extreme" or "He can't possibly win". Both  Democrats and Republicans joined in this chorus until eventually the man on the street would say to you "He too old, he's too extreme, and besides, he can't possibly win".  The shiny box told you that supporting him was  'throwing your vote away', and pushed the idea of 'the lesser of two evils'.  Thousands of people gathered to hear him speak  even as  'conservative' Fox News   reported the decline of his campaign. You see, truth is secondary to the agenda. The agenda is  to keep you rooted on your couch and give you just  enough information to make you think youre informed.  Give you a few talking points that you can recite if the topic comes up around the water cooler, and let's move on to the advertising.
  The advertising's whole point ( and to be honest, I find marketing fascinating) is to make you discontent with what you have, or what you are, and then propose their product or service as a solution. The point is to emotional  manipulate you in order to provoke a controlled response. Too fat? We can fix that.  Old car?  We can fix that.  Never mind that your husbnad   still adores you and thinks you're all that, the shiny box  says you're fat, and here's how you fix it.  Never mind that by keeping your current car ( which runs)you can stay out of debt. we need you to be in debt, we need you to live beyond your means. On and on and on drones the shiny box, 24 hours a day 7 days a week , talking when there is nothing more to say, and slowly  liquiifying your brain.
  Stay with us, the shiny box says. TV time is family time. Oh look, a train wreck in Nebraska, and some celbrity was arrested for driving drunk. Look at those scary peopll with their  AR-15's. They shouldn't have those guns, should they? After all, you don't need an AR-15, do you?  Wouldn't some popcorn be good  right now?  Only cultists homeschool their kids. Police are heroes.Hours slip away, precious precious time, and still the box never stops pumping out nonesense.
  But hey, people love dirty laundry, right?
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