This holiday season, in between the mad dash of gift shopping and the constant parade of glittering holiday diversions, I find my eyes glazing over at much of the agenda-driven, politically-motivated drivel spewed forth by the vast entertainment machine that has eclipsed our news services with “infotainment.” And I occasionally comment to that effect.
I’ve even been accused of paranoia, as if I were suggesting there is some sort of secret global conspiracy in place…
Can it be?
A finger clicks on a mouse button somewhere across the Inter-Webs, and a data stream flickers through miles of fiber optic cable, uploading data to this blog.
Somewhere in an underground command bunker deep beneath an abandoned weather station under a crater formed by an extinct volcano, a tiny red light begins to glow. Three indistinct figures, cloaked in shadow, known collectively as “The Media,” glance warily at one another. They are surrounded by warehouse-sized racks of digital video designed to slowly erode the mental processes of all who view it, reprogramming their opinions into a watered-down mishmash of vapid ignorance.
“It’s those guys at The Grype, again,” mutters one of the three. “They’re on to us.”
Yes. Because there is no such conspiracy, or group of individuals, or even CLASS of individuals, responsible for the proliferation of idiocy which has lately swallowed much of our media (Reality TV, I’m looking at YOU). Cultural trends are, and will always be, subject to the preferences and selection strategy of their intended audience.
What we are shown— and what we are told— is programmed for us as a direct result of what we already believe, and what we want to see in confirmation of those beliefs.
Sex and violence— and ignorance— proliferate in our media because they sell. Period. The entertainment industry is all-too-willing to give us that in order to make money. All advertising strategy works the same way: the marketing industry acknowledges the wishes and desires of its target audience, and caters to them. But only imperfectly: ad agencies try to give us what we want to fuel our media addiction, yet WE’RE not sure what we really want. Other than a strange sense of communal satisfaction from the feeling of being hooked up, jacked in, and kept current by the electronic barrage of information which is being fed to us, that is.
How can we dash off thousands of emails, Facebook comments, text messages, and tweets while subscribing to hundreds of cable channels and information services… yet STILL find ourselves bombarded with uninteresting crapola, seeking something good to watch? Often for hours at a time? Simple: because so much which is being broadcast is, at heart, mindless entertainment and essentially meaningless. I suspect we’d all have a lot more quality time in our lives if we could just learn how to tune out the unimportant and trivial… especially at this time of the year.
I mean— who cares about Kim Kardashian’s fake publicity-stunt marriage, really? Or Jon minus Kate? Or junk pickers or top pawn brokers or ice road drivers or cake war contestants or any of it? Sure, sometimes it’s reassuring to know our lives seem pretty relaxed and groovy when compared to some of the pseudo-celebrity train wrecks being paraded across the airwaves, and a little occasional schadenfreude can be excused… but who cares WHAT celebrity just tweeted to the world about their lunch salad or their dental appointment?
Personally, I’m currently relieved to be celebrating the mid-season TV hiatus and finally getting a break from the weekly spectacle of mindless, staggering zombies fumbling their way across a barren landscape hungrily trying to tear everyone else to pieces. Of course I’m talking about Knights of Mayhem.
Meanwhile, the odd dichotemy of give-and-take and the subtleties of the relationship between we, the consumers, and our media are rather complex… but I suspect it all boils down to a self-perpetuating symbiosis: the consumer demands what he wants from the media, media feeds the consumer what he wants and better learns what the consumer likes, the consumer likes it and wants more of the same, etc.
Meaning they give us what we want. And we get what we pay for. No more, no less. If we want better, we’re just going to have to demand it.