Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Entertainment As Distraction And Why Being Entertained Came To Rule Us

The juxtaposition of the two items you see below came from a direct screenshot of Digg this morning. I did not really appreciate the extra dimension of this positioning until I read the article from David Rothkopf concerning his take on our mad Trump obsession (do read it, by the way, it is an enlightening viewpoint).

I have to say that I have a visceral connection to the other piece on the early TV show "Queen For A Day." My mother loved that show precisely because it was both entertaining, and a personal fantasy. To understand that you have to understand that, though the old man could have worked a pretty good paying job as the airframe and engine mechanic he actually had the training for, he could never stay with them (that's another long story I won't get into here). For some unexplainable reason, what he seemed to really like doing was selling things. And the things he liked to sell were used aircraft parts; something you certainly can make money at, if you have the capital at the get go to do it properly. He just as certainly didn't, and as a result money, or the lack of it, was almost always an issue at our house. Not a good thing when your mother was also totally captured by every glowing image of American materialism (you can begin to get a sense now as to why money isn't exactly one of my favorite things).

Getting back to the point here, though, what you have in these two articles is a sort of point to point arc of how we started cycling the "information can't be delivered unless it's paid for somehow" merry go round. A merry go round that goes way beyond the adverts in newspapers.

Radio started it, of course, but Television really put the peddle to the metal when it came to figuring out how to get brains engaged with what was preordained by post war, economic prowess; consume as humans have never collectively consumed before. And go ahead and feel good about it because it just keeps making better paying jobs available, so we can do even more of the buying. What a happily reinforcing circle of betterment.

What, among many things, we didn't realize at the time was the fact that not only were there unseen costs of the production, and consumption, especially downstream of it; costs we not only call pollution now, as well as political upheaval because the resources, and profits, weren't always a fair deal for a lot of countries, but also of what we were setting up as the only way to conduct national dialogue on things of importance. To get people to watch, or listen, at all, you had to have something to attract them with in the first place. And so programming, and ratings were born, and content became a secondary consideration (the nature of print changed too with the advent of the glossy magazines, and the photo ads that would have Marshall McLuhan climbing the creative walls with much broader metaphors as to what was going on here; which is why everyone should read "The Mechanical Bride"). 

So here we are now. On the one hand considering the idea of "poverty porn," and not realizing how hooked on chaos porn we are now, of which our de facto ex president is but a symptom; which itself is simply an offshoot of apocalyptic porn (see my recent post on the growing list of porn types). Questioning our fixation of the ultimate narcissist, our de facto ex president, and all of the things we are not paying attention to that any reasonable nation would if it were sane. But that, unfortunately, is the real, growing problem. We are not sane in ever greater proportions. Why should we be, or how can we be anything else when we now live the age of "The Absurdity Of Growing Up," as opposed to still thinking about the possibility of "Growing up Absurd."

This is what happens when you are every more completely saturated with message; message the primary purpose of being to directly stimulate whatever base instinct is the most cost effective. Sex certainly, but how much kinkier, or naughty, can that be made (do we even want to tempt fate to find out)? So you start mixing them together more, as in fear and sex: bringing "am I fuckable?" to whole new height of social concern. Or how about fear and prestige: am I displaying my importance properly? The right power clothes? The right power vehicles? Etc. 

I think you get the idea. 

So now everybody, including the ideologues, and the propagandists, know the value of entertaining BS. And with properly coordinated, entertaining BS, you can get people, who are made ever more infantile, to do pretty much anything you want, sort of; where what you want is actually more of a lucky form of collateral damage. And that is so because trying to control large numbers of ever more infantile, and insane, people is an undertaking that makes herding cats look trivial. Something our current state of national affairs demonstrates all too clearly.

If we truly value sanity. If we truly value not be kept as childlike in our minds, then we have to accept that having a society where everything is based on the commercial commoditization of everything, so that virtually all interactions are cost based in the abstract sense of counters, and the supposed value of those counters. In all of this if we truly value being whole, completed human beings, we have to accept the need for fundamental change on how we operate. And we must begin soon, if for no other reason than the fact of the lead times involved in getting set up to do it are so great, while our ability to work together is being so quickly undermined at the same time.

Think about these things. Become better informed. Ask deeper questions. Take peaceful action.


The Soul-Sucking, Attention-Eating Black Hole of the Trump Presidency

This 1950s game show profited from the poverty of a new woman every day

They were ‘Queen for a Day.’ NBC was king of the decade.