Category Archives: Cult of Celebrity
– Janwillem van de Wetering
Money doesn’t talk, it swears
As the cancer that is looter capitalism continues to devour America in order to perpetuate it’s necessity to show continuous growth as we now enter the final monopoly stages it would be wise to realize that none of this were to have happened had our society not glorified the rich, condemned the poor and become damned by greed and lack of compassion. The zero sum game that is big time American capitalism (which is not to be confused with free enterprise) the decades of pillage and conquer abroad not nearly enough to feed the insatiable rapacious monster which is fueled by pure greed has come home to roost. I am often reminded of that old Stephen King story Survivor Type where the dude is marooned on a barren and deserted island with nothing but a gargantuan amount of heroin and has to amputate parts of his body to eat in order to survive. This is the late stage of capitalism, the one that those foul devils Karl Marx and Vlad Lenin as well as every influential thinker with any common sense warned about. This is the continuation of the vaunted ownership society….they own your ass!
Forget the mass hallucination that was George W. Bush’s ownership society, the miraculous run up in home prices where the average shmoe could dream of becoming a real live real estate kingpin like the noxious Donald Trump by flipping houses just like the big boys. With the glorious magic of ever increasing property values Americans could just take out huge home equity lines of credit and live beyond their wildest means, filling their McMansions with shit that they couldn’t afford using money that they didn’t have, all of which debt was then being packaged off into derivitives, what the exalted high priest of the temple of American mammon Warren Buffett aka the Oracle of Omaha once himself called financial weapons of mass destruction. The big banks couldn’t lend money fast enough, with shoddier standards or any foresight of what might happen were the party to stop, largely because the loans were being pureed and repackaged into mortgage backed paper (more like toilet paper) that was immediately sold to investors while the con artists who created it were also using credit default swaps to bet against it. The pigs were gorging themselves in an unprecedented orgy of greed, corporations were getting fat while using the relatively new practice of offshoring to divest themselves of jobs for Americans in favor of lower paid workers in India and other locales and manufacturing was being systematically dismantled in favor of using plants in China. All of it was great until the waning days of the Bush administration when the shit hit the fan and the whole thing blew up.
While phony conservative pundits foist off the blame for the economic collapse on the usual bogeyman black people for taking out loans that they couldn’t afford to pay back, a fake narrative that the racist white trash teabaggers gobbled up like frosted bullshit biscuits it was just another big lie. It would be far more accurate to point the finger at the pasty white social climbers who turned into wheeler dealers as they churned housing, taking out risky loans (which the Wall Street temples of avarice pumped out with full knowledge of their toxicity) to plunk down on skyrocketing properties which they briefly held before selling to the next schmuck. It was only a matter of time until the music stopped and a good many of the greedy bitches and bastards were left without chairs, any sane person could see that it wasn’t real. Then there were the TV addled dopes, the Boobus Americanus who actually bought their dream homes, mini-mansions in exurbia with polished marble countertops, more rooms that they needed and had to be furnished by maxing out the plastic and the two and three car garages in which they could park their SUVs. It was of course a massive disaster waiting to happen and when it all came crashing down former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (also former CEO of Goldman Sachs) went on bended knee to Congress to get a one of those nice taxpayer funded bailouts for all of his criminal buddies on Wall Street. Then came TARP (interesting acronym for something used to cover up a massive swindle) which both Bush and Obama signed off on and in layman’s terms dry-fucked millions of Americans in the ass so that the banksters could continue to get their bonuses and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street could keep spinning. Matt Taibbi has done a great job of muckraking journalism on the gross plunder and pillage that Wall Street, especially Goldman Sachs (or as I refer to them, the Great Satan) engaged in for Rolling Stone magazine. Taibbi’s work is must reading for those seeking to understand how viciously the anal rape of America by the big banks has been, see The Great American Bubble Machine or the book Griftopia for his writing on the crime of the century.
For awhile though it actually looked like there could be systemic change, had Obama had any balls he would have ordered the nationalization of the big banks, the liquidation of all derivatives and appointed a Wall Street crime czar with endless resources, subpoena power and a mandate to thoroughly cleanse the system. Back in early 2009 the financial racketeers were on the ropes, AIG executives were besieged by protesters at their homes, CNBC con-artist Jim “Mad Money” Cramer was being publicly pilloried and left-gatekeeper Bill Maher went on HBO and suggested that hanging two randomly picked bankers by the big board at the New York Stock Exchange with their balls in their mouth would set a good example. Then something happened, the tide turned in favor of the big banking racketeers who had bamboozled Americans by the millions to buy their yachts, only in America could something this obscene happen, a land where cunning hatchetman CEO’s are treated as gods and decades of incessant propaganda have effectively brainwashed a population that while incapable of understanding the most basic concepts of incremental losing into actually thinking that one day they too can be rich!
The bankster pushback actually started with CNBC’s greasy little pimp Rick Santelli went off on camera in the much hyped rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that effectively co-opted the former libertarian tea party movement and brought it under Republican/Koch Brothers control. That would have serious implications later on with the mass counterattack by big business as they had in the blink of an eye with a big assist from FOX an army of angry, ignorant, racist fatties to mobilize as brownshirts against any sort of serious reform efforts. It has always amazed me (but not really) how so many could be so easily duped into action against their own economic self-interests, in a historical sense the Tea Party (just a rebranding of the die hard haters of the GOP base post-Bush) is on the side of the British Monarchy although rich in irony it is far beyond their comprehension. The next step of the bankster’s Battle of the Bulge was the ‘leaked’ internal memo by Citi’s Vikram ‘the bandit’ Pandit that things really aren’t that bad after all which put a floor on the stock market plunge. Then came the 60 Minutes appearance of Ben Bernanke, Obama’s re-appointed Bush holdover Fed Chairman that there were marvelous “GREEN SHOOTS” of an economic recovery already popping up, Bernanke’s jacking off of the public was followed by Tim Geithner’s obviously rigged stress tests of the banks. Lost in all of the hype and propaganda was another critical part of the effort to deceive the sheep into lining up for another shearing at the Wall Street casino tables, the Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB) quietly changed the mark-to-market rules so that the worthless toilet paper mortgage backed securities could now be valued at whatever the pit bosses desired. The hustle had been pulled off, soon the media was focusing on the staged Tea Party bund rallies against Obamacare (really a massive giveaway to the insurance parasites) and Bernanke was crowned as Time’s Man of the Year (now changed to person of the year thanks to the political correctness Nazis).The greedheads got bailed out, the taxpayers got the shaft and the looting spree was back on. To borrow a great analogy from gadfly Webster Tarpley (which I paraphrase) in reference to the bailout – when Dracula is sucking the blood out of a victim the thing to do is to pull him off and drive a stake through his heart but the Obama administration is trying to save the victim by giving Dracula a blood transfusion and hoping that it would flow back into the victim or something along those lines, I don’t have the exact wording.
Now two years after the Santelli dog and pony show, the Citi memo and GREEN SHOOTS the economy is still a disaster, the dollar is in freefall, Bernanke has the printing presses set on ramming speed and there are widespread flareups of unrest largely thanks to food prices sent into the stratosphere by pigs who speculate in commodities. Look for matters to only get worse too, it’s now obvious that the Japanese government has been lying about the massive humanitarian catastrophe thanks to TEPCO’s Fukashima radioactive meltdown which I strongly suspect is motivated by the need to keep the global derivatives casino open for business and there is austerity coming to America along with a failed political system that has neither the will nor the desire to treat the rapidly metastasizing capitalist cancer. Food prices are about to explode her in Der Heimat thanks to gas prices well on the way to 4 bucks a gallon and yet another ruinous and expensive war. As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote: “In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely”.
There will be no help for anybody but the pigs at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase coming from the Obama administration, face it people, the only change that the Pope of Hope really ever stood for was left cover for the gargantuan redistribution of wealth upwards. Obama is quite obviously even worse than Bush as the wars continue and mount in number (under the malarkey guise of humanitarian interventions), the torture never stops, the constitution continues to be disemboweled and the airports are filled with dooling thugs in TSA uniforms with the full blessing of the U.S. government to feel up prepubescent little boys and girls. Hell, Bush never could have gotten away with that one and when it comes to economic relief, Le Enfant Terrible did actually send people checks for $600. I always got a sardonic little kick out of the silly liberals who only made excuses for Obama (and still do) in that he was the chess master, or Michael Jordan just studying the opposing team’s defense and ready to explode at any moment into a whirling dervish of athletic daredeviltry as he broke down the formidable defense of the Bad Boys for the championship hardware. The truth, and it is as dark as the proverbial black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night is that Obama is the chess master, it’s checkmate for the working class and he is just like Michael Jordan, a greedy, amoral, selfish multimillionaire prick who once commented “Republicans buy sneakers too” rather than doing the right thing in using his global celebrity to promote progressive social change.For some reason Jordan’s famous quote conjures up one of Obama’s, the one where he proclaimed that if Americans were being denied their right to collectively bargain that he would put on his own pair of comfortable shoes and join them on the picket lines. This alas like so many other things (wars,closing Gitmo, renegotiating trade pacts etc) was just more of the same bullshit about hope and change marketed by Wall Street’s soon to be new bagman at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American journalist Kin Hubbard “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand glued to a lollipop stick and flying fom the cash register.
Americans, like human beings everywhere believe that many things are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and therefore those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleanic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
When elevating the moneychangers to revered figures Americans have bought the disinformation funded by the plutocrats decades long spending spree on think tank ‘experts’, news manipulation and balls out bribery of public officials to rig the game for the rich. In a decomposing corpse of a once vibrant economy it is only natural that the biggest maggots eat the best. Donald Trump is a shining example, more visible than the rank and file crooks and robbers who don’t happen to be household names like Lloyd Blankfein, Dick Fuld, Ken Lewis and Jamie Dimon the mouthiest multi-millionaire in America is the one who is king. For all of his millions one would figure that a pathologically vain egomaniac like ‘The Donald’ could at least afford a decent rug to put on his head, so much for the beautiful rich. And now Trump is ready to make a presidential bid in 2012, he is already invoking the Birther bullshit to appeal to the peckerwoods and if he has any serious political sense soon will start dropping his g’s to appeal to the dumber than dogshit red state fascists. He will need someone with clout for V.P. though, likely the moonbat Michelle Bachman who can mobilize brigades of the fucked over by the system but too ignorant to blame it on anyone but the niggers and A-rabs of teabaggers. Sarah Palin has for the most part been kicked to the curb like yesterday’s garbage after her idiotic “blood libel” response to the Tuscon shooting where she portrayed herself as the real victim, not Congresswoman Gibson, a federal judge and a handful of others including a nine-year old girl who were murdered. Just imagine President Trump, Vice President Bachmann now that would be something for it would once and forever strip the veil of legitimacy from the gangster fascist state that is America and it’s population of fear-filled, overfed and undereducated nitwits, it would be there for the entire world to see.
I often reference the work of Chris Hedges, a man who I feel is the moral beacon of these heinous times. His latest piece, The Collapse of Globalization truly sums up the hopeless mess that is America in terminal decline and I excerpt the following below::
We are seduced by this childish happy talk. Who wants to hear that we are advancing not toward a paradise of happy consumption and personal prosperity but a disaster? Who wants to confront a future in which the rapacious and greedy appetites of our global elite, who have failed to protect the planet, threaten to produce widespread anarchy, famine, environmental catastrophe, nuclear terrorism and wars for diminishing resources? Who wants to shatter the myth that the human race is evolving morally, that it can continue its giddy plundering of non-renewable resources and its profligate levels of consumption, that capitalist expansion is eternal and will never cease?Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following. And their systems of propaganda have built a vast, global Potemkin village to entertain us. The tens of millions of impoverished Americans, whose lives and struggles rarely make it onto television, are invisible. So are most of the world’s billions of poor, crowded into fetid slums. We do not see those who die from drinking contaminated water or being unable to afford medical care. We do not see those being foreclosed from their homes. We do not see the children who go to bed hungry. We busy ourselves with the absurd. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth. We are tempted by the opulent life enjoyed by the American oligarchy, 1 percent of whom control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.The celebrities and reality television stars whose foibles we know intimately live indolent, self-centered lives in sprawling mansions or exclusive Manhattan apartments. They parade their sculpted and surgically enhanced bodies before us in designer clothes. They devote their lives to self-promotion and personal advancement, consumption, parties and the making of money. They celebrate the cult of the self. And when they have meltdowns we watch with gruesome fascination. This empty existence is the one we are taught to admire and emulate. This is the life, we are told, we can all have. The perversion of values has created a landscape where corporate management by sleazy figures like Donald Trump is confused with leadership and where the ability to accumulate vast sums of money is confused with intelligence. And when we do glimpse the poor or working class on our screens, they are ridiculed and taunted. They are objects of contempt, whether on “The Jerry Springer Show” or “Jersey Shore.”The incessant chasing after status, personal advancement and wealth has plunged most of the country into unmanageable debt. Families, whose real wages have dropped over the past three decades, live in oversized houses financed by mortgages they often cannot repay. They seek identity through products. They occupy their leisure time in malls buying things they do not need. Those of working age spend their weekdays in little cubicles, if they still have steady jobs, under the heels of corporations that have disempowered American workers and taken control of the state and can lay them off on a whim. It is a desperate scramble. No one wants to be left behind.
“In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can’t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can’t look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won’t be there. We won’t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line.”
-Earling Carothers ‘Jim’ Garrison
JonBenet Ramsey suspect cleared after DNA test!
So the whole thing was a big fucking hoax. Yet another hoax on us all or more appropriately a tragic comedy for sardonic cynics. Once again Karl Rove plays the media like a Stradivarius and the media plays everybody else for chumps. The swarm and rush to be the first to ‘break’ the story is yet another embarrassment for this pathetic excuse of a news media. Remember the feeding frenzy over the Sago Mine disaster back in January when cable networks in their rush to beat each other to the punch for the prized recognition of breaking the story prematurely jumped on inaccurate snippets of overheard conversations to report that in the true feel good tradition of our Pollyanna nation that all of the coal miners had indeed been spared from a lonely death in a dank and cold place for a company with an equally dank and cold heart, a company that piled up safety violations as quickly as greedballs in the Republican Congress piled up illicit money from Jack Abramoff and other corporate graft. Once the overwhelming cheer went up for the triumph of the great American spirit and the accompanying faith in the almighty that had saved so many from death the inconvenient truth emerged as it so often does that the celebration was premature and that all of the miners had died with the exception of one survivor. As a wise man named Winston Wolf once put it “let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet” and although painful, Sago was not a lesson well learned by the shills.
Cable and network executives were as happy as pigs rolling in shit when the Karr fraud erupted, they must have been clicking their heels over the good fortune in finding a story that would finally provide the much needed juice that could dominate news cycles for days. Hell, if was lurid enough there would be a long trial and enough newly minted ‘legal analysts’ to milk the sleaze for months and maybe even into the new year or longer. Nothing like a child-murdering pederast to keep that bummer of a war in Iraq and the egregious criminal behavior of the Bush administration relegated to its rightful place as an afterthought while they pimped sleazy tabloid scandal. Then there was always the new fall season would begin and the newest version of that insidious reality television spectacle ‘Survivor’ starts – this time there will be an additional allure as the contestants will be broken down into teams according to their race. The new format is thoroughly appropriate to the divisive times in which we now live and it will likely be bigger than the Dukes of Hazard and an event equal to Southeastern Conference football down south of the Mason Dixon Line.
There is one thing that Americans have come to hold most dear and precious of all. It is sweeter than mothers milk, more important than breathing, more desirable than such abstract concepts as freedom and liberty, more precious than life itself and more thirsted for than salvation. It is the all-encompassing allure of tabloid trash, glorifications of wealth and superficiality (Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and The Apprentice), the culture of celebrity and the soothing narcotic of living vicariously through entertainment that provides both an escape from the ugly and inconvenient intrusions of reality. There is nothing like a nice big hit off of the electronic crack-pipe to ensure that all is right for most in Der Heimat and the fear can remain at bay while the consumer crawls into a cocoon of denial and the exploits and exploitation of others.
The outrageous saturation coverage of the alleged killer that rejuvenated the dormant JonBenet Ramsey media circus is the perfect example of how beloved that scandal and tabloid sleaze have come to be prized in our tawdry,gauche and narcissistic post-industrial culture. John Mark Karr instantly became a household name as the nutty Ramsey case obsessive allegedly ‘confessed’ to the heinous child murder of the one time beauty pageant princess when he was nabbed by authorities in Thailand set the stage for a mass media bonanza that would have provided cover for the Republican mafia in the run up to the mid term elections. In an amazing testimonial to the power of scandal the Karr apprehension even knocked the fear mongering over London ‘Airplane Plot’ out of the headlines. Now that was truly an accomplishment in a land where fear and dread are so predominant that even terror is trumped by trash and the stimulation of subconscious prurient interests.
Never mind that Karr’s ‘confession’ and caveat that it was an “accident” were vague and unsubstantiated the jackals in the paparazzi swarmed much like they did during the Sago Mine fiasco once again stirred up a tempestuous freak show with misleading and inaccurate information in a race to be first to break the latest lurid developments. If it bleeds, it leads as the saying goes and call me a conspiracy theorist but it was yet another fortuitous coincidence that the coverage and resulting media swarm came just in time to downplay Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling that George W. Bush had violated the law by using the NSA to illegally conduct sweeping surveillance on American citizens for reasons that have never been honestly explained. And there was the strange detail that was largely passed over and unexplained of the involvement in the Karr matter by the Department of Homeland Security.
To further interject celebrity into the national discourse Paramount Pictures also cut ties with the much maligned although once adored Tom Cruise although it still didn’t knock John Mark Karr out of the news although it did further relegate war coverage to the back burner again. Maybe people are pissed off over Tom and Katie’s selfish desire to their privacy over the mysterious baby Suri. Maybe it’s because Cruise practices the much maligned and mocked religion of Scientology which arguably is no more of a cult than Tim LaHaye style Rapture Christianity is, or was it when he dared to defile the temple of Oprah last year or to suggest that feeding Ritalin to children therefore creating lifetime pharmaceutical industry consumers as well as nurturing a generation of doped up little zombies wasn’t exactly the best idea. Who the fuck knows and really quite honestly, who the fuck really cares? It’s only more tabloid trash that distracts from the real problems of the country and the world and provides another hit of e-crack.
The blowback resulting from the failure of the mainstream media to present an accurate and relevant storyline on issues that truly affect issues of true importance is only now becoming evident. The emergence of an unbelievably dumbed-down populace – or at least the majority of it that chooses to live vicariously through television, sports and celebrity – are primarily the ones who are responsible for the crimes of the despotic Bush regime, the growing losses in the relentless but undeclared class warfare that the wealthy have been waging for the last quarter century and the ruinous war in Iraq and god forbid, the glorious appearing of the upcoming one in Iran that the neocons and the Rapture ready lumpen Republicans so heartily advocate and live for.
When the media corporations began to focus on profit at the expense of news and more frequently cave in to right-wing activist pressure to present public relations spin under the guise of providing balance and the reduction of information to product they failed and failed spectacularly in providing the free press that is instrumental to a functional democracy. Video News Releases (VNRs) and public relations are present in nearly every newscast, the sound byte has replaced reporting and stories are condensed into smaller chunks for our chronically attention deficit affected citizens. CNN headline news in my personal opinion was one of the worst of all possible things to have emerged from the cable-satellite boom of the 80s as it boiled down complex stories into bits easily processed by the brains of Americans who could then feel informed and free up time for more important pursuits like working, being good consumers and being entertained. Hey it was the American way, leave the heavy lifting to our benevolent and well-intentioned corporations and public servants.
Providing product selling ‘infotainment’, manufacturing news and providing diversions are now the primary function of the mainstream media, a modern day form of bread and circuses that will serve to distract, divide and conquer the masses and enable the looters and hegemons to go about conducting business as usual. If there was any one event that would provide the metaphoric final nail in the coffin or the jumping of the shark it is arguably the elevation of ‘America’s Sweetheart’ Katie Couric to fill the seat once occupied by truly dedicated and legendary newsmen the likes of Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. The ascendance of the fluffy and unthreatening Couric and the imminent race to the bottom once the other three major networks inevitably look to follow the ‘visionary’ actions of CBS in overhauling their evening newscasts to more resemble their morning infotainment shows does not bode well for any who hope for a resurgence in real journalism that informs the public and holds power accountable. Those days are rapidly receding into the rearview mirror as America progresses along the highway to hell that is to be our destiny unless a mass awakening occurs and occurs soon.
The dumbing-down of the population with sound bytes and McNews makes us a joke throughout the western world. Has anybody ever taken the time to watch or listen to the BBC? My God the depth of actual news coverage outside fortress USA is mind blowing in comparison to the crap that passes for news here. Other than miniscule snippets of spin delivered by bobble heads as well as the constant flow of lurid sex offender tales, child abductions, weird ‘news’, fantastic pet feats, animal attacks and celebrity gossip that isn’t real news at all our media is a disgrace. Our networks routinely broadcast in the guise of ‘news’ nothing but tabloid fare so foul and cheesy that to say that it more fittingly belongs in grocery store checkout stand racks is a disservice to the National Enquirer, National Star and World Weekly News. Even these publications have some small degree of redeeming social value or merit mainly as parody and satire to those who are on to their jokes or are avidly into following astrology and let’s face it, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile as the Enquirer did in striking gold with their Rush Limbaugh drug peddling scoop.
When the rapacious pursuit of profits trumps the duty as serving as guardians of the public trust the institution itself has lost any legitimacy that it once had. The fear of offending the wrong people and subjecting sponsors to economic terrorism in the form of boycotts (the zealots of the ‘Christian’ right are masters at this tactic) drives coverage away from important and provocative issues like war, rumors of war, the uninsured, the collapsing housing market, global warming, the destruction of the domestic manufacturing sector and the cancer of corruption that eats away at our political system and selling ad spots keeps profits healthy and the stockholders satisfied while maintaining the stupor of the electorate.
Advertising functions on the maxim of being able to reach the largest possible amount of potential purchasers for any given product or service that is being hawked either through print ads in the nation’s newspapers or in commercials on the electronic crackpipe. In order for this to happen the programming in the given medium must be specifically targeted towards the individuals who would be most likely to be tuned in at the time that a commercial, VNR or product placement insertion is aired. Given that the majority of the public in current post 9/11, cable television saturated America are to be kind, not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer then it is only logical that programming content must be of a nature that they are able to understand or would otherwise attract them.
Therefore you have at least some reason for the general dumbness of television content, it is the classic bell shaped curve and much to the misfortune of all non-idiots, the vast majority of Americans fall into that extremely large pregnant portion of the graph that represents the dumbed down mentality that is so prevalent throughout the land. Therefore programming must be directed at ignorant, easily amused doofuses with the attention spans of gnats and the cognitive abilities of a retarded turnips because that is where the money is at! And that is what it is all about when it comes to advertising and keeping those stock values high. Combine this pursuit of advertising dollars with a secretive and repressive government with an agenda and there you have it: 2006=1984+22.
The problem of media consolidation made possible by deregulation as well as an increased rightward drift into an incredibly narrow minded and short sighted focus on laissez faire neo-liberal economic policies of the mythical ‘free market’ which is in actuality only free to the extent that the bigger fish are able to freely feast on the little fish who are in increasing danger of becoming. The ultimate result of deregulated and unaccountable markets are monopolies of the sort that would not be possible with the presence of an informed and active public. Therefore it is essential for those conditions to cease to exist. It’s not necessary to completely eliminate an educated populace only to make it increasingly difficult to stay informed.
This has led to not only the ascendancy of the infotainment industry but also to the near complete elimination of any sort of real investigative journalism that would offend advertisers and politicians who write favorable legislation to perpetuate the ongoing media power grab as news organizations are forced to cut back on actual journalists in favor of the charlatans needed to transform legitimate operations into brothels of the bogus. The great 1976 movie Network was absolutely stunning in it’s visionary ability to predict the future of news and television and I would strongly recommend that everybody see this, it is truly a masterpiece! Don’t bother to look for it on television though, it is far too uncomfortably close to the truth to merit taking a risk that viewers might be able to break through their immersion in the electronic fantasyland in order to bother to take their brains out of the dusty old box in the cranial attic in order to jump start the critical thought processes that have been abandoned.
Rabid attack shows such as CNN’s Crossfire that was more about allowing demagogues like Pat Buchanan to launch into anti-liberal diatribes against his overmatched counterparts and eventually the shows of shock jocks like Morton Downey were pioneering offerings that fed simmering public rage and slowly began to transform news into freak shows and caustic, think tank distilled opinion into supposed ‘news’. In examining today’s media culture an integral part was played by the right-wingers in ensuring that their daily talking points would be disseminated over and over again, it was classic Eddie Bernays who incidentally was a huge influence on Joseph Goebbels. The witches brew of toxic invective, right wing spin and tabloid television is what the majority of Americans now have come to believe is real news.
The roaring nineties were the decade when infotainment and sensationalism finally ascended to a place above serious and honest reporting minus the accompanying spin, the post cable/satellite explosion and the MTV generation gave way to celebrity and scandal, outright yellow journalism and an array of competing tabloid television magazine shows the likes of Hard Copy, A Current Affair and let us not forget the great contribution to modern ‘journalism’ Inside Edition which served as a primary national vehicle for one of today’s loudest and most bellicose propagandists Bill O’Reilly who has the dubious distinction of quite possibly being the only man in America more full of bullshit and self righteous pomposity than even George W. Bush himself and dare I say an even bigger horse’s ass if that is possible.
The culture of celebrity reigned and there is no better example than the unbelievable orgy of live coverage that was broadcast of the police pursuit of the infamous white Ford Bronco containing alleged murderer O.J. Simpson as it wound through Los Angeles and cheering mobs lined the route. A culture of celebrity powerful enough to cut into the coverage of game five of the NBA finals provoking announcer Bob Costas to remark in disgust that the Simpson orgy of adulation was “not just tragic but now surreal.”, a very fitting statement that could also serve as a testament to the state of America itself as things began to slip away nearly six and one half years prior to the even more tragic and surreal Republican one party government that exists today.
Of course the O.J. Simpson saga and mass media feeding frenzy was not a matter of serendipity for the tabloid television culture, it had been years in the making before the former pro football hero and marketing crossover became an accused double murderer. Before the O.J. phenomenon there was Amy Fisher, the ‘Long Island Lolita’ who shot the wife of her sleazy white trash lover Joey Buttafuoco in 1992. Don’t forget Loreena Bobbitt who cut off a piece of her abusive husband John’s penis in 1993. Then there was the attack orchestrated on ice skater Nancy Kerrigan by the scheming of envious competitor Tonya Harding who orchestrated an attack on Kerrigan with the intent of disabling her during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. And of course thereafter between the glove that didn’t fit and the cigar that did there was the poor little brutally murdered child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey which brings us back full circle.
The agenda driven attacks on every aspect of the life of Bill Clinton until he finally was buried under an avalanche of sex scandals gave us the thoroughly repugnant Kenneth Starr and his relentlessly driven inquisition that was dripping with salacious details and graphic sex talk. Monica media masturbation was the rage, surpassing even the O.J. Simpson spectacle of schlock and became the magnum opus of nineties tabloid cheese media. The Starr Report was a best seller and that mysterious stain on the blue dress became the greatest matter of national import of that most decadent of decades.
A legitimate argument could even be made that ‘Monicagate’ paralyzed Clinton’s ability to function as president and as a result made the country more vulnerable. After all, when Clinton ordered a missile strike on the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant, a Sudanese factory in an attempt to take out Osama Bin Laden the now war mongering House of Representatives was apoplectic, chanting “No War For Monica” and damning the foreign attack with the vigor of a bunch of dope smoking Berkeley pinkos and the media swarmed like coffin flies. Had Clinton not had to worry about the incredibly trumped up impeachment spectacle then he may have been able to actually bag Bin Laden and therefore potentially prevent 9-11 and the rise of the imperial regime of Bush-Cheney. But we’ll never know will we?
The talking heads who deliver the ‘news’ on cable channels soon were transformed into eye candy as well, attractive young women with big hair, nice tits, vacant expressions and most importantly the ability to read from a teleprompter. Yet another damning example of our shameful national dumbness is that according to reports the percentage of Americans who actually bother to read newspapers is down at about 11 percent (and I would be willing that at least half of them only read the funnies or the box scores) and the freefall in circulation continues in the land of cheap entertainment forcing whatever newspapers haven’t been swallowed by conglomerates to cut staffing and to rely more on wire stories and corporate public relations puff pieces.
Who is to blame? Look in the mirror. With the bits and pieces of the crumbling and rotten to core system that are beginning to slowly float to the surface regarding the abundance of government scandals involving bribery, spying, abuse of power, market manipulation, petro-politics and war our naïve whimsical and unrealistic view of America as blessed by God and exceptional over all others could be shaken to its roots were any serious investigative journalism in the corporate media to exist.
What the mainstream media should be covering instead of panting and salivating over Baby Bradjelina is the horrible atrocity of the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha but the craven editors and owners of state run McNews conglomerates don’t want to taint Memorial Day weekend with any such unpatriotic stories, never mind that every day that the Bush administration is left unchecked to continue the massive assault on American civil liberties, the destruction of the working class and allowed to remain bent on instigating a disastrous global conflict is tantamount to pissing on the graves of all those poor bastards who died in any of this nation’s foreign wars to preserve liberty only to see it surrendered with nary a whimper from the childlike cretins of the second generation of television babies. The media should be covering Friday’s closed-door session where Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and FBI Director Robert Mueller urged telecom execs to secretively keep records on all internet activity under the premise of a crackdown on child pornography. CNET news is the only place where I saw this truly important story that has successfully used the cloaking device of full spectrum corporate media dominance to fly under the radar of the public at large. Neither the Washington Post, the major television news networks or the damned liberal New York Times saw fit to cover it although they all swooned over the birth of Baby Bradjelina, all that was missing were their presentation of gifts of gold, frankincense and muir.
Truth Is Heresy: When the MSM is not exalting in the birth of Baby Bradjelina it is working on the behalf of the corporatist state in trashing and denigrating Al Gore’s hard hitting new movie on global warming called An Inconvenient Truth. In the tried and true method of muddying the waters and therefore denying the legitimacy of the debate industry front groups and their well placed and likely well compensated insiders and editorialists have combined to make snide remarks like the following by the notoriously biased Gregg EasterbrookL