While the world burns with revolution, radiation, and recession, the corporate world and its electronic media puppets numb Americans with mindless entertainment and celebrity soul-sucking designed to render them bereft of intellect and feeling.
If viewers in Grand Rapids want to be more engaged in local democratic processes, television shows like the long-running Survivor series won’t let them. The show brazenly promotes a primitive social setting of tribal alliances like that long-ago abandoned by democratic civilizations, so viewers will find constitutional citizenship and ethical behavior strange and uninteresting.
If viewers in Little Rock want to be more engaged in humanitarian community concerns, programs like Undercover Boss and Undercover Millionaire won’t let them. On these shows, corporate executives and the neuvo riche mix among the common folk—the consumers they regularly dupe out of college savings for children—and pay back a miniscule fraction of their ill-gotten gain to these same workers and neighbors. Gullible viewers are left to believe that the aristocrats are truly godlike and will take care of the poor, so the commonwealth won’t have to.
If viewers in Denver want to be more engaged in local learning and culture, corporate sponsors of reality TV shows like the Amazing Race won’t let them. This show features Americans galloping around the globe interrupting life in foreign lands and affording viewers a passing glance at non-Christian cultures, so that we can sigh about the world’s economic and religious poverty, and gloat about our own invidious wealth and luxurious lifestyle, all the while sitting on our butts while our own community problems multiply catastrophically.
If viewers in San Jose want to budget their resources more responsibly in the midst of a severe recession, product marketers sponsoring ridiculously inane game shows like “Minute to Win It” and “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” won’t let them. Game shows invite Republicans and Democrats alike to rush out to casting calls and try to land a spot on a show so they can grab large cash the easy and fun way without having to curb their outrageous spending habits.
But there is yet another major focus of the attention-deficit-producing corporate culture in America as well. It is the culture not of the wannabe rich, but of the truly rich celebrity.
The focus of corporate America, the central government, and education, military and religious institutions on heroes of skill and wealth pushes the anti-democratic, anti-science, anti-ethics agenda of the rich and powerful. Our leaders don’t want the people to get any bright ideas of their own. The only respectable ideas are the thoughts of the glam-infested pundits. The only legitimate activities, aside from the labor the working class does for the aristocrats, are the lifestyles and deeds of the bling-wrapped celebs.
Supreme Court decision-making about First Amendment rights must compete for air time with Charlie sheen’s contract dispute over the marketability of his Greek god personality claims.
The progress of Trece gang injunction enforcement must compete with commentary about Lindsey Lohan’s courtroom hemline and with the story of Paul Pierce’s gum-chewing conundrum on the Boston Celtics’ basketball court.
The Lybian civil war must compete for column inches with Tiger Woods’ swing corrections that helped him hit the ball a little straighter at the 2011 Masters.
Even “legitimate” news outlets like major corporate nightly television news programs now serve up prurient pablum to try to woo viewership of their poorly prioritized news products.
America really does now seriously resemble Rome at the time of its transition from republic to imperial autocracy. The only question left is which charismatic militarist — Petraeus or Mullen or some other — is a better modern counterpart to the war-lusting Roman general of the eastern front in olden times? Pompey served as a foreshadowing of up and coming opportunistic rulers like Julius Caesar and the divine Augustus.
Will the first American emperor be a G.W. Bush protégé or a Barack Obama look-alike? And will NBC, ABC, CBS, or ESPN be the first to purposefully sacrifice the life of an athlete on a program designed to mimic Rome’s ancient gladiator snuff contest?