How Could This (not) Happen?
Media has a major role to play in the mediation of consciousness, the mediation of reality.
Three points of view:
To help bring some perspective to the shock many are feeling I invite you to hold and ponder together three interrelated points of view.
- The next president was predicated in 1978 in Jerry Mander’s The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. In our conversation below Jerry described how Form is Content and why our 45th President Elect did not simply fall out of the sky. He was created by the carefully crafted forms that shape corporate media, the most powerful propaganda enterprise on earth, and how this form shapes the content of our consciousness, what we believe and feel. Fundamental changes in the nature and structure of this form gave rise to the content we experience and that defined the next president. They are insurable.
- Having explored the use of propaganda in the rise and exploitive effectiveness of Nazism The Fairness Doctrine emerged from the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, 1945-1949. The policy introduced in 1949 required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission's view — honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, (Ronald Reagan). Robert F. Kennedy Jr, does a great job of describing how the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine transformed relatively clear and effective journalism in the United States into opinion and sensationalized propaganda and how this expanded Jerry’s prophesy.
- Unrestricted by reason, balance and unbiased objectivity Chris Hedges in American Irrationalism describes the current landscape.
“We are blinded to our depressing reality by the avalanche of images disseminated by mass media. Political, intellectual and cultural discourse has been replaced with spectacle. Emotionalism and sensationalism are prized over truth. Highly paid pundits who parrot back the official narrative, corporate advertisers, inane talk shows, violent or sexually explicit entertainment and gossip-fueled news have contaminated cultural life. “Reality” television, as contrived as every other form of mass entertainment, has produced a “reality” presidential candidate.
Mass culture, because it speaks to us in easily digestible clichés and stereotypes, reinforces ignorance, bigotry and racism. It promotes our individual and collective self-glorification. It sanctifies nonexistent national virtues. It takes from us the intellectual and linguistic tools needed to separate illusion from truth. It is all show business all the time.”
From my conversation with Jerry Mander:
(Note: this conversation preceded mobile computers and social media which together and exponentially expand the power and influences the forms and forces Jerry describes.)
There are really hundreds of arguments (For the Elimination of Television and implicitly Corporate-Social Media) which are described in four categories. The first is Environmental. The second is Political. The third is Personal in terms of personal consciousness. And the fourth deals with Communications, what kinds of information pass through the media, and what kinds don’t?
The environmental argument is based on how we have moved our consciousness inside artificial forms - from the natural world to that of a mediated reality. Television has a major role to play in the mediation of consciousness, the mediation of reality.
The political argument explores how the use of advertising and television benefits some people more than other people. Advertising and television provide an extremely powerful tool unify consciousness, which is more immediate, more direct and faster than anything that proceeded it.
The third argument describes how television effects people. What it does to kids. What it does to the way we understand ourselves. What it does to thinking. What it does to us psychology.
The fourth argument explores how television threatens democracy. Television accepts certain kinds of information while rejecting others. Conversations like this would be boring on television and yet violence, sex and sports work well. The medium has a built in bias.
How does this bias affect our experience and the programs we see on television?
Television exploit a genetic fight-flight tendency in human beings. Our most important skill when living in a pre-industrial environment was the ability to react to things that were unusual. We had to be aware of changes in the environment for survival. Television comes along and presents images which triggers the same genetic response. If something violent is happening on television, we will react. We may be intellectually aware that the violence is not “real” but our emotions don’t discriminate. They react. It is part of our survival reflex and advertisers and programmers exploit this tendency as much as possible.
To exploit means to use something to one’s advantage or to take advantage of another weakness. Advertisers, and the corporations they serve, are extremely sophisticated in exploiting television in this way especially when it comes to children.The invest millions of dollars to uncover where our children are most vulnerable or impressionable and design programs to appeal to these weaknesses.
It became very clear, observing my kids watching television, that they were entering into an artificial reality, one where people no longer remember what the world was like without television.It is a reality cut off from the natural world - one created and controlled by a limited number of corporations to sell people products they really didn’t need.
I was very, very worried about that and with good reason. We already have a generation of people who don’t know that there was ever a world without a television. They can’t imagine what life would have been like without television. Look how we have moved through the technological age and how it has established a new reality that has no relationship to the intrinsic values of nature. This is tremendously tragic and the main reason I wrote the book.
You describe very clearly how this new reality, driven by television, is spreading like a huge wave all over the globe.
It came out of love for my own kids and also the observation that the next generation won’t care about, or even remember nature. They won’t remember the experiences, thoughts and feelings which happen outside of television’s mediated reality. They won’t care about it, which of course will doom us.
The full interview; https://ttfuture.org/academy/jerry-mander/jerry-mander
We deeply conditioned by these forms and forces. Do take the time to hold and explore all three perspectives together. Then act.