Captivating Fools

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Education, Idle Nonsense, Media
Tags: ,

/rant on

I got an unexpected dose of news today — unexpected because I do my best to tune it out and avoid allowing the great simulacrum to influence me too much. It started with the infernal Captivate screen in the elevator going to work, which broadcasts 3-second pablum to the 45-second captive drones (like me) making the final, vertical portion of their commute. In a fit of pique that made it through the editorial process unscathed, the screed screen read that viewers should be wary that anything and everything read and heard today (April 1) just might be lies. Or maybe that should be “lies,” since nothing is really a lie with the right marketing and political spin or prankish motivation behind it. My immediate thought was “Why should today be any different?” Indeed, considering the idiocy emanating from myriad media organs, functioning quite literally as Orwellian Ministries of Information, I’d say most mouth-breathers have pretty much mastered doublethink without even having it forced on them. Call it soft tyranny.

The utter failure of our political leaders and their too-friendly watchdogs in the Fourth Estate together to deliver anything resembling our true condition as late-stage capitalism winds down and the overlapping Carbon and Atomic Eras gradually reduce the planet to lifelessness is the condicio sine qua non of the modern age. For close to 20 years now (by my own lousy memory), we’ve been hearing dire warnings, some from the same media and politicians, that begin “if we don’t address this looming problem now ….” May as well drop that formulation and start with “Since we won’t address problems looming now for decades ….” Report after study after projection all come to the same essential conclusion: destruction of global habitat and the extinction of species that rely upon it for survival. That includes us. Calculating the cost of losses in dollars is a commonplace but completely irrelevant trope.

So quickly after the (ahem) valuable public service announcement that April Fools might be fooled, the screed screen said that a Gallup poll found a change of consumer confidence in one direction or the other. Gallup tracks consumer confidence continuously, but really, why poll the public? Is policy being crowd-sourced now? Sure, the people have power once they can be poked, prodded, goosed, and threatened to move their asses, but the pokers, prodders, goosers, and threateners can’t always predict just where the fickle public mood will wander. Cancel that — they’re actually pretty good at it because, as a nation, we’ve been miseducated and kept in a permanent state of adolescent thralldom. J.H. Kunstler characterizes the great unwashed masses pretty consistently as “demoralized, mentally inert, drugged-up, tattoo-bedizened populace of twerking slobs” or some variation. I concur.

I managed to go a few hours without the constant ooze of the screen dripping into my brain before getting stuck staring slack-jawed at one of the local Chicago news broadcasts, in this case, WGN, billed as Chicago’s Own with this roomful of teeth flashing their high beams indiscriminately at the cameras like an insane clown posse. As usual, the top story was another horrific South Side shooting of women and children then without any sort of contextualizing segue a report on a college student being sexually assaulted in the dormitory shower. These sorts of news stories aren’t lies, really, but one wonders why they are reported the way they are, with some poor on-the-scene hack clutching a mic on a street corner and admitting that “not much is known for certain but we hear ….” Luckily, I extricated myself before getting to the human interest, sports, and weather segments that turn or churn the daily news wheels with remarkably formulaic predictability. Why bother watching?

/rant off

  1. Brian Miller says:

    Indeed. And this was a lovely rant. But, here we are in midst of the “Sixth Extinction”, going about our business as usual and ignoring the “if we don’t address” bits as background pabulum. However, I can only think about one thing after reading this piece.

    When in the hell did they start putting those damn screens in the elevators?

    • Brutus says:

      I dunno when Captivate first appeared, but they’re useless for news of any import. The attention window snaps shut after 3 seconds (sigh, modern times again). So they’re really more a advertising opportunity: exposing those unable to look away to a sequence of brand impressions too rapid-fire to process except emotionally. Now I want Girl Scout cookies.

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