The experience that most Americans live vicariously through television is an utter fraud. As Thoreau said, We have become the tools of our tools. Our lives have become more virtual than real. Fraud does not inform our experience; nor does it provide us with the information we need to make intelligent decisions about life. Like all things American, television has been perverted from a tool with enormous potential for education to the trivial commodity of patent capitalism we call entertainment.
According to consumer advocate Ralph Nader, ninety percent of television is commercial. That makes it ninety percent trivial and about ten percent useful to the growth of human potential. Television is a powerful, seductive, mind numbing drug that renders viewers physically passive, but open to the endless message of blind consumption. It holds the viewers fast while programming the mind to consume and to accept the manifest lies and propaganda spewed forth by the corporate juggernaut that has hijacked both the American government and the public air waves. As a compelling mind altering drug, television is without equal in the annals of human history.
Both television and computer games cajole and control the unsuspecting minds of their subconscious addicts. They reduce the attention span and render us useless as citizens. Those who are seduced and mesmerized by television are not likely to make trouble. They are not going to question corporate Americas version of reality and make waves for the status quo. Television is junk food for the mind that leads to morbid mental obesity. The result is impaired mental function. It stifles free thought and inhibits human potential. Nothing in the history of civilization has been more responsible for dumbing down the American public than commercial television. Television numbs the mind and impoverishes the spirit. It is an essential tool of the corporations that have hijacked the American government and led to the commodification of everything from forests to human labor. Without the commanding and highly addictive drug of television, Americas powerful military industrial complex, with its ambitions for world domination, would be rendered moot.
This point is equally valid for commercial radio where rabid right wing talk show hosts work the airwaves tirelessly in the service of their corporate pay masters. Daily, a cadre of deceitful corporate puppets masquerading as public servants fleeces a gullible American public with their endless drivel and incessant propaganda. They are so effective in selling the public their well coordinated daily talking pointsmany of which emanate from televisions Fox Newsthat they actually convince millions of people to deliberately act against their own self interest. Once the domain of considerable diversity that featured local programming, the public owned radio waves are now the almost exclusive domain of corporations that hold contempt for the public welfare. Corporate entities like Clear Channel have neither heart nor soul. What matters to them are market shares and profit margins. They are raking in billions by tapping into the millions of exploited angry white conservatives who unwittingly do the bidding of corporate America. Here is a news flash for those white, mostly male conservatives: Its the corporations, stupid!
Government is not the problem that conservatives make it out to be. Government is the scapegoat of the corporations that have stolen it from under our inattentive noses. Government becomes a problem when it is run by corporations and millionaires rather than by ordinary people who serve the public interest.
This explains why it is so absurd for Americans to talk about bringing democracy to the Middle East. We cannot bring democracy to any nation, to any people, until we demand it here. We cannot liberate anyone until we liberate ourselves from the iron grip of capitalism and its ugly cousin, corporatism. The airwaves, whether pertaining to television or radio, belong to the peoplenot to the corporations that exploit them for private gain. The public air waves should be used in the public interest. The corporations that have stolen them will never give them back unless we force them to. Do not look to the commercially owned puppets in government to help us. They are in the pockets of their corporate pay masters. It is up to us.
Charles Sullivan is a furniture maker, photographer, and free lance writer residing in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.