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The Entertainment Superpower and the American Theater of Cruelty at Guantanamo

By       Message Alexa O'Brien       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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This article originally appeared at WLCentral.org.

Between January 11, 2002 and April 23, 2011 (one day before the latest Wikileaks release of the Guantanamo files ) there were already about 15 million search entries25,000 videos, 80 related movies - including an American stoner styled 'comedy,' Harold and Kumar Escape to Guantanamo Bay about the Guantanamo bay detention and torture camp.

While new information has been published in Wikileaks' latest release of the Guantanamo files , a plethora of evidence about Guantanamo's child detaineesits specious justification and illegality  were already available in the public domain. That includes a Senate Armed Services Committee report that stated that detainees were murdered in US custody .

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As Jason Leopold said in my interview with him last week, "Murdered. I am talking about murder. I mean, this report  talks about how the torture program was based on the US military's resistance to interrogation survival training technique...So, yes, you are absolutely right there are a number of documents and a number of reports that are out there. The problem is that people, and that includes some journalists, frankly don't take the time to read it."

'Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo'  is not a comedy. It's a horror show. And, Guantanamo Bay is only the beginning of the entertainment superpower's 'theater of cruelty', coming to a town near you.

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The institutions of society and of government - in other words, the organs of power, their structure, and their relationship to one another - the press, the legislature, the executive, and the judicial - no longer function in a manner that ensures their intended counter balance to tyranny. As a result our nation's civic , civil, and military power has been usurped by the highest bidder, some of them even foreign, and our democratic republic is drowning in a sea of Blackwater .

The Press

Public discourse in the United States of America has devolved into three rhetorical devices: satire, frothy emotional appeals to false hope, and demagogy. The political blackout to Guantanamo is partly a reaction to the intoxicating polemics of the previous generations' culture war that eclipse most public discourse about the shifting boundaries of our social geography and economic life.

Fundamentally, the prevalence of political feeding frenzies and demagogy in our political discourse is a natural outgrown of a corporate news media compelled by an economic imperative.

Traditional media industries operate in what economists refer to as a 'dual product market'. They produce two commodities: content and audiences. Audiences are attracted to content, and those audiences are then sold to advertisers.

Media firms fall under the traditional research and development business model - with its characteristic high production and low replication costs. Since creativity and intellectual property are both expensive and time consuming - what economists refer to as Baumol's effect, media firms have an economic imperative to control the entire supply chain and their downstream access to audiences.

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What that means is that while most industries today are under pressure to flatten their business models, media firms, are compelled to grow both horizontally and vertically. A natural by-product of this growth is that they have the ability to exploit their vertical and horizontal economies of scale by repurposing their content across multiple platforms.

The power of the press lies not merely in its capacity to express ideas. Media firms have the capacity to actually set the agenda for 'what' and 'how' the public in the United States discusses anything at all - simply by virtue of the fact that these firms can replicate, and thereby amplify, their messages across a multitude of communication platforms, which they control.

The print media landscape in the United States, for example, is dominated by 14 corporations, which own a myriad of vertically and horizontally integrated communication organs for print, TV, and film. (Source: freepress.net ) Considering this reality, it would appear, that Comedy Central's Daily Show and The Colbert Report are examples of the alternative press in the United States.

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Alexa O'Brien is a writer for WikiLeaks Central (wlcentral.org). She can be found on Twitter @carwinb

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