At this point in history the video screen has replaced institutionalized religion as the single most powerful hypnotic in the world. In the USA it serves as an efficient delivery system for the interests of a crumbling status quo, disseminating values that represent the very worst of the era now in its last gasp. (All processes in existence, from the 2,000-year-long Age of Pisces to the Republican Party, are liable to turn ugly just before they die).
In the chart of the USA, the planet Pluto (power) is in the 2nd house (money). By transit Pluto is opposite America’s Venus and Jupiter right now, trying to put out of its misery the over-the-top consumerism that has made the American system so sick. Meanwhile, the behemoth telecommunications industry (Mercury in the US 8th house, opposite Pluto) chugs along, far too powerful and bloated to peter out gracefully.
I think everyone who watches TV must realize that its raison-d’etre is not the programs but the ads. But I wonder how much the average viewer knows about the underlying economics of the industry. Many probably believe that the hundreds of channels at their disposal bestow oodles of choice, and that the many stations on offer keep each other honest. But the titans of this industry number only about four, total; they’ve parceled out consumer niches amongst themselves so as to avoid competing with each other; and they are clearly not vying for the crown of journalistic excellence.
Meanwhile, if the various brain-dead pundits on display are competing for anything it must be vacuity and disingenuousness.
The Super Conjunction of 2009 will go down in history as exposing an orgy of cultural ignorance and myopia. Regional insularity, nationalistic pride and cheap emotion all play a role, and the corporate media does its best to exploit them all. Consciousness-seekers who want to keep their brains intact amidst the ditz blitz of pop culture need to be skeptical of what gets shown on TV both in content and in form. Even dead-serious subjects like tragedy and racism are exploited for hot-button value by the corporate news.
Consider the press conference Obama gave on health care reform, on July 22nd — hours after the total eclipse. The scandalous state of American health care is the issue of the year, and one that the powers-that-be have a vested interest in people not thinking about too carefully. As the conference was wrapping up, Obama fielded a question about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge; realistically speculating that the local cops had acted “stupidly.” One could almost feel the shock in the air turn into glee as the newsfolk in the room realized what they’d use for the next day’s lead story. Not for the sake of parsing in any in-depth way Gates’ humiliation, or the systematic racial profiling behind it; but because the arrest was sexy by the standards of television news. Whereas the plutocratic exploitation of a populace by the insurance industry isn’t.
If offered up as a quick trigger for reactive mass feeling, racism will be mentioned on the news. Otherwise it remains unnamed.
All of the mass media are guilty of this bias. Where I live, the newspaper devoted many column inches and several days covering a DUI crash involving three white teenagers on a recent Saturday night. Reporters investigated whether the deceased were or weren’t wearing seat belts, photos were taken of the balloons left as sidewalk memorials, and officials dispatched grief counselors to the kids’ high schools.
Also that week, hidden in the back pages of the paper was a report that a dozen or so nameless souls, probably illegal immigrants, had died in a remote area of Arizona under the waning Solstice Moon. The number of dead was unspecified. Apparently no teddy bears were left at the crash site. There was no mention of seat belts. We were told that the corpses were discovered “stacked like firewood” in the back of the trafficker’s van.
But because it is the most manipulative medium — and the most voraciously consumed — television is the worst offender. If we choose to get our information from TV, we need to ask ourselves why the idiot box deems certain topics newsworthy; whose point of view is represented in those choices; and why the topics are being framed the way they are. Or, we could skip the whole game and throw the TV in the dump.
Of course, that would have its perils too; given how toxic these electronics-stuffed plastic boxes and radiation-oozing screens are to the environment. But even this issue — that of TV-as-poisonous-object — could be resolved very quickly, if the manufacturing sector would listen to its forward-thinking scientists.
If the world is to survive, the principle of sustainability will have to change the way things are done in every nook and cranny of consumer society. And the wonderful thing about thinking like a revolutionary, which is becoming more and more of an option as Saturn and Uranus oppose each other in the sky, is that one iconoclastic solution tends to flow right into the next.