The Engine of Idiocracy

tv idiocy

Here is an unsurprising headline:

Netflix is making a fourth ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ movie

Despite its superior emotional power – i.e., the main reason for its current ascendancy – video, as a medium, is quite narrow, as it lacks the capacity to bear much nuance and variation, compared with print and live interaction.

Add to this generic defect the fact that corporate capitalism imposes strict filters on media content, not the least of which is the crowding-out effect produced by its relentless multi-trillion-dollar flood of very pointed marketing-based sponsorship.

The overall result is a media ecology with an outflow every bit as shrunken and predictable as was that of the terrible old Socialist 1.x regimes.

It is pathetic, if not tragic — and also, of course, entirely undiscussed.

The Age of the Floss Dispenser

In an essay titled “The Tyranny of Small Decisions,” none other than Alfred E. Kahn once noted that

[m]onopoly elements may cause the buyer to be presented with excessively narrow choices that do not correctly reflect that actual costs of the competing alternatives; and the result may be an uneconomic spiral of product quality changes over time [and] so-called ‘product inflation.’

In order to keep the money flowing, in other words, big business interests “may” use their clout to ignore and suppress achingly obvious macro-choices, while pushing increasingly trivial micro-choices.

Behold, then, this:

That, friends, is one of our glorious economic system’s newest offerings. It is a $20 dental floss dispenser.

Nuff said.

Our Media Catastrophe

The Reagan Revolution will go down as one of human history’s most successful elite schemes. As its remarkable run nears the half-century mark, it still shows precious few signs of even being politically named as a problem, to say nothing of actually being reversed. At this late date, what passes for a left continues to wander around in various self-referential circles grasping (perhaps) at micro-straws (including plastic straws) while mumble-ranting about stillborn, punch-pulling neologisms like “neo-liberalism” and “intersectionality.”

One important sign of the continuing addlepated weakness of the forces of reason and survival is their lack of alarm about the fact that, by this point, all the major outlets of public communication are in the full control of the corporate capitalist machine. As folks like Bernie Sanders labor to get civilized medical insurance mentioned within the Democratic Party branding operation, this issue, along with the other unmentioned whopper of one-person-one-vote, lies all but untouched, despite the paint-peeling facts-at-hand, which now make the institutional landscapes enumerated by Herman and Chomsky and Bagdikian look like the epoch of Common Sense and the committees of correspondence.

To wit: In any democratic society, this “news story,” which NBC News, the child of the Comcast theft-empire, would not only have cost Comcast/NBC its broadcasting licenses, but would be Exhibit A in the long-overdue move to democratize and diversify the U.S. communications infrastructure.

As it is, such shameless self-advertising propaganda by the single greatest opponent of universal media accesss goes by completely unnoticed.

13.24% to 24.24%

Those are the interest rates, “based on creditworthiness,” on the pending Apple Card, as oh-so-helpfully backed by your friends and mine at good old Goldman Sachs.

Such, it turns out, are the “interest rates that are among the lowest in the industry .”

“A new kind of credit card,” they say. “Doing things in a whole new way,” they say.

Or maybe just a sign that Apple can’t think of anything other than this to do with its ocean of unused cash?

A quarter trillion ROFLs.

Election, Inc.

There are myriad reasons to find the Democratic Party’s traveling shitshow depressing. Not least among these is the open secret that said party is not actually a political party, but a mere branding operation.

But that is really the point, TCT would remind.

Just as U.S. mass media are, if viewed in proper institutional perspective, a mere subordinate vector within the larger matrix of corporate marketing, so is what passes, in this broken society, for politics.

Just as we wrongly tend to perceive TV and mobile devices as the larger, deeper, primary entity vis-a-vis corporate sponsorship, so we continue to treat the incoherent personality duel that now constitutes our method of choosing our more liberal figureheads as something natural and primary. It is, in fact, no such thing.

One major clue to the actual reality that this is all just a way of filling content hours in between ad breaks is the 18-month length of the charade. Who benefits from that? Nobody but the corporate media and their sponsors, i.e. the runaway American overclass.

Other clues to the gestural nature of the thing abound, of course. Consider, for instance, all the elementary and obvious things it would take to make the United States an actual democracy. Abolition or fundamental reform of the Senate and elimination of the Electoral College would have to top such a list. No candidate, of course, will do anything but meekly hint at even half of this.

One might also ask why the Democratic Party chooses only personages from the corporate eyeball-and-eardrum farms to ask the debate questions, as if that is a natural thing. The answer there is not hard to decipher, if also unmentioned and unmentionable.