Oceania is now at war with Eastasia

The other night, I was watching various TV shows online. I hadn't seen MTV's "My Super Sweet Sixteen" in forever, rightly so, because that show is a crock of shit, but I am a pop-culture completist, and this very base kind of documentary still appeals to me. I had a few glasses of wine (Chris was at his conferences) and settled in to see Eazy-E's daughter's big-ass party. As I was watching the unbelievably rude, mean, and selfish way this girl was talking to the people around her who were her friends, family, or people who were serving her in some way, I just couldn't believe that that was real. I mean, here was this huge painted portrait of Eazy-E hanging on the wall. I couldn't believe that someone who acted this way was being glorified on a television show, and that, undoubtedly, this girl would have 1,800 MySpace comments telling her how awesome she was. It felt like I was watching a Christopher Guest mockumentary.
It's not just shitty "reality" television. Anna Nicole Smith dies tragically. Drama ensues. Certainly bizarre and fascinating, for about two minutes. Does this need continuous coverage on Headline News or MSNBC, tracking the unsubstantiated minutiae of what was in her fridge when she died? If you need any more proof that the media controls what we care about, you need look no further than last week's coverage. You know what else happened last week? Multiple people died in bombings in Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Iran. In fact, 139 people were killed in Iraq by military-related attacks on Monday alone. A major scientific study heralded the medicinal benefit of marijuana. The world finally got on board with acknowledging that global warming is real. Where's the live feed for that? Where are the "reporters" climbing all over each other to get this story? Do more people care about the shameful gold-digging aftermath of a fucked-up woman's death that care about blatant human rights violations happening around the world? Do we care more about how much some complete idiot is going to pay for Britney's ratty extensions on eBay than the Bush Administration's insolent, arrogant attempt to dupe the public into supporting the invasion of another country? Look, I read PinkIsTheNewBlog and PerezHilton, but I also read The New York Times, BBC News, and Mother Jones. We refuse to look critically at what the media spoon-feeds us (or chooses not to spoon-feed us) and become completely apathetic to the world around us.
Last week before I went to the conference, I chaperoned a group of students on a trip to see a stage production of George Orwell's 1984 at Wash U. They had not yet read the book, but were going to start it this week. I've read 1984 several times, and taught it to my seniors when I was in Bamberg, but it wasn't until I saw the stage version, revisiting the text in my head as actors (the interrogators smartly dressed like congressman, complete with power suit and lapel pin) brought the story to life, that I was utterly and completely frightened. Before, I was frightened of what Orwell thought our civilization could become. Now, I was afraid of what it had become.

1 comment:

...Banter said...

i'm pretty sure you're only doing pop culture trivia so you can have an excuse to watch shows like this. your cover's blown kbo!

point well taken though.