It is the sign of our times – our thoughts are owned by corporate America. Their ubiquitous advertising and sponsorship means we cannot help but have to view or listen to their paid propagandizing. We are the ones who pay to be brainwashed. Your favorite football team is on the air and each referee’s call is brought to you by your cellular company, and the 20 yards closest to the end zone is owned by a ketchup manufacturer. “Sportscasters” are simply corporate spokespersons. The propaganda never stops playing so that you never forget to go out and spend. In America it’s patriotic to spend your way into debt so that the economy expands like a balloon. Is that an empty promise?
I have mostly stopped watching television, not from any high moral standards. I cannot abide the commercials. I also no longer tune in to commercial radio. Talk show hosts, political pundits and Fox News are wasting their breath. I can still in this country exercise self control and keep my mind free from commercial thought control.
I am however harassed when on the Internet as banners and pop-ups endeavor to distract me from the content I want to read. This morning for example the browser homepage had as one of its rotating “news” items:
Spice Up Your Kitchen
It’s where People Always Gather
Why not Install a Flat-Screen TV?
Ah yes, in Orwellian 1984 fashion we need to have the TV screens everywhere we are or meet to tell us what to think and what to talk about. Everyone always feared “they” would be constantly monitoring us, but instead we freely offer our souls, hearts and minds as we endlessly monitor the monitors. Put that TV in the kitchen if you haven’t already – its there to dominate your conversation. Perhaps they will soon figure out how to continuously stream those airwaves right into your brain so you won’t even need a TV and thus will never suffer the dreaded television withdrawal.
Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20 RSV).
But He didn’t apparently anticipate American culture where in the midst of every two or three (even in the kitchen!) there will be a television blathering about corporate products you will soon believe you chose to have. The ideas and the desire were all planted in your brain by the omnipresent and forever turned on TV. Jesus will not be heard or even noticed above the din of the television. (In line at the grocery store one day several older teen girls were talking, one was totally amazed to discover that there was an “on” button on her car radio – she was not aware that you could turn it off – why would you?)
Timothy Leary promoted LSD with his “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Television wants us to turn on the TV, tune in to whatever is playing, and detach from critical thinking and just absorb.
As the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy sang in their “Television, the Drug of the Nation“:
“One Nation under God
has turned into
One Nation under the influence
of one drug
Television, the drug of the Nation
Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation”
It has been said that commercial radio and television is really about the networks producing a content that will keep you tuned in to the station between commercials. They do want you to follow the Scriptural exhortation: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” ( James 1:22 RSV). Buy the brand don’t just listen to the commercials. The effective commercial gets you to give your money to the corporate advertizer/sponsor.
Not only that, but you then become a walking commercial yourself, brandishing the proper Logo. You bought the goods so you could advertize their company. It is paid advertizing at its finest. You paid to be able to walk around advertizing their product.
Tom Hodgkison, quoted by Neil Boorman in his BONFIRE OF THE BRANDS: HOW I LEARNED TO LIVE WITHOUT LABELS, quips:
It’s surely the mark of an individual to refuse to be branded. It’s daft to spend money on Nike clothes. The mark of a moron. Anyone who does so has been merely duped by the million-dollar marketing campaigns. To buy Nike shows a sheep-like nature and a lack of imagination and style.
Who in their right mind would want to be branded, like a cow? A brand identifies you as someone else’s property. It is the mark of a tamed and exploited animal. Brands promise freedom but they deliver the opposite: the worst kind of slavish conformity.
Ahhh…. but this is a free country with a free market – we are free to want and buy exactly what corporate America decides we should crave and consume as well as advertize for them since they are after all our corporate sponsors.
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