Harlan: North America’s getting soft, *patron*, and the rest of the world is getting tough. Very, very tough. We’re entering savage new times, and we’re going to have to be pure and direct and strong, if we’re going to survive them. Now, you and this cesspool you call a television station and your people who wallow around in it, your viewers who watch you do it, they’re rotting us away from the inside. We intend to stop that rot.
1983. Videodrome is one of many movies that fit into what used to be called futuristic , now called dystopian , along with : They Live, Fahrenheit 451′, Equilibrium’ , Handmaid’s tale, etc. They usually depict a world that has fallen into decay , or come loose from its hinges in one way or another.
http://snarkerati.com/movie-news/the-top-50-dystopian-movies-of-all-time/ Videodrome suggests something more than people getting zombified and losing touch with their real existence through a series of flickering images. Was this a sign of things to come? Or was it more a statement on how we have become accustomed to , fail to be shocked by, and eventually come to expect-the hardcore, the sick, the strange, the overt, the degenerate. What is the next logical leap? We become what we consume. It used to be ‘ you are what you eat’, but what about what your mind devours? Sick and twisted served up as casually mainstream, like the ‘humor’ on that dreadful show ‘Family Guy’ , unthinkable not-so-many years ago- the ante has been upped and is continuously re-upped. We have the personal computer with which to distract ourselves, with which to find interaction, if only ‘virtual’ such as in Videodrome.
Brian O’Blivion: [to Max Renn] Your reality is already HALF video hallucination. If you’re not careful, it will become TOTAL hallucination. You’ll have to learn to live in a very strange new world.
What new, awful, personal thing can we reveal about ourselves on a myspace page? How much is your Internet Reputation worth to you vs Your Real Life and those within it? How big of a public tantrum can we throw, what new attention-getting obnoxious thing can we say, what new thing can we do to test our ‘friend’s’ loyalty, what we can get them to do? How many votes we can get? And, if don’t do it ourselves, we can get off on the sarcastic nastiness, backbiting , endless pseudo-debates with people we don’t know. Are they worth talking to? It is yet another example of what I talked about in the last article I put up about the media establishing memes and correlations. In the case of the horrible television shows, they take some little slice-of-life and juxtapose that with something creepy, like possibly gay babies that speak in affected accents (Stewie) or the dad who cross-dresses. There are so many examples on that show of how the media tries to mainstream things that are aberrations. I hate that show with a passion, though some WN actually find it entertaining.
Why does the American public gobble up this tripe, love it with such fervor? I hear them talking about these people as if they know them! “isn’t so-and-so a bitch?” ” I hope so- and-so wins the American Idolatry contest, that judge doesn’t know what he’s talking about!”. Why do they care? Why are they so interested in celebrities? Why do they matter at ALL? Your life is legitimate all by its wee non-TV self. Get it?
It’s something to talk about- so that we don’t have to a) talk about our own selves, B) it fills the uncomfortable-to-some spaces of real conversation with third person experiences rather than reflection on something that pertains to a real person, work, art, joy, sickness, luck, money, birth,death- the stuff of a real existence. c) it fills the space we could have thinking about and planning our own lives. A distraction that says we should be steered away from real experiences, from sharing them, steered away from introspection, silence- and into a world of artifice, sensation- that has nothing to do with us.
If we started giving a crap about what people we talk to in day-to-day life are thinking , and what their real experiences of the world are- as well as our own -what the hell would we need TV for? Instead of craving escape, we might become dissatisfied. We might start seeing things in real life we don’t agree with . We might start caring about Real Things, like War. Like being told half-truths or all-lies by the media. We might start questioning. We might become restless and angry. Worse, we might start speaking to others, and collectively want to take action.
In the little communities that settled this country, or in small villages in Europe, would they have been interested in watching sports, or ‘reality shows’ ? No, they were worried about their own and focused on building, sustaining life, growing food, earning their bread, on creating, advancement , taking care of their children, their sick, their elders, on preparing for the winter, on celebrating their victories, mourning their losses. The idea of keeping track of what fictional characters some group that had nothing in common with themselves had invented would not only be foreign and ridiculous, but stupid, counter-productive. It wouldn’t make sense. That would take away from their own lives, would take away from their own stories and beliefs. Stories about people they had no relation to, that had no effect on their lives would not be of interest. Yet this is the premise of the American ‘reality show’, that we should pay attention, that we should take an interest in what other people are doing in artificially constructed ‘reality’ , that we should emulate them, that we are ‘like them’.
In ancient Greece and Rome people put on plays, enacted various dramas, theater- but that was participatory, it was also a real social event that brought people of one area together. Whether it was entertaining, or whether it added value to their lives is subjective. However, it says something that much of what they did is still around today. Thousands of years from now, if there is anything left-will people think what is called ‘American Culture’ is Spears and Springer? It is as real as TV can make you believe. The whole thing is exactly what they claim Race to be , a Construct. They define and redefine ‘reality’, ‘truth’ , and we look to this Thing, this box of quickly flashing images and talking heads, and we are supposed to trust what they say, buy their crap, and believe they know what they are talking about when they say “this is harmful” , “this is hate”, “this is what you should like, this is what you should be for or against, these are the beliefs you should subscribe to” , this is what ‘normal’ looks like, this is what ‘sick’ looks like- and we do believe it, because we want to trust the box, we want to get approval from other box-watchers, want to live up to The Box’s definition of Good Americans. Are they Fair? Are they Balanced? As opposed to what?
Where is your Reality Reference Point? Do you hold yourself up to actors? TV cooks? Makeover shows? Do you watch those I’m-in-the-wilderness-surviving-alone-with-a-camera-crew shows and at once are impressed but relieved it isn’t you? Does it make you feel warm and safe, does it make you feel admiration? Do you worry if you get a nasty email or if someone posts something lousy about you, whether or not they know you? Media is always talking about being ‘careful’ and ‘responsible’, pounding into our heads this sense that someone is watching, Careful, Responsible, Fair. Many people are much more interested in a Cause only in an impersonal sense- Cause as compartmentalized, fictional ideal, and Real Life as Something Else- secondary at best. Do we value the things we claim to only in a vague, intellectual yet superficial way? Do we want to simply surround ourselves with those things, talk about them, yet cease to be them? Is it too late for these things?
There are things still left in the world that are intrinsically beautiful and good, in and of themselves, no media hype necessary. They have value because of what they are, or perhaps in a utilitarian sense- for what they can do. We don’t need the spotlight and jangly TV to tell us these things when we recognize them, we just know. Or do we? Has TV, junk magazines seeped so far into our supposed waking hours that we now only ‘dream’ our choices, our beliefs- our natural instincts stripped away in the quest for More, Econo, Crunchier, Smoother, Higher-Yielding, Bigger, Shinier, Richer, Thicker, Younger, Longer, Straighter, Thinner, Louder, Sexier, Brighter, New and Improved! 2.0, 3.0, ad infinitum?
Things that have inherent value don’t need to be pushed at us. One need not make excuses for or qualify them. Have you ever noticed that the TV will never, ever tell you that you don’t need something unless its aim is to sell you something about how you don’t need something, whether it be on Oprah’s Plantation of White Gurus, or a late-night infomercial selling you ab-rockers to magically rid you of your unsightly imperfections. Have you ever noticed you will never see an ad that says , ‘Hey, turn off the TV and read a book, here is a list of good ones’. When the TV tells parents to read to their kids, the parents tell the nanny to read to their kids. Ahh, vicarious parenting. Good-illegal-non-stealing-non-complaining-just-like-one-of-the-family help is so hard to find.
Value your life, guard it jealously, and take care of yourself, your own life as it exists apart from ‘internet activism’, mindless consumerism. Do not let the memes that come from TV absorb you and cause you to internalize their ways of regarding the world, their ways of telling you what’s what. Remember how people used to warn off kids from pot because they said it would ‘lead to harder drugs’ and most of us laughed? One rarely hears anyone warning a kid off TV as it might lead to a softer brain, a brain with neuro-illogical pathways. Remember the life you have outside of television, of internet, of advertisements, magazines, shopping, stuff. It is yours, it does not belong to a Machine.
Brian O’Blivion: After all, there is nothing real outside our perception of reality, is there?
“I will only appear on TV-ON TV” he says.