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Monday, December 26, 2011


     jimmy kuehnle

     twas the day after christmas
     and all through the house
     the ticking clock went
     tock   tock   tock   tock

You can tell it's a house without television. If anybody could talk about it rationally, television is certainly among the more influential phenomena of social change in civilization, but I've found nearly no one who can talk about television rationally. To watch it is to be invested in it, automatically defensive for it, like owning stock in it. The people that don't watch it are on the other side of an invisible divide, a conceptual divide, from the ones that watch tv. It's even more radical a divide than between readers and nonreaders. People who watch tv are in one culture and people who don't watch it are in quite another culture. I don't include watching movies the same as watching tv, at all. Movies are picked by choice and they have no commercials. They have none of the hype that goes with television that cranks one's nervous system way up and holds it there. Television is the propaganda organ of corporate America: Mammon.

It used to be a said in the Third World that whoever controls the radio station controls the nation. Now it's whoever controls the television. It's not me. It's not you. Television is totally a corporate entity, it's purpose to keep the consumers shopping, and to create a myth of reality that involves buying something new more frequently than you're able, keeping you in wanting mode, never satisfied. On tv, everybody is famous but you. You don't even figure except on a poll of how many people watch what tv shows, and that is discovered by statistics, not talking with you. You are the target, the one addressed by the most sophisticated propaganda machine the modern world has known, and the one to be set subliminally into salivation. I think it was in the 11th grade in a Sociology class I learned about the different appeals of advertising, like bandwagon, etc., and realized these techniques were about undermining my judgment, which I hadn't even yet developed, cutting loose uncontrolled craving to the point that wanting equals living. Since I left the house of my parents, I never lived with another tv, except as a video monitor to watch movies with.

At other people's houses I like to watch tv with them, see what the commercials are appealing to today, see the art in the commercials. Commercials are the only art form on television that I've found. I don't ever see ads for anything of interest to me. I don't want a new car. I'm fine with my shaving supplies. The ones that make me laugh every time are about "erectile dysfunction." Havin a problem gettin a bone on? Erectile dysfunction, you can say in church from the pulpit and it's ok. Last night at Justin and Crystal's house I saw maybe 10 minutes of Truman Capote's Christmas Story, which I'd never seen. It was at the time the child said fuck from surprise and parents went ape-shit. Had the child said fornication, no problem would ever have arisen. They'd have thought it cute. He learned that word in church. Like the kid said in the story, he heard his dad say it ten times a day. Just trying to be like daddy. No you don't.

The commercials are entertaining once, even up to half a dozen times, but to live with them in my house on a regular basis telling me I am nothing without whatever it is that costs more than I can afford, I cannot live with that. I'm nothing if I don't want to drink beer in a sports bar and watch football on the nearest of a dozen tvs. I'll die in a car wreck if I don't buy tires that cost more than I can afford. I sit and watch these things at friends' houses and break into laughter. They don't know what I'm laughing at, because they "tune out" the commercials. They still hear them, however. They ask what I'm laughing at, I say a certain something in the content of the commercial and they say, "Yeah, that's pretty funny." Like the one of the kid playing Darth Vader on the Volkswagen in the driveway, and dad inside the house with a clicker starts the car. Blows the kid's mind. (I was glad the car didn't run over him like in an event on A Thousand Ways To Die when a guy started his pickup with a clicker and it ran over him.) To my mind-eye, the commercial of the kid playing Darth Vader was a work of art. It was inspired by YouTube, as so many commercials I see now are.

Even when I see a commercial for something I don't want, I experience that appeal to undermine my judgment and sell me something I absolutely do not want, like a George Foreman grill, making me believe I do, subliminally. When I'm in the over-the-counter medications section of the corporate drug store looking for something like an anti-expectorant, and see hundreds of things that I don't even know what they are or what they mean, that don't even give me a clue to how close I am to what I'm looking for, I know that any person I see nearby I can ask and they'll give me an educated answer and find it by going straight to it. They watch tv. I don't. That's the difference. People who watch tv know what all that stuff is. People who don't watch it don't know what any of it is but aspirin, which the AMA has rendered by prescription now, because it works and they want some payback on it. Tapped into television is a straight line to the worst influence on any human being there could be. That is a true saying. If the US Govt really wants to control Afghanistan and Iraq, they'd arrange it so everyone could see American tv in translation. Them foreigners would acquiesce and become as easily manipulable consumers as Americans. Under control.

I've found that television is the only thing in America that is really sacred, besides money, the given. You can't talk down about television to anybody. The gawkers are right there in your face if you do. Seems to me that's the definition of sacred, something everybody agrees in common is not to be made light of. It's a good source for news (really?) and keeps you up with what's going on (really?). The commercials are necessary for the rest of it (really?) and we don't pay attention to them anyway (really?). What I see is the spaces between commercials getting shorter every year to the place that by now the content between the commercials is there for the commercials' sake. Television used to be about what was between the commercials; now, it's about the commercials. I really don't care to hear about McDonalds Whoppers a million times. I'd rather hear a wren sing. I'd rather have a conversation with a friend. I'd rather hold Caterpillar and watch a movie. Today's movie I'll be seeing again, JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY, by Danish director, Ole Bornedal. In a 5-star system, this one rates 6.


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