April 3, 2003

Giddy with Conformism

There's all this cheerleading everywhere you look. I open this nauseating AOL program and it's cheering about "Going Downtown" in Baghdad, with a picture of a very bad looking soldier practically jumping out of the screen to tear you limb from limb.

WFUV is on, the Fordham University station, a great station that plays great music. But when the news comes on it's NPR, which is now the same giddy, brainless, consumeristic conformism as the commercial networks.

Today they are interviewing the author of a book called "Consumer Republic" and she is saying how patriotic it is to buy stuff. The announcer begins by saying there are many ways of expressing patriotism, like tying yellow ribbons around trees and draping your house with flags, but also -- don't forget -- buy some consumer goods! It's your patriotic duty. Otherwise this fragile house of cards may all come crashing down to the ground.

They maintain this phony cheerfulness about what they are reporting. It's a catastrophe of unthinkable proportions the consequences of which will not be fully realized for a decade or more, but they feel compelled to report it like it's the latest new car design or Arnold Schwarznegger movie. Don't want any bummer vibes on here that might disrupt the "buying mood" and discourage people from going out and spending money they don't have on things they don't need to maintain a system that is destroying great civilizations and the natural environment.

The announcers are like panting dogs, eager to please their masters. Every word carries with it the implicit message: "I am being good! I am behaving myself! You won't see even a flicker of dissent or critical thinking from me! I'm a good cheerleader. Now this."

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