Thursday, November 6, 2008

on the biddable dissenters

Still sparkle-eyed and giddy after my country "made history" on Tuesday, I felt it might be healthy to balance the scales. Yes, I am stupid happy that Obama won. Which is why I felt compelled to offer up something sobering for consideration today. Enjoy.

Packaging Dissent (aka "The Biddable Dissenters")

One of the truly remarkable abilities of media wizards and advertising masterminds is the dazzling way in which they strip-mine the cultural, intellectual, and spiritual zeitgeist, pervert and homogenize it into fashionable faux identities, and then package and sell it back to the demographic from which it had originally been usurped. Within an all-too-brief span of time, the distinct contributors to the original movement or subculture are assimilated, their own ability to imagine a self apart from or outside of the identity that is now hocked in ads and referred to in editorials extinguished forever.

If we were only up against the psychotropic opiates of the media and advertising giants within this beloved oligarchy, we might have at least a snowball’s chance in hell of still cobbling together a genuine notion of an independently existing self – one that wrestles with God. Alas, pushers are merely rivulets off of a river which is itself fed by an ocean. The juggernaut of our own creation, like a Frankenstein’s monster with Superman’s powers, that will, in all likelihood be our undoing, is this damned free-market-consumerist-infinite-gravity-crushing-socio-economic-undead-thing that obsesses our family and friends, while scaring the rest of the world into sub-to-supra conscious contingency plans. So, you see, it is not just a matter of contriving some crafty way of keeping a distinct line between you and the retro-fitted metro-sexual that looks just like you in the Volkswagon commercial. In this gamut, nothing is sacred. Which means that, no matter your interests or disposition, the carnival barkers have something for you. If there is a niche, there will be products and services designed especially for that niche. This is an especially juicy bit of irony if your niche is anti-consumerism or some other type of lefty-liberal dissent. Thanks to the active participation of dissenters of all shades and stripes who have no choice but to whore themselves out if they want to continue to participate in the consumer-carnival (and they do, they all do), dissent, too, has been processed and packaged for easy consumption. Now we can all feel conscientious and holier-than-thou whilst still buying as much crap as the next guy!

Do you have any idea how many magazines, books, DVD’s, CD’s, T-shirts, posters, cigarettes, coffee, gas, and mountains of specialty products are all designed especially for and sold in volumes to self-designated anti-consumer dissenters? Oh, and not just anti-consumerism. Not by a long-shot. You name the type of dissent and I can name 12 magazines, 20 pay-services, 20 publishing companies, 16 cell phone companies, 10 brands of clothing, 4 pop-icons, 13 fuel companies, 2 video rental chains, and 1000 restaurants that are all heavily funded by consumer dollars from said group of dissenters.

After all, the grotesque festival of humiliation is open to all. And so far everyone seems amply eager to line up and debase themselves through a never-ending series of demeaning acts, so long as their particular brand of gluttony is allowed to continue unabated. Dissent? I don’t know what such a thing looks like. As far as I can tell, this particular form of social action has been virtually M.I.A. since the days of the Vietnam War.

In other words, we have sold our souls, Wal-mart has a “no refunds” policy on souls, and we are freaking other countries out because we have hired their leaders to cut the ribbon on their very own neighborhood soul-sucking Wal-mart.