By Jason James
This morning I woke up and turned on the news.
Normally I avoid the propaganda machine as much as humanly possible but being back in Vancouver has left a giant hole in my ability to see into the outside world and I’m in desperate need of some inspiration.
So I hit the power switch on the idiot box and braced myself for the onslaught of misinformation. Upon my arrival on planet MSNBC I was intrigued not only by the story they were reporting but also how they were reporting it.
Last Friday was “Black Friday”. That magical day after a night of celebrating 389 years of genocide (commonly known as Thanksgiving) where the brainwashed public takes to the street in search of discounted items they wish to purchase from their corporate masters. A day in which the sheep run full speed into the slaughter looking to acquire those special material possessions that make their lives complete.
The story I saw being reported on by the propagandists was one in which a pregnant woman was trampled by a stampeding crowd running through the doors at Wal-Mart. Nobody stopped to help her or even looked back, they just kept on running towards the big bright fluorescent lights of greed. And not only did the propaganda machine televise footage of it, the reporters’ first response was, “Well that’s Black Friday. Everybody wants to get those deals” followed by a quick, “The woman in the video was later treated for injuries at the hospital”.
To say I was appalled by this is an understatement. To watch a pregnant woman be literally ran over by a crowd of people and to not have one person stop to pull her out is so far beyond inhumane it resembles a pack of wild animals running from hungry Lions in the African desert. And to have the “news” condone this sort of action by saying, “Well, that’s just how it goes” says even more about where the collective human consciousness sits.
Over the past 10 years I’ve been closely watching the deterioration of the western world’s moral fabric. Since the year 2000 and perhaps even before, media influence has increased at an alarming rate and the cracks in our have empire begun to deepen and become more visible. As information became more accessible so did the ability to manipulate it. What we have now is a world of people so plugged into this machine that the lines between fact and fiction have blurred completely. A large majority of the public are no longer free thinking individuals but rather slaves to the corporate drum.
So where does it all begin? How did we fall so far into the black hole?
Somewhere between the ages of 2-3 years old is when we’re first exposed to it. It’s at this time that we’re at our most impressionable and our early understandings of the world are formed. Parents, in much need of a well deserved break, sit the child in front the television to keep them entertained while Mom and Dad take some time to spend on themselves. It’s at this moment that we become plugged into consumer culture.
From this day forward as the child grows, so does the presence of media. Music, television, magazines, etc., become a powerful influence and corporations strategically target children through commercials and holidays like Christmas to further implement brand recognition. Once the child enters grade school they are already full-fledged consumers and the education system effectively continues to guide the child into mainstream ideologies and conformity. We’re taught that if we don’t acquire certain materials and present ourselves in a particular way then we’ll never be accepted. In fact, we will be outcasts and undeserving of the same privileges allotted to those who are part of the “in crowd”.
As we leave the education system and enter the world as adults, we are no longer free to make our own decisions. Years of brainwashing and exposure to the media has removed any sense of individual identity and we are encouraged to think of ourselves as a member of a large group of consumers. We are told to buy into the “American Dream” because if we don’t, just like in our previous years, we’ll be forced to stand alone. So we spend our entire lives buying our acceptance. We work 40 hours a week in order to be able to purchase artificial happiness. We devote our lives to corporations only to turn around and hand our paycheck right back to them.
This is the general population or what I call, “The Middle”.
Very few people make it out of this system. Even as I write this I think about the brands I have allegiance to. I will only wear hats made by New Era, my shoes will only ever be Timberland, Nike or Reebok. I am well aware that I spend over 100 dollars to wear something on my feet that was made by somebody in a far away country who was paid less than 1 dollar to create it. Knowing this, I strive to do better but I know that the next time I see a fresh pair of Nike Flights (sidenote: despite what Kanye West had to say, Flights are indeed the best line of sneakers Nike’s ever made) I will purchase a pair regardless.
It’s a hard thing to admit, but I do this purely out of insecurity. I know that by wearing the Nike brand I am accepted. When people see my shoes they will associate me with a particular class and subconsciously that’s what I want. Rather than be judged solely on my intelligence or virtues of my character, I allow people to judge me based on a bullshit social standard. I have knowledge of how this system works and yet I am still deceived by it and partake in it.
With this understanding about myself, I can see how most people are sucked in to it as well. But now, more than ever before, we judge every aspect of a person by the material possessions they own. Celebrity culture, via the television and the internet, has spun so far out of control that virtually everybody is selling something and everything is for sale. We place such a high value on fame that most people in the middle are willing to do anything to get it. To these people, one minute of cultural significance is worth more than a lifetime of genuine happiness.
Normally at the end of these articles I like to provide some type of solution, as I believe highlighting a problem without one is pointless. But I just can’t seem to find one. Personally, I believe that the empire as we know it is falling. Most people in the middle fear this and will resist the next era of human life but whether they like it or not they have to make the change or fall with the old world. We’ve reached the furthest extent of human excess and now we have to start over. We failed as a species and it’s time to destroy and rebuild. Who knows, maybe just maybe, we’ll get it right next time.
(Jason James is an artist, freelance columnist and writer for RefinedHype.com. You can listen/download his most recent album, "Marvelous World Of Color", here and you can contact him here and here.)