Sunday, September 22, 2002

Media Popularity Is A Matter of Spin Toward the Uplifting, Vapid and Controlling

Postmodern humor: I think that's what to call what is popular in the media today. Basically, it's a contexting game. You mention enough pop culture things and then twist their context to be an inversion of their basic function, and it's "funny." It goes something like this:

McDonalds's Restaurants today announced that it would begin eliminating bodily waste as part of its new program to enhance the image of its bathrooms. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates had no immediate comment, but Steve Ballmer informed us officiously, "They could have used MSDRAW.EXE." The restaurant chain also plans to offer night courses. While evolution would be taught, creationism would be preserved as a "valid theory important to many people," and degrees would be given in the fields of Not Hurting Feelings, Not Groping in Public and Discrete Vomiting. George W. Bush tossed the first handgrenade at Iraqi workers in the kitchen and proclaimed, "A new world order which will not tolerate evil will preserve its first strike capability to reduce threats from those who do not agree." The former cast of Friends were in attendance and clapped loudly, with Jennifer Anniston handing out topless papparazzi photos of herself with her resume, phone number and blog address printed on each. Elsewhere former president Jimminy Carter proclaimed the value of a work relationship with Cuba's Fidel Castro, who recently beat Venus Williams in mixed doubles tennis. Winona Ryder, arrested as part of the Buffalo, NY cell of al-Qaeda, proclaimed her innocence with a public protest involving nudity, an electric eel, and a recording of Martin Luther King, Jr. boffing Eleanor Rooseveldt while Herbert Hoover and Ariel Sharon watch wearing matching dressers. In other news, Adolf Hitler was spotted on Miami Beach trading diamonds for plutonium which he promised was "for medical use only." Speaking of, Nevada today legalized small amounts of uranium, plutonium and strontium-90 for "personal use" by those not already identified as al-Qaeda sleeper cells.

You could easily write a script to generate this kind of weird shit, but in the meantime, this type of thinking rules the media. It's easy to create. It reinforces the need for more media. It can be done infinitely without worrying about a loss of content impetus. Sort of like the soft drink of post-web material. I blame THE ONION in part, SOUTH PARK in part, but generally, a convergence of media itself on the instant, the distracted, and the vague. Postmodernism left the hallowed halls of academia years ago and has trickled into public life, and when you filter vapid TV + the chaotic social self-worship of the internet + the increasingly fragmentary, absolutist view of the world through american politics and culture, you get this mess. "A dog's breakfast" as they used to say at the old country store, before Mr. T came in with Gov Ventura and fed the lot of them what was left of John Holmes.

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