Through Their Eyes
By David Glenn Cox
George Orwell had it all wrong; he couldn’t begin to understand the change which has overtaken the world. Looking back on it with such a wide-eyed innocence, wow, computers were taking over our world. We could purchase goods with debit cards and we could talk to our friends at inappropriate times, on our cell phones. Even though, we’d read Orwell and Huxley and we understood what could happen, we couldn’t understand what it would really mean. Rather than Big Brother is watching you, a thousand Big Brothers are watching you and you’re watching them.
I was born in front of the television, back when television only came in two colors, three channels – no waiting. Thirty minutes, maybe an hour of cartoons, Romper Room and then, shows over kid, that’s it. There was a naivety about technology; even then, believing they could tame this television to do public good. Educational programming, CBS White Paper “Silent Spring” Edward R. Morrow, but most of it was bullshit, but at least, they made the effort. I watched Hoss and Little Joe and I admired Adam, for getting the hell off that damn crazy ranch, where something bad happened every week. I watched the assassination of a President, his brother and of Martin Luther King on television.
The airways were flooded back then, with advertisements for all sorts of consumer goods, floor wax, tooth paste and cigarettes. In 1965, cigarette advertising was banned on television; some apparently believing television was influential on the human mind. In a way, to a cynical mind, it might appear as a golden opportunity to judge television’s drip on the populace. The Vietnam War was the last time a soldier was allowed to say, “I hate it over here, this sucks!” Since then, only recruitment poster soldiers and generals paid by the networks to endorse war are allowed on the public airways.
Cable News Networks, which aren’t networks at all. Merely rooms, studio’s decorated creating an image of trustworthiness or of homeliness, staffed by paid professional performers. This isn’t, The Honeymooners or Your Show of Shows, but a sophisticated operation, where words are the stock in trade. Words are balanced and cobbled together into ideas, judged as to their usefulness in selling the message. Performers mouth the sounds painting an image, just as a painter paints a wall. And if you change the channel, there is another wall, just like it. Maybe this wall is a different shade of paint, a different shade for men and a different shade for women. Maybe a different paint shade for young and old, a different shade for gay and straight, for black or white, until you have 1,001 Big Brothers, can we build one for you?
A file, a dossier kept on you, on what you buy and what you think? Trained from childhood, to buy and to watch, matrixed into the system, every worker ant is accounted for. Sucking at the queen mother entertainment tit, sold horror and criminality as Shock and Awe. As every trait about you is just another box to tick, assuming, you don’t tell on yourself. This warranty card says you bought a DVD player or a Toyota or a coffeemaker. Use your debit card at the grocery store? Transaction number to invoice number, every product you bought is their data about you. Some say, so what? If your E-mails and phone conversations are scanned and your buying history, your Internet history and your banking history, it means, not only are we not free, we’re most enslaved people in the human history, checked in at birth, checked out at death, thank you for participating, records delete. An electronic robot consumer, with name rank and serial number, Soylent Green is made of electrons. Big Brother isn’t just watching, he knows you, he knows what you like, what movies you watch and where you work, he watches your car as you drive down the highway; Big Brother knows everything about you.
As they say, with every door closing another opens, so I do not exempt myself from this critique. When I became homeless, watching television wasn’t much of a priority. I hadn’t watched any programming in nine months. The first commercial I saw was for a fried chicken chain, a family was going through the drive thru, the father looked like Tom Arnold, over-weight, crew-cut, looking like a none too bright, big goof. The wife was a Peg Bundy clone, a bouffant hairdo, loud sunglasses wearing a leopard skin top. The boy looked like Pugsley from the Addams Family, the girl prepubescent and quiet. This was us, this is what corporate America thinks we look like, and this is what corporate America thinks will make us by their chicken, “seeing” ourselves through their eyes.
In the next commercial on a manicured lawn, a male fashion model throws a football to his fashion model son. The father is wearing a beige sweater as his fashion model wife drives up, in a new mini-van and parks in front of a large home. This was a commercial for a mutual fund; apparently, Americans who buy mutual funds are vastly different from Americans who eat fried chicken, you know, better, more refined. But how do you make yourself immune to this onslaught of radio and television propaganda, of Big Brother in a cloud? You stop watching and you take the $100 per month and go to the gym, or the library or the bowling alley. Instead of watching others in mindless Barney the dinosaur situations, go out and live.
Television is Corporate America’s umbilical into your life, and it is as every bit as controlling as Orwell’s Big Brother, ever was. It tells you who to hate and who to love, and the person they want you to hate the most, is yourself. They sell more crap that way; by making you doubt yourself, doubt your looks or your self-worth. After almost four years on the road, I’ve met you, North and South, East and West. I know you, and there ain’t a damn thing wrong with you. Portraying us as fools and goofs makes it easier to sell the “it’s their own fault” mantra. Crazy kid, $100,000 in school debt! What was he thinking? He was thinking he had a future in this country, before the money man pulled the string.
Remember, the guy that didn’t finish his National Guard duty and the war hero, soft on national defense? Remember that nice smooth, no drama Obama and that cranky old Mr. Wilson from next door, or maybe Mr. Romney, with his spokes model looks and brains to match. An investment banker, wow, that’s a real good choice, I wonder sometimes; who the Republican’s could have picked who could have been less elect able, what with Hitler being dead an all. In retrospect, Obama is the pasteurized processed “Cheez Whiz” President. A media construct, hammered out in a factory, a shiny Cadillac, made from our dreams and tears.
As there are now 1,001 Big Brothers, politicians hide in plain sight. News of outrageous statements or draconian cuts to the poor barely makes a dent in the media maelstrom. Picked up and reported only by opponents and used for fundraising, never reaching supporter’s ears or the people who matter. You have the right to free speech, the more the merrier and the right to be drown out, defamed or ignored.
Inside of this mass media orgy is the real, tangible, sinister creation of public perception. An electronic Big Brother, a faux media world, where it’s “War of the Worlds” every night on the news, feeding you fear and sugar until you die, selling visions of reality which are not realities, which are shams and offences to the human mind. Selling garbage and always selling cheap, filling heads with cocoons of product information, product placements and product endorsements. Whether its carrying chic corporate logo’ed handbags, or basketball shoes, so proud to be a billboard, paying top dollar for the privilege. In a degraded electron lifestyle Orwell could never imagined, we’re swarmed by flies of advertisement, propaganda and media messaging, lambs to the slaughter, they are the hunter and we are the hunted.
Under the Savannah moon, the lion waits with patient hunger, licking his paws. You’re coming tonight and you can’t escape, but unless you escape…you cannot be free again.