Consensus shredded; major media up against the wall
Television news is shriveling. And it’s under attack from a new breed. You can call them counter-programmers, video freaks, whatever.
But they’re winning.
Every dollar and inch of technology the networks employ move toward an irrefutable image on the screen. “Here it is. Look.”
And counter-programmers say, “Look again. See those guys in the yellow jackets standing right near the bomb when it goes off? They don’t move at all. They’re fine.”
There is something very powerful in that response, because people are addicted to images. When the image you’re watching blows up, because somebody forces you to see something new, you start to wake up and effect a cure, even if you don’t want to.
Image-addiction is sacred to people.
No one goes to the movies and comes out saying, “You know, images don’t really add up to anything. It’s a waste of time.”
No one walks into the Sistine Chapel, looks at Michelangelo’s ceiling, and says, “Why did they bother? They could have just written down a message to explain what the ceiling means.”
No one asks, “Why did they have the president sit there in the Oval Office and address the nation? He could have written a statement or talked on radio.”
So when major media cover a monster of the story, on television, they’re producing images by the ton, day after day, and the anchors are telling us what they add up to, and most viewers soak it all in and accept the force of it as irresistible truth.
If television presents Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston, and if it pours thousands of impact images at us and tells us what they mean, what are the chances television will, upon learning new facts, reverse course?
What are the odds?
Of course, the networks are unwilling to admit mistakes or lies. But at another level, this is television’s unwillingness to injure the medium itself and what it does.
“We showed you all those images and we burned them into your brains, to program you, and now we’re going to say that was an illusion?”
The people who own and run television never turn around, on a huge story, and endanger their medium by admitting that the images were deceptions. Because they’re drug dealers, and their drug is Image.
If the Constitution were written today, people would want to watch it being done, in the room in Philadelphia. They’d want to watch the men at work. They’d want to make up their minds about the Constitution as they would any other television show.
“Well, today, amid long-winded arguments about the proposed Bill of Rights, audience share dropped eight points.”
Why does Obama take the Sandy Hook parents around with him, as he promotes his gun agenda? So audiences can hear them speak? So audiences can see them speak.
Why do the networks lay on those interminable news-talk programs, with hosts and guests? Why don’t they consign them to radio? Because people want to see the participants talk.
“Here, let’s sit down and watch these six people talk. Let’s see what they look like when they talk.”
“I love watching Chris Matthews talk.”
Now, when a person gets on (Internet) TV and blows up major media and exposes it and tears it from stem to stern, that’s different. That’s counter-programming. People start to come out of a dream-state and realize they’re finally watching something they’ve been longing for:
“Here’s a television image. See it? It’s a lie. It’s not what you think it is. Let’s do this in slow motion, one frame at a time. Look at the corner over there. Do you see the yellow glare suddenly appearing at the top of the screen? Just beyond the plume of smoke? At the top left? That yellow glare isn’t connected to the burning fertilizer factory in the center of the screen. It’s separate! It’s coming in from the left. And then, less than a second later, the whole building explodes! See it? So what was that glare at the top left? Think about it. Consider the possibilities. For example, the burning building wouldn’t have blown up all on its own…something came in from the left and blew it up…”
Taking an image apart.
It’s the beginning of the end of television.
And that’s exactly what’s happening now, 24/7, wherever videos are posted on the Net. The assault is well underway.
“Look at that gas mask on the ground behind the Aurora theater. Who does it belong to? Was a second shooter wearing it? And there on the pavement, is that a trail of blood leading into the theater?”
Don’t worry about the fact that some of these counter-programmers are making mistakes or unwarranted leaps of judgment. The overall force is taking down television.
Impaling it on its own sword: image.
Television desperately needs events like Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Boston. When the big tragedies hit, and the elite anchors go on the road and show up in the towns where the blood is spilling and the people are in a state of extreme shock, the television audience at home gets another deep injection of mass mind control, through image-insertion.
But now, within days, even hours, counter-programmers are striking back, by playing network broadcast footage and pointing out flaws and contradictions and mistakes and deceptions, and posting these findings.
“You thought image was the end-all and be-all. All right, look at this!”
Crash a picture, take it apart, re-explain it, and you make people think.
This is the formula that’s burying television.
It’s exactly what surrealists did a hundred years ago. Max Ernst, Andre Breton, Alfred Jarry, Dali. But today, it’s happening to the news, to television. Right now. Story by story. For all to see.
Among many other reasons, this is why we’re witnessing the effort to censor and control the Internet. The news networks want to assert a propriety of copyright on their footage and punish those who use it against them.
Backed by billions of dollars, Brian Williams and Scott Pelley and Diane Sawyer say this and show that, and one guy in Ohio says NO and I’LL PROVE IT TO YOU WITH YOUR OWN IMAGES.
The hounds are loose.
These hounds are sitting in rooms making the networks and the greatest law-enforcement agencies in the world look like cheap hawkers at carnivals.
Frame by frame.
Umberto Eco, in 1979, wrote: “A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection—not an invitation for hypnosis.”
No, Umberto, there was never any chance of that happening. Not as an official program of the culture. Instead, we have a new breed now. And they’re buzzsawing those images, splitting them open.
Big newspapers have so-called television critics who size up shows and comment on them. The Internet has television critics who magnify news footage and point to what nobody saw in it.
“Watch this Sandy Hook father who just lost his child come to the podium to speak. Watch. See him smiling and laughing? Watch it again. Here it is. What do you make of that? Keep looking. See him get into character all of a sudden? See him make himself grieve right there? Are you kidding? What’s really going on here?”
“See the puff of smoke from the first bomb in Boston? It goes straight up. Not out into the street. See those people near the explosion? Do they look bothered by it in any way? They’re just standing there.”
These counter-programmers are cracking people’s junk-image-addiction by showing them a “higher order” of those images.
Remember Wag the Dog, that splendid movie about inventing a fictitious war in order to get a president re-elected? The president had to have a war. He was sagging in the polls. So the war was put on television.
But there’s another layer to the story. Television needed the fake war, too. It always needs staged events. Without them it would shrivel and die.
Except the events have to look exactly like “real life.”
When counter-programmers get busy, they reveal the staging, and the whole business falls to pieces.
“Hooked? Do you feel like you’re going to die if you don’t turn on the TV set? Sign up for our ten-day cure. We’ll turn you into a counter-programmer. We’ll take you through our wake-up course in image analysis, and you’ll come out the other side as a meta-wizard, ready to take on the world of false news.”
To say this is corrosive to network television news is a vast understatement. It’s a Waterloo.
Against the citizen video-analysts, television would have only one solution: stop broadcasting footage.
Here is a fragment from a short story I wrote a few days after the Aurora theater massacre. It illustrates the potential effect of a counter-programmer:
I sat in my private cabin and watched wall screens displaying decks on the slow-moving airship; I understood there were seven levels.
On Deck Three, I saw Mr. R. Smith-Jones, a fifth-generation android, who was occupying two rows. He was propped up on a wheelchair-couch.
He was growling and snarling at a doughy flight attendant turned out in a jeans tuxedo and a sombrero made of balloons and artificial peacock feathers.
Smith-Jones’ infamous three-year case, tried in the Superior Court of Newfoundland New York, had ground to a halt, when Judge Sleepy Shigitz decided Smith-Jones had earned the right to multiple classifications of Life Disabled.
On the screen, Smith-Jones was waving two objects which, to me, looked like cataclysmic salt shakers. They were spewing crystals that emitted smoke when they hit the air. Passengers started coughing.
Then I realized Smith-Jones was holding patterning cylinders he’d pulled from his innards. These cylinders played a major role in what his Alamo designers called Repetitive Accommodation. I knew this because Smith-Jones had pulled the trick a number of times, on each occasion subsequently filing suit for environmental incursion. Once, as porters were pushing him up the Matterhorn in his wheel-chair couch, he’d yanked out the cylinders, asserting the thinning atmosphere was slowing down his speech-recognition faculty; he’d won a major settlement in a Swiss tribunal.
All in all, over the course of a hundred years, Smith-Jones’ lawsuits had earned him more than twenty billion dollars.
Now he was foaming at the mouth and spitting. He doubled over and a siren went off. It was amplified by a speaker in his skull. A security guard appeared with a riot baton and sent a blue fork of electricity into his genitals, quieting him somewhat.
Smith-Jones was the majority stockholder of NBCCBSABC Networks, Inc. As such, he had at his disposal the InZap technology.
He deployed it now.
At horrific high speed, he began broadcasting images of a flaming city and people dying and crackling in the heat. Then, black tanks appeared. Soldiers dressed in combat gear moved in and sprayed streets with chemical retardant from wide hoses.
The flames died. Other soldiers ran down and arrested two fleeing suspects, and the InZAP emitted waves of relief throughout Smith-Jones’ cabin. People wept in their seats.
Smith-Jones said, “Thus we are rescued.”
“Thank God,” one passenger said.
A scruffy boy stood up and aimed his cell at a white wall. Pictures appeared there. “As you can see,” he said, “ people actually fried and died, but over at the far right of the street, a soldier is setting the initial fire. See him? The two suspects they caught later were patsies.”
Everyone looked, and everyone froze.
Smith-Jones said, “You don’t understand. I can take all those images away, as if they’d never existed. I own them.”
“Right,” the boy said. “But then what are you going to put on television? Giraffes? Peaceful streets at night under a warm moon?”
Three days later, I would learn that: reclining in his suite at the Ritz Hotel in Beverly Hills, sketching out yet another cause-for-action, this time for improper Hotel tech support on his (merely decorative) breathing apparatus, Smith-Jones stopped functioning.
He entered a state of paralysis. He shut down. According to Hotel employees, he wore an unchanging expression of sadness.
On his night table, he’d left a note:
“My existence is zero. I seem to be employing an unending string of morons who can’t plan and execute a disaster without exposing themselves.
“It’s a bit ironic that the desecration of IQ I’ve fostered all these years, through the medium I own and control, has also been my undoing. Operatives are now unable to perform. I hire them; they fail me.
“The entire population has brains of oatmeal. Yet, when some nobody points out a fatal flaw in my news stream, they all begin to wake up. How is that possible?
“I could sue and sue and sue and gain all the money in the world, but it appears I’m incapable of placing humans in a trance whereby they forget I’m just a machine, a heartless bastard of a machine.
“And that’s all I ever wanted. To make people think of me as one of their own. But I never will. And now I am Not.”