Skip to main content

Nothing is real: when reality TV programming masquerades as politics

Ultimately, the reality shows, the entertainment news, the surveillance society, the militarized police, and the political spectacles have one common objective: to keep us divided, distracted, imprisoned, and incapable of taking an active role in the business of self-government.

by John W. Whitehead

Donald Trump no longer needs to launch Trump TV.

He’s already the star of his own political reality show.

Americans have a voracious appetite for TV entertainment, and the Trump reality show—guest starring outraged Democrats with a newly awakened conscience for immigrants and the poor, power-hungry Republicans eager to take advantage of their return to power, and a hodgepodge of other special interest groups with dubious motives—feeds that appetite for titillating, soap opera drama.

After all, who needs the insults, narcissism and power plays that are hallmarks of reality shows such as Celebrity Apprentice or Keeping Up with the Kardashians when you can have all that and more delivered up by the likes of Donald Trump and his cohorts?

Yet as John Lennon reminds us, “nothing is real,” especially not in the world of politics.

Much like the fabricated universe in Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show, in which a man’s life is the basis for an elaborately staged television show aimed at selling products and procuring ratings, the political scene in the United States has devolved over the years into a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control a population.

Indeed, Donald Trump may be the smartest move yet by the powers-that-be to keep the citizenry divided and at each other’s throats, because as long as we’re busy fighting each other, we’ll never manage to present a unified front against tyranny in any form.

This is the magic of the reality TV programming that passes for politics today.

It allows us to be distracted, entertained, occasionally a little bit outraged but overall largely uninvolved, content to remain in the viewer’s seat.

The more that is beamed at us, the more inclined we are to settle back in our comfy recliners and become passive viewers rather than active participants as unsettling, frightening events unfold.

Reality and fiction merge as everything around us becomes entertainment fodder.

We don’t even have to change the channel when the subject matter becomes too monotonous. That’s taken care of for us by the programmers (the corporate media).

For instance, before we could get too worked up over government surveillance, the programmers changed the channels on us and switched us over to breaking news about militarized police. Before our outrage could be transformed into action over police misconduct, they changed the channel once again to reports of ISIS beheadings and terrorist shootings. Before we had a chance to challenge what was staged or real, the programming switched to the 2016 presidential election.

Living is easy with eyes closed,” says Lennon, and that’s exactly what reality TV that masquerades as American politics programs the citizenry to do: navigate the world with their eyes shut.

As long as we’re viewers, we’ll never be doers.

Studies suggest that the more reality TV people watch—and I would posit that it’s all reality TV—the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between what is real and what is carefully crafted farce.

We the people” are watching a lot of TV.

On average, Americans spend five hours a day watching television. By the time we reach age 65, we’re watching more than 50 hours of television a week, and that number increases as we get older. And reality TV programming consistently captures the largest percentage of TV watchers every season by an almost 2-1 ratio.

This doesn’t bode well for a citizenry able to sift through masterfully-produced propaganda in order to think critically about the issues of the day, whether it’s fake news peddled by government agencies or foreign entities.

Those who watch reality shows tend to view what they see as the “norm.” Thus, those who watch shows characterized by lying, aggression and meanness not only come to see such behavior as acceptable and entertaining but also mimic the medium.

This holds true whether the reality programming is about the antics of celebrities in the White House, in the board room, or in the bedroom.

It’s a phenomenon called “humilitainment.”

A term coined by media scholars Brad Waite and Sara Booker, “humilitainment” refers to the tendency for viewers to take pleasure in someone else’s humiliation, suffering and pain.

Humilitainment” largely explains not only why American TV watchers are so fixated on reality TV programming but how American citizens, largely insulated from what is really happening in the world around them by layers of technology, entertainment, and other distractions, are being programmed to accept the brutality, surveillance and dehumanizing treatment of the American police state as things happening to other people.

The ramifications for the future of civic engagement, political discourse and self-government are incredibly depressing and demoralizing.

This not only explains how a candidate like Donald Trump with a reputation for being rude, egotistical and narcissistic could get elected, but it also says a lot about how a politician like Barack Obama—whose tenure in the White House was characterized by drone killings, a weakening of the Constitution at the expense of Americans’ civil liberties, and an expansion of the police state—could be hailed as “one of the greatest presidents of all times.”

This is what happens when an entire nation—bombarded by reality TV programming, government propaganda and entertainment news—becomes systematically desensitized and acclimated to the trappings of a government that operates by fiat and speaks in a language of force.

Ultimately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the reality shows, the entertainment news, the surveillance society, the militarized police, and the political spectacles have one common objective: to keep us divided, distracted, imprisoned, and incapable of taking an active role in the business of self-government.

If “we the people” feel powerless and apathetic, it is only because we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that the duties of citizenship begin and end at the ballot box.

Marching and protests have certainly been used with great success by past movements to foment real change, but if those marches and protests are merely outpourings of discontent because a particular politician won or lost with no solid plan of action or follow-through, then what’s the point?

Martin Luther King Jr. understood that politics could never be the answer to what ailed the country. That’s why he spearheaded a movement of mass-action strategy that employed boycotts, sit-ins and marches. Yet King didn’t march against a particular politician or merely to express discontent. He marched against injustice, government corruption, war, and inequality, and he leveraged discontent with the status quo into an activist movement that transformed the face of America.

When all is said and done, it won’t matter who you voted for in the presidential election. What will matter is where you stand in the face of the injustices that continue to ravage our nation: the endless wars, the police shootings, the overcriminalization, the corruption, the graft, the roadside strip searches, the private prisons, the surveillance state, etc.

Will you tune out the reality TV show and join with your fellow citizens to push back against the real menace of the police state, or will you merely sit back and lose yourself in the political programming aimed at keeping you imprisoned in the police state?


There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque. No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures…. it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship pervasive…. Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours…. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

  - Neil Postman

Source:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Establishment's attempt to promote the hardcore neoliberal Kamala Harris up to the presidency through the back door

globinfo freexchange
Rumours spread around the mainstream quickly on July, 28, whenPolitico "accidentally[?] published a report that Biden picked Harris as his running mate. The outlet quickly deleted the report, and said it was published by mistake. "For a brief period yesterday afternoon, placeholder text was mistakenly published to the site," Brad Dayspring, Politico's vice president of marketing and communications, told The Hill."
Huh?

Politico labeled Sen. Kamala Harris as Biden's running mate... that he chose on August 1 (4 days from now).https://t.co/M3dhmIwZ7opic.twitter.com/99GDHzWPnL — Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) July 28, 2020
How did that happen? 
Was that indeed a big blunder by the establishment machine? Or, was a deliberate "leak" by the machine to test reactions?

The next day, Kamala Harris wrote a quite "presidential" tweet, reflecting perfectly her presidential ambitions. As she stated: "We can't have millions of…

Ο Κούλης επιβεβαιώνει πλήρως ότι θα εφαρμόσει νέο, σκληρό μνημόνιο!

globinfo freexchange
Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει ήδη από το 2016 και αμέσως μετά την εκλογή Μητσοτάκη στην ηγεσία της ΝΔ, το αποτέλεσμα των εσωτερικών εκλογών στη γαλάζια παράταξη έλυνε τα χέρια του άξονα Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου. Οι γραφειοφασίστες των Βρυξελλών και το διευθυντήριο του Βερολίνου απέκτησαν μια πρώτης τάξεως εφεδρεία σε περίπτωση που τα πράγματα "στράβωναν" με την κυβέρνηση Τσίπρα.  
Έτσι, ο νέος [τότε] αρχηγός της ΝΔ, Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης, αποτελεί την καλύτερη λύση προκειμένου να εφαρμόσει πιστά τις πιο σκληρές νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές προκειμένου να ολοκληρωθεί το πείραμα με κάθε λεπτομέρεια.
Ήρθε η ώρα να μας επαληθεύσει πλήρως ο ίδιος ο Μητσοτάκης. Όπως αναφέρει ρεπορτάζ του tvxs.gr:
Μνημόνια με τη μορφή κυβερνητικής πολιτικής είναι το οικονομικό σχέδιο του Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη, όπως προκύπτει από τη συνέντευξή του στους Financial Times, με αφορμή τη σύνοδο κορυφής της ΕΕ στις 17-18 Ιουλίου. Ο πρωθυπουργός μάλιστα θεωρεί ότι η πανδημία μπορεί να αποτελέσει…

Powerful signs that Biden will have a tough time to control progressives and their growing influence inside the Democratic party

globinfo freexchange
We wrote recently that, even if Biden wins easily in November, things will never be the same inside his party. It seems that the progressive wave is getting stronger, especially after some big victories of progressive candidates in the recent Democratic Primary. The most impressive of them, is AOC's new victory against a Wall Street puppet. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez achieved an astonishing victory through an unreal percentage (72.6%).
Therefore, Bernie's political revolution is far from over. The progressive army is growing stronger and Biden will have a tough time to deal with the Leftist pressure inside the Democratic party. Maintaining the neoliberal agenda won't be a walk in the park on a sunny day.

We already have strong indications towards that case. As Joe Garofoli reported recently for the San Francisco Chronicle [emphasis added]:
California progressives are not letting up on Joe Biden after he released a clean-energy plan last week that is…

Νέες αποκαλύψεις-σοκ: οι τραπεζίτες άρχισαν να "ροκανίζουν" τα δισεκατομμύρια του "μαξιλαριού"!

globinfo freexchange
Σε μια νέα, απίστευτη καταγγελία προχώρησε ο Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης, στις 13/7 στο τοπικό κανάλι της Κέρκυρας Start TV.  Όπως ανέφερε:
                         Η Eurobank ίδρυσε μια εταιρία "σφραγίδα" - τώρα, αυτή τη βδομάδα -  στην οποία περνάει κόκκινα δάνειά της. [...] Την εισάγουν στο χρηματιστήριο - τώρα, οσονούπω - και τις μετοχές θα τις δώσουν ως μέρισμα στους μετόχους της Eurobank. Θα μου πείτε: τι αξία θα έχει αυτή η μετοχή; Ναι, αλλά εδώ έρχονται τα 12 δισεκατομμύρια, τις εγγυήσεις που θα δώσουν τα παιδιά σας και τα εγγόνια σας, γιατί εκείνοι θα επωμιστούν αυτά τα 12 δισ. από τον ESM, για να έχουν κέρδη οι μέτοχοι της Eurobank που δημιούργησαν μια εταιρία "σφραγίδα"! Αυτά τα πράγματα ούτε οι εγκληματίες της Lehman Brothers δεν τα κάνανε, το 2007!

Όπως είχαμε γράψει ήδη από τον Απρίλιο,  τον Δεκέμβριο του 2019, η κυβέρνηση Μητσοτάκη πέρασε ένα σχέδιο νόμου με την κωδική ονομασία "Ηρακλής", με στόχο να μειώσει το άνοιγμα των τραπεζ…

Trump tells Florida crowd “something will happen in Venezuela” soon

“Something will happen with Venezuela. That’s all I can tell you,” Trump said, before not-so-cryptically  adding that Washington would be “very much involved.”
by Alan Macleod
On a trip to COVID-19 riddled Florida this weekend, President Donald Trump not-so-cryptically revealed that he had something big planned for Venezuela during a meeting with leaders of the U.S. military’s Southern Command. “Something will happen with Venezuela. That’s all I can tell you,” he said, before adding that Washington would be “very much involved” in what he was referencing.
On Trump’s orders, Southern Command moved large numbers of forces to the region, ostensibly to conduct a counter-narcotics operation against Venezuela, which the U.S. has described as a “narco state,” with the DEA offering a $15 million bounty for President Maduro’s head. This, despite the fact the U.S. government’s own reports on drug smuggling barely even mention Venezuela and official summaries show that U.S.-allies Colombia and Ec…

Ο ρόλος της Τουρκίας και του Ερντογάν στην κούρσα των Δυτικών αποικιοκρατών για τον ορυκτό πλούτο της Λιβύης

του system failure
Κλιμακώνεται επικίνδυνα η ένταση στην Ανατολική Μεσόγειο, λόγω κυρίως της επεκτατικής πολιτικής της Τουρκίας και της ενεργού ανάμιξής της στο Λιβυκό χάος.
Αλλά παρόλο που η κατάσταση παραμένει πράγματι χαοτική στη Λιβύη, λόγω κυρίως των επεμβάσεων των αποικιοκρατών της Δύσης, οι οποίοι πρώτοι άνοιξαν τον ασκό του Αιόλου (και από αυτούς πρώτοι οι Γάλλοι), φαίνεται ότι το γεωπολιτικό τοπίο αρχίζει, σιγά-σιγά, να ξεκαθαρίζει. 
Όπως είχαμε αποκαλύψει ήδη από το 2016, μια επιστολή από το αρχείο της ηλεκτρονικής αλληλογραφίας της Χίλαρι Κλίντον, που δημοσίευσαν τα WikiLeaks, αποδείκνυε ότι είχε ξεκινήσει μια σκληρή κούρσα ανταγωνισμού μεταξύ των Δυτικών αποικιοκρατικών δυνάμεων πάνω από την Λιβύη. 
Όπως είχαμε αναφέρει, ο τίτλος και οι λεπτομέρειες των πληροφοριών που περιέχονται στην επιστολή, προδίδουν μια έντονη δυσαρέσκεια από πλευράς Αμερικανών για το γεγονός ότι οι Γαλλικές εταιρίες έκοψαν πρώτες το νήμα στην κούρσα για το Λιβυκό πτώμα.
Υπενθυμίζεται ότι, στη συγκεκ…

How a US and Qatari regime change deception produced ‘Caesar’ sanctions driving Syria towards famine

Like the mysterious figure it is named for, the Caesar sanctions bill is the product of an elaborate deception by shadowy US- and Gulf-backed operatives. Instead of protecting Syrian civilians, the unilateral measures are driving them towards hunger and death.
by Max Blumenthal
Part 7 - 46% of the Caesar file reveals mass killings – by a brutal armed opposition
Though the full contents of the supposed Caesar file has never been made public, Human Rights Watch (HRW) was able to view the documents in full in 2015. In a lengthy report hyping the photos and attempting to reinforce the push for regime change, HRW inadvertently demolished Washington’s narrative.

In a virtual footnote in its lengthy report on the Caesar file, HRW acknowledged that nearly half of the entire file – some 24,568 photos – depicted the bodies of government soldiers who had been killed by the armed opposition, “including [by] incidents of terrorism, fires, explosions and car bombs).

As Rick Sterling noted, “nearly …

Firm linked to HHS’ Robert Kadlec poised to become exclusive manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines

A pharmaceutical firm with a dark history and questionable ties to serving ASPR Robert Kadlec is poised to become the exclusive manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccines now being funded through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.
by Raul Diego 
Part 3 - The Money Trail
As usual, following the money usually takes us to the center of the real action. In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, Emergent’s “go-to” status is borne out by this tried and true method, and when we survey the agreements already in place with the companies most likely to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The value of Johnson & Johnson’s contract with Emergent Biosolutions, for instance, matches up almost exactly with the $456 million grant it received from the Trump administration; Emergent’s five-year manufacturing agreement with the American multinational is worth approximately $480 million.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, which also received considerable funding from Operation Warp Speed, likewise reached an $8…

After Trump deploys secret police in Portland, 'imagine what happens if he gets four more years'

"They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country."
by Jake Johnson
Video footage and first-hand accounts of unidentified federal law enforcement officials snatching up Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon and throwing them into unmarked vehicles drew nationwide attention and outrage Friday, with members of Congress, human rights groups, and journalists accusing the Trump administration of deploying "secret police" to crush dissent.
"Unmarked federal agents in combat gear are pulling protesters off the street and jailing them without charge," tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "That is what a police state is all about. Now is the time to defend our Constitution. Now is the time to come together and defeat Trump's authoritarian policies."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called the conduct of federal law enforcement "outrageous" and said the Trump administration "should …

The east-bound wind causes a storm in the West: Iran-China sign long-term trade agreement

by Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
A few months after the publication of his remarkable book, Adam Smith in Beijing, I had an illuminating conversation with Giovanni Arrighi about the significance of China in world history. The late sociologist was interested in knowing more about the subject of my scholarship–modern Iran and the Iranian revolution. When he saw my puzzled face, he told me that he believes that all this apprehension in the west about Iran, is actually rooted in apprehension about China. 
Arrighi thought that if there were any “mainstream” of world history, it ought to be located in the story of China, the only civilization that has shaped the world as a hegemon over many millennia with the exception of the last 250 years. The rise of the West, according to him is an aberration and China will define the future of the world history. 
For China to play that role, it needs sources of energy to feed its expanding economy and a firm foothold in the world trade network. And there is …