Withdrawal from Media
The average American spends over 15% of their life watching TV. In the 1950s, commercials accounted for 13% of television. Today the percentage of commercials has jumped to around 33%. This means that, minus being forced to look at internet ads, or listening to radio advertisements, the typical American spends 5% of their entire life being advertised to. Our media is becoming less content, and more a means to sell products. Product placement and more recently, in-game advertising in video games, is becoming the norm. Capital does not even have the decency to let us numb our minds in peace.
Every aspect of media, from entertainment to the reporting of facts, has been co-opted into a tool of domination and division. It is not a coincidence that the same network which shows seemingly left-leaning shows like “The Simpsons” also owns a network which takes a far-right line of ranting about Communist conspiracies and demonizing the “liberal media.” The media and entertainment industry seeks to divide us and make us define ourselves by what music or television we enjoy. Manufactured cultural preferences are being designed to align themselves with manufactured political preferences. Already, people are letting their choices in media define their choices in life…the ultimate victory of consumerism.
Even the fringe of popular culture, what was once a frontier, has become as dead as the shopping centers which line areas once untouched by civilization. “Indie” bands play music for car commercials and movies which are anything but independent. Hipsterism has replaced any form of subculture or counterculture. It has substituted any form of protest against the system with consumerism thinly veiled by irony and obscure music. To those who fancy themselves outside the mainstream, spending half of one’s disposable income in a record store is considered acceptable, as long as they are the right kind of used records in the right dingy store. Hipsterism does not attack the act of buying happiness, it simply picks and chooses what types of happiness are acceptable to buy.
Even those who do not buy their media are still guilty of practicing a warped brand of reformism. Recent trends in activism managed to group around opposing online piracy acts like SOPA and PIPA. With large sites like Craigslist and Wikipedia joining in on the protests, these were arguably the largest movements of online activism the world has yet seen. The fundamental problem with this movement is that it is fighting to protect its right to be entertained by big media. Instead of using online resources to spread media and entertainment not beholden to multi-national corporations, these online protestors would rather complain about not being able to download the latest bootleg of The Daily Show. Withdrawal from media means not only refusing to be identified by our media purchases, but also recognizing that a free or stolen brainwashing is still a brainwashing nonetheless.