We sat there watching like we were a part of another world, in another galaxy. I’ve always sensed from reading various websites that American mainstream news is far-removed from reality — I just didn’t realize how far. Everything is so tame and simplified. Everyone is so sincere.
What’s more, I don’t understand the American fascination with reality shows like Survivor, The Bachelor, Faking It, The Contender … it’s endless. Is life so boring that people need to watch the conjured up lives of others? ~Riverbend, Alternet.org
For some time I have been aware of the uniformity of the American media, but only recently have the traits Riverbend mentioned been so clear. The tameness, indeed bloodlessness, of most American news broadcasts helps explain, in part, the obsession with “reality” television (the more outrageous the better), as well as the interest in the screaming, bloodlust-filled ranting of cable television pundits and talk radio hosts. To answer Riverbend’s question, it isn’t that life here is so boring, but that there are so many people who are afflicted with spiritual boredom because they have become numb to the real world. This is in no small part because the real world is delivered to them in crisp, little packages of emptiness. One might say that this intellectually vacuous, spiritually dead view of life is the heart of the mentalite of the American empire. War, domination, torture all become in some way more readily acceptable because they are all mediated through the bland, lifeless news, and our new colony will receive this same disconnected, alienated view of the world as the empire’s gift.
The real events of the world are mediated and sanitised for the American audience so much that they are starved of any sense of reality, and the fake dispassion with which that news is reported starves the public of their need for rhetoric, however crass or debased that rhetoric might be. Think of it as people who want to learn church history and theology and have as their only options the writings of Harnack on the one hand and The DaVinci Code and Left Behind on the other. Not only do they end up being badly informed, leading them to draw ridiculous conclusions about any number of things, but their minds are consequently quite unbalanced on account of the entirely lopsided and absurd view of their sources.