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vent!

 

Well, it's been a while since I've worn it, but my Cynic hat still fits me.

Today (06/07/1998) I'm reading a book (mistake number one?) about how TV news have progressively thinned out their actual content in favor of commercialization, sensationalism, or just plain stupidity.

Three of my favorite topics, believe me.

It's this kind of books that always makes me think -- the hyped anti-hype book. Sort of like if Elmer Fudd wrote a discourse on the evils of cartoon violence.

(Cartoon viowence is a vewy vewy infewential ewement of an awful wot of cartoons, he'd write, and it can be vewy detwimental to our childwen's devowpment).

At least it's not like the books I too often read in my childhood -- the type of book meant to inform AND SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF YOU. I devoured, with an inhuman taste for the paranoid, all of the ghost, UFO and Time-Life Presents The Paranormal books that I could get my hands on.

I was scared to death. I was scared of the dark. I was scared of my basement. I was scared of my hallway. I was scared of the driveway between my neighbor's house and mine.

But I don't regret ever reading a single one of those books (okay, maybe a couple, but they all had the same stuff in them, usually down to the same pictures even).

Why? Because I think I'm smarter because of it.

Too many people generalize. Far too many more get all of their contact with the world from television.

Kids too -- they hook 'em with sap and sugar (e.g. Barney) until they savor the sleaze and filth of "grownup" television.

It's not called the idiot box for nothing.

Back to the book I'm reading, though -- it's by one of those aging hippies/activists who always marched and stuff like that to raise awareness.

Their influence pervades the activism of today -- "raising awareness". Everyone's on the lookout for "awareness" about some issue or another.

Now think about that for a moment.

Awareness -- that's knowing about something, isn't it? I'm "aware" of a lot of things: world peace, cold fusion, a cure for AIDS, workable communism, free health care.

My point?

Fuck awareness. Just because I know something doesn't mean I'll do anything about it.

Look at all those colored ribbon campaigns going on. It's almost as though the organizers think that a piece of fabric and a pin will save the world.

Don't get me wrong -- it can't hurt it any either.

But if all we do is promote awareness, when will we get anything done?

However, since I'm constantly revamping my opinions, I've realized something.

Getting awareness is getting a lot.

I sometimes forget we live in the Information Society (i.e. the couch potato patch). Any opinion on its way to activism must first be "informed" to us. Then we can sit around and think that somebody's doing something about it, and feel better about ourselves.

Woo hoo, isn't awareness fun?

I'd like to think I'm aware in general, not having to target my awareness at specific topics depending on what color sash I'm sporting. Maybe I've got more than some people do, but somehow I think that awareness is an absolute state.

In other words, either you're aware or you aren't.

Told you I shouldn't read books like this.I had another revelation today. I became aware of something so completely and totally obvious that I'd never realized it before: I knew why MTV stopped playing music videos.

Because it had started playing commercials.

It's a lot harder to break up a bunch of music videos into segments that can be separated by those money-making commercials.

I guess all of the other MTV networks weren't making enough dough (Or maybe the reverse -- maybe those Nickelodeon Magazine infomercials were so incredibly lucrative that every network sold out), but whatever the reason, MTV started showing programming so it didn't have to (deal with breaking up the videos with commercials).

Duh.

You know, I should've thought of that sooner.

But think -- what would be better in today's attention-deficit-disordered society -- short, fast-paced, loud music videos interspersed with short, fast paced, loud commercials? They could even put the sponsor's name in the lower left to make the illusion more real -- or a bunch more of those damn "reality"-warmed-over-and-edited-for-content-and-produced shows typical of what they're showing now?

Except Daria. I like that show.