Thursday, January 26, 2017

Commercials Satirizing Commercials

Kissingers winning peace prizes, Americans telling other Americans to check their privilege, Mexicans insulting border walls, game show hosts decrying game shows, and New Yorker cartoonists lampooning mainstream media... Irony, like laughter, seems to be the least ironic thing in this universe. The unfunniness within the bounds of all of these perspectives; the serious, fanatically ignorant nature of the critique; the spiritually cancerous manifestations existing in the event that any of these things have a truthful following: I'm not particularly interested in sounding the basement to verify once again that, yes, the lower level was reached eons ago, and nothing deeper can be found. Rather, this one notes the continued indicia that television and print media are being re-branded into some still-lesser form of mass communication media.

The image citation above is another minute reminder that this transition is not one occurring through the invisible hand of a marketplace, the inevitable press of technology, a generational shift in attitudes, or any other such banality. Rather, the older power structure is itself transitioning to a more effective--which is to say, worse--medium. Like a political party, a corporation, or a government, CNN sets itself up for failure, and covers the condemnation of its own worthlessness, as part of a marketing program to make its successor--ultimately controlled by and benefiting the same forces--seem different. What we will be given in its place will still be CNN, albeit even simpler, blinder, and more powerfully insulated from what we might like to call, wistfully, reality.

As when we lost human contact in exchange for the telegraph, market day in exchange for the professional merchant, and the game board in exchange for the network computer, we will one day regret the loss of the comparative humanity, freedom, depth, and detail offered by the television news. It goes ignobly, indeed, but with it goes another dwindling echo of something we've already forgotten.

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