We Have the Circus, Now Where's the Bread?
Uncle Bill Warner
in Roman times when the emperor Augustus was busy buying off the
population with his bread and circuses act while grabbing more and
more power, a satirist called Juvenal wrote about how
the system worked. The term panem et circenses referred
to free distribution of food and opulent, often brutal spectacles.
According to Juvenal, the people lost the capacity to govern themselves
due to this addiction.
Somehow, this concept of bread and circuses popped
into my mind just after a part of a young celebritys anatomy
popped out to public scrutiny at halftime at the Superbowl. Spectacle
upon spectacle. Violence on the field, forbidden sights, beer ads,
the Emperor Augustus would be really jealous today. But the Superbowl
is only part of the pandering to the masses to keep them distracted.
Two days after the event, the TV repeats and repeats,
discusses, analyses ad nauseum this publicity-stunt, people write
letters to CBS and their local papers, call in to talk shows, discuss
it with their barbers. Janet Jacksons mammary display has
put little things like the Presidents charade of appointing
the independent commission to investigate himself right
off the front page. When the public should be taking a closer look
at the HUGE budget deficit, they are watching the other Jackson,
Michael. Funny, there always seems to be something happening about
the time congress is sneaking through some questionable legislation.
Remember the Gary Condit affair, where one of his
aides disappeared? The media beat that story to death, giving rise
to the new term conditization. The public has become
so used to infotainment, that few people who do not assiduously
seek out the important news on the Internet really know whats
going on. And the government likes it that way.
How many people watch disgusting spectacles like
people eating bugs, watching freak-show afternoon TV, and hearing
elected officials scream weapons of mass destruction
and nuclear threat conveniently diverting attention
from huge scandals having to do with corporate influence buying
and corruption going up to the highest places in Washington?
The media are not in the business of providing a
service in the interest of the general welfare. They are in the
circus business. They exist to deliver you, the consumer, to corporate
sponsors, and will go to any lengths to do this. Now stop and consider
this...who do you think owns these media? Im sure youve
heard of CBS and NBC? I remember back during the First Gulf War
how they beat the drums for war with a passion. How many people
even knew or cared that these networks were owned by GE and Westinghouse,
two of our largest arms makers? We enjoyed watching our troops in
action defeating those miserable Iraqis. The larger viewing audience
they delivered to their sponsors, the more money they made, not
to mention the spin off for their war manufacturing businesses.
Infotainment PLUS special interest!
One of the biggest laughs I have had in a long time
was seeing the bumper sticker. I dont believe the liberal
media. Give me a break! Think about it. Do you really believe
that the rich corporate-owned sponsored media is going
to be Fair and Balanced or liberal/progressive?
Even National Public Radio and PBS are not free to tell it like
it is. When corporate criminals like Archer Daniels Midland can
underwrite the McNeill Lehrer News Hour, you
are not going to hear much about ADM being fined that 100 million
dollars! Unabashedly right-wing outlets like Fox News pretend they
are offering both sides of issues when they have a far-right
view and a centrist view (calling that liberal). Real left wing
spokesmen are either ignored, given almost no time, or shouted down.
Is the function of the media in a democracy to give ALL points of
view in the public interest?
There are, however some liberal/progressive media
out there that are not in the business of delivering you to a sponsor,
but are actually there to inform and not entertain. These media
are open about their point of view, and believe that they are necessary
to counter the pervasive misuse of the public airwaves which presently
exists. The Pacifica network,
via KPFA and KFCF
(88.1 FM here in the Central Valley), Mother
Jones Magazine, The Nation,
The Progressive, Community
Alliance Magazine (Fresno), World
Link TV, and Internet sites like Truthout.org,
MoveOn.org, and TrueMajority.org
such ARE liberal media, and are not in the circus business as are
FOX, CNN, CBS, etc. Are you willing to spend a little time checking
out what alternative voices are saying?
About 60% of the American public get most of their
news from right wing TV and radio. Assuming they vote on the basis
of their knowledge, this is a serious matter. After
all the exposure (pun intended) Ms. Jackson has gotten from her
stunt on TV, she could probably run for public office and win.
Circuses can only go so far in diverting the publics
attention, however. A hungry feeling in the stomach is not easily
ignored. The corporate media can only entertain you so much. When
the bread starts to be in short supply, people may start getting
interested in the way things really work. If you are one of the
40 million people in the U.S. without health care, no amount of
media tomfoolery is going to distract you when one of your kids
gets sick. No football game is going to divert your attention from
the fact you have just lost your lifes savings in a corporate
rip-off, or your job has been exported to slave labor in some foreign
country where they pay their workers 27 cents an hour. As Lincoln
said, ...you cant fool all of the people all the time.
An administration that takes office with a huge
surplus in the Treasury and runs the country into record-setting
debt and is cutting programs that feed people is soon going to have
the bread issue on its hands. Circuses and slanted news
threaten the health of the Republic. Kick the addiction.
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