Saturday, December 28, 2002

Dystopia Now!

Somewhere in the eighties and nineties, whenever a director/writer wanted to paint a dystopian media future, they'd show impoverished populations watching crazy fascist newscast, interspersed with creepy gameshows offering the way out for a very lucky few. Whether it was Orwell's 1984 -- that only did the fascist newscast -- or Running Man, Robocop, Max Headroom, Starship Troopers, etc. (Ok, so Paul Verhoeven's very big on this. He thought it was funny, hysterical, on the edge, a parody.)

Last week I come down to the gym and Fox News's big screen caption is "WHY WE ARE STRONGER" and there is this blond bimbo announcer basically reading military bomb tech of a list, stumbling over the names, and after every item she looks up and goes "So this is better than what we had, right?" and some real enlisted active start-powered military guy would talk about how, well, yes, this new bomb/plane is smarter and five times more stealthy than what we had in, what he called, I kid you not, Desert Storm One.

This wasn't news. This Was Not News. This was propaganda, war-mongering, populace-management. "WHY WE ARE STONGER"

Interspersed with this were endless clips of how one guy Had Made It Out by winning millions upon millions of dollars, why, it was miracle. He was elevated, achieved, rich. Next item: how unemployment benefits will simply stop, just stop, next week, for many recently unemployed, just stop, and Our President implored Congress to get it together now that everyone's in recess and he himself had forgotten to care and implore when it still mattered a couple of months ago. Switch channel, there's Our Lucky Winner who made it out again, while in my head I know the latest data about how the salaries in this country are stratifying into a large group that has not seen wealth effectively go up since, oh, what, 1976? and a big minority like me technoyuppiepimps who are comfortable and a tiny minority of the super-rich who have such a horrible, horrible tax burden as we are told, that it must be lowered now or the country will really sink into a recession. No really. Around 35 or so of them ended up in the government this last election. Because they know how people live who have to work two jobs to afford their education hoping to get out, out, out of this place where debt keeps sucking you back in over and over again, this place of never having quite enough to be able to sleep at night and not have to worry about the next week without having to numb yourself with a little consumption that will only push yourself down more.

Switch newscast: talking head talking about how the hundreds of "enemy combatants" not in Camp X-Ray are currently being sleep deprived, stressed, mistreated by agents of the US government, or handed over to governments where outright torture is known to be used. Talking head smirks. Smirks.

I have days that I believe I cannot possibly stay here. My mother-in-law was appalled when we announced we were keeping our options to move open, "You have to stay to fight the good fight!"

Honest question: have any of you decided when you are taking to the streets, yet? What your breaking point is? Which newscast makes you double over in horror?

Oceania, 'tis for thee...