This blog will be in part about my own journey. It pains me to admit that I already reverted. I just got back home from seeing a movie. I was tempted. It was supposed to be a really good movie, and it was from a franchise that I’ve followed for a long time. So I made an exception. I wish I hadn’t because it revealed my weakness. All things considered, it was a pretty good movie. It was somewhere between okay and good, but that’s not the point. Hollywood does make good movies, just like drug dealers sell good drugs. No one tells a drug addict not to take drugs because they are of poor quality. The quality is irrelevant. They are dangerous. They scramble your brain. They poison your mind and manipulate your thoughts and get you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, and think things you wouldn’t otherwise think.
The propaganda in this movie was blatant. It was pure, unadulterated, Hollywood propaganda. And everyone in the theater ate it up. Why? Because it was goooooood. A carefully chosen term here, a thoughtfully worded phrase there. A certain casting choice. A plotline. Soma pumped directly into our veins. It feels good, so I’ll think whatever you want me to think.
That’s how I felt afterwards.
I’ll take a time out from my feelings on the movie and on myself for watching it, in order to tell you the name of the movie… Just kidding. I’m not going to tell you. I hope to make this a theme throughout the blog: not telling you which “thing” I’m talking about. I’m sure I’ll make exceptions here and there, on an “as-needed” basis. But on the whole, I don’t intend to specifically call out which movie, TV show, sporting event, album, etc. that I’m talking about. Why? Because that would be contrary to the goal of this blog, which is to diminish the power of pop culture in our lives and our societies.
Whenever a celebrity makes a tweet, there will be plenty of commentators clapping and saying “bravo, how brave to make this tweet.” There will also be plenty of commentators, outraged by the audacity of the celebrity, to call immediate attention to it. “To my noble readers: look how evil this celebrity is for daring to have this opinion.” My philosophy is: Who cares? By denouncing it, we are drawing just as much attention to it as by commending it. Our goal is to make it utterly inconsequential. Why is a celebrity’s opinion any more important than a regular, random person. The denouncer wouldn’t scour the internet, searching for any person who said something disagreeable. So why lend any more credence to a celebrity? The obvious argument is: they have a wider audience; they have more followers; therefore, they should be held accountable for what they say. But it’s kind of a chicken-or-the-egg thing. Their opinions are more important because they have a wider audience, but they have a wider audience because we think their opinions are more important. The goal is to stop following them, stop paying attention. Then they will have less of an audience, and then people will stop commenting on what they say. It has to start somewhere, and where it starts is by refusing to listen.
Similar to the celebrity scenario, when a movie comes out with an obvious purpose of thought manipulation, its detractors are eager to point it out to us. “Don’t go see this movie!” This tactic would have the opposite effect on many people, like parents who tell their kids not to do something. It just makes them want to see for themselves. But even for people who say “whew, thanks for warning me, I’m not going to go see it now,” it misses the point. I’m trying to take it a step further. Don’t go see the movie regardless. Any of them. They differ in quality and in obviousness of their propaganda, but otherwise they are the same – an attempt by our pop culture masters to manipulate our thoughts. We subsidize our own brainwashing.
Back to the movie at hand… In my younger days, I wouldn’t have realized I was being propagandized. Maybe it would have had an effect on me, maybe not. Probably it would have. It’s hard to resist brainwashing when you don’t know it’s being done to you. Now that I’m older, I can see it much more clearly. It was so obvious in today’s movie that I almost walked out of the theater halfway through in disgust. I almost walked out of a pretty good movie. If I had walked out at that point, it would have been mainly due to my disgust at myself for giving in. They already had my money.
If I am awakened enough to realize I’m being manipulated, then can’t I partake and not let it affect me? Perhaps. Just like a drug user can find a safe place to take a hit and be sure not to revert. It’s a dangerous game to play. Better to find something else to do. More than that, by partaking and trying to resist, we are still feeding the beast. We are giving it our time, money and attention, our very lives. This serves to legitimize it and give it power over us. By partaking, we are saying to the beast, “show us what you got, we are listening. We may not agree, but what you have to say is important.” Why are we giving that kind of concession to a monster that only wants to devour us?
I’ll say it again – today, I subsidized my own brainwashing, and the manipulation of my own society.