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jess's social network:
MASS MEDIA INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY
AKA "How and Why the Media Keeps Us Brainwashed"
By author/artist/non-conformist, Jess C Scott
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I've left the original article below. Some exciting events in November (2012) also got me to "feel better" about things...
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Jess on arts, culture, society, and her resistance towards
commodity production &
Note #1: Part of the Real Love Vs. Romance eBook.
Note #2: Jess means to inform/educate, not insult :)
Twilight Syndrome = Commoditization
DEFINITION OF 'COMMODITY': A commodity is a good for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market (i.e. commodity = something disposable/replaceable).
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Short Version / 3-Point Summary:
1) "Too Much Commercialism = Pollution"
2) Commodization stifles originality and innovation. Commodification serves to keep mass society pacified, which in turn allows the mass media empires to sustain their uninhibited pursuit of the accumulation of more wealth and power (at the expense of art/culture, social cohesion/integration, and the individual's sense of self-identity).
3) The consolidation of media corporations has produced a standardization of the cultural industry. Ever wondered why all recent music sounds the same and all recent movies look the same? When the mixing pot for ideas only goes about 5 companies deep, you don't tend to get much variation (The Vigilant Citizen). 5 companies--Time Warner, VIACOM, Vivendi Universal, Walt Disney, News Corp--own 95% of all the media that we get every day.
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Longer Version / Full Article:
I grew up in Singapore, and attended a mass communications course when I was 17 years old.
I left the course when I turned 18, because I just felt largely disengaged from and uninspired by the coursework.
At the time, I wanted to make a difference (though I wasn't quite sure how!). I've always been instinctively aware of the power of the mass media, and was seeking to have a deeper understanding of how society is influenced by the (ever pervasive, ever commoditized) Mass Media.
Once upon a time, I based my self-worth on financial success (I recently turned 25; I have struggled with the "art versus commercialism" concept since 21 years old, maybe).
I now see how commodity production has completely replaced originality and innovation, with regards to mainstream creative work (books, movies, music, etc.). Everything is driven by the almighty dollar. Money is God, even as mass society continues to espouse values and virtues which its members have been told/encouraged to aspire to (that the ultimate goal in life = "financial success"), but not necessarily subscribe to (can all the money in the world really buy a meaningful existence?).
In our post-modern era, the value of mainstream creative work has mostly been reduced to its value as a commodity. Challenging the status quo (via original/innovative perspectives) is always a bad thing for those in power, because it is a direct threat to the control they wield over people/subordinates/society/etc. By and large, it's less to do with actual skills and (artistic) talent--it's more to do with packaging/image, how well a product plugs into the existing "mainstream media" system, and a certain amount of marketing hype (hype has come to replace meaning).
As an author, I enjoy both the creative and business aspects of writing/publishing. I have always felt society's collective need for fulfillment, and spiritual fulfillment (the type that matters) isn't going to come from materialistic fulfillment. The endless cycle of desiring and acquiring more wealth and more stuff doesn't lead one to develop or attain a sense of self-identity or social integration. People simply end up more shallow and more dissatisfied.
I have nothing against occasional mindless entertainment (everyone needs some escapism/fantasy...), though I do get annoyed with the shallowness which the mass media actively perpetuates (life is more than money, looks/image, "titillation," and formulaic love triangles).
The mass media, instead of having some sense of moral obligation to society due to its PERVASIVE MASS INFLUENCE on society, has absolutely zero moral conscience whatsoever, and is completely motivated by the post-modern religion of consumer capitalism (more info here).
The mass media has a tremendous amount of impact and
influence in shaping the norms and values/goals of mainstream society,
which is why my sentiments are mostly directed
to the mass media, and not mass society. Movies
studios and major book publishers are all owned
by parent companies (which means the power is held by an extremely
small group of people). How is this not a form of mind control on the
masses, when everything that the public can view/consume in the form
of entertainment/infotainment is
As a writer, I like doing meaningful work, and I like keeping society in mind when I do my creative work. Art, to me, is not for self-glorification purposes. True art has substance and quality, which transcends the individual's egotistical needs for validation and acceptance.
It is my aim to engage this sense of fulfillment and inclusion that each person seeks. I do it in different styles and different ways, but I understand how artists and the arts can help cause a true "cultural revolution, [where] the creators of culture resist trends toward despiritualization and commercialization. . .where a rejuvenation of humanitarian values could happen in a ground-up scenario."
As an author/artist, I'm more than happy to do what I can to counter the despiritualizing, ill effects commercialization has imposed (and continues to inflict) upon current generations.
Because I understand that if artists/creative types stop fighting, that'll really be the end, where Big Brother wins.
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Here are some commercialism quotes which reflect/echo some of my sentiments.
"Many modern writers rely on their capacity of shocking and thrilling
people ad nauseam, because they have nothing concrete and valuable
to give to the world. So they [rely] on sensational effects to attract
"Big publishers are more interested in a shallow book with a built-in
audience than a substantial book from an unknown. . .it's better to
turn the focus to the positive and consider the best ways for conscientious
authors to make the very most out of the new trends and available platforms."
"From environmental pollution to spiritual pollution, from artificial
food to artificial joy--these are the side effects of the pursuit of
materialism (a by-product of the American Dream, as we know it). Today,
everything is fair game in the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of
pain and personal responsibility, not to mention the absence of morality
and a wholesome values system."
"The struggle between art and commerce is an ancient one and thank
God there are always a few individuals who refuse to run with the herd.
It's the mavericks and iconoclasts who break new ground and present
us with exciting and original perspectives on this mad, mad, mad, MAD
From the collection of essays by muralist/fine artist, Rip Cronk:
"[It is up to artists to] oppose the despiritualization and commodification of art."
"Do not expect new directions in art until distance is established between artistic production and the commodity requirements of the gallery.
While art is unavoidably connected to class struggle, it remains the responsibility of the artist to expose the underlying injustices of the status quo, and not be gulled by promises of fame, fortune and tenure into producing status symbols for the oligarchy. The artist is certainly capable of producing art that is of interest to both the general audience and the esoteric viewer. Public art can be challenging and evocative without demeaning the public."
Comment posted by: Akira MacKenzie | July 4, 2011 12:36 PM
"The only thing the media gatekeepers are helping are themselves--helping themselves to profits that come from contributing to the stupidity of the consumer. . .The existence of media gatekeepers has done nothing to improve the quality of literature, motion pictures, or television. Everything produced by the Capitalist-run 'Mainstream Media'. . .only serves to make the bourgeois pigs richer and the boobeois knuckle-draggers stupider."
"The majority is hypnotized by the mass media. And this is why quality gets lost."
Tasmanian Autonomous Zone, 4 July 2009
"Capitalist economics have combined with left-wing social values to produce a nihilistic society where people care about little besides money, sex, food, and a mindless evening in front of the idiot box. Is it any wonder that youths form gangs to rob and assault people? The solution lies in placing more emphasis on local communities (and less on centralised government) and, more importantly, in rejecting the plastic 'culture' of this decaying, nihilistic society, and replacing it with something better, something grander and more noble…"
"We're developing a new citizenry. One that will be very selective
about cereals and automobiles, but won't be able to think."
"As we peer up from our popcorn, it is worth remembering that
behind the magic of the movies lurks the darker power of corporate public
"Music can save people, but it can't in the commercial way it
is being used. It's just too much, it's pollution."
"The independent artist might be the last bastion against the
grand, hegemonizing mindset of corporate scum everywhere--one world,
one people, one wallet. Screw them and their mercenary mentalities."
"It is scary when the most popular music is not the most creative,
and that it is all shaped by the label more so than the artist. And
then capitalized by the record companys by hiring copycat artists till
the next meme rolls through the top 40. [So much so] that 'talent discovery'
means finding some chump that can mimic current norms rather than real
originality. There are some recurring fests that some living legends
throw still with some extreme diversity, but it doesn't draw enough
attention to become anything more than a cult occurance or a fringe
clique. The more cookie cut we become through the buying and selling
of these legislators in government the easier and easier we become to
manipulate and keep happy or at least numb to the deletion of our freedoms."
"There's a lot of mediocrity being celebrated, and a lot of wonderful
stuff being ignored or discouraged."
"A rich, fulfilling life cannot be attained by those who are willing
to accept the mediocre. . .the path of least resistance is filled with
the corpses of the mediocre."
"I have nothing against people's dreams, and everything against
mediocrity. Rewarding mediocrity
encourages people to find every possible way to 'make it' except for
actually studying and practicing to become good at what they do. Hey,
why should they study English when a schlob who can't string two sentences
together is making millions? That's what's really dangerous for our
country. And that's precisely what's going on."
"When even B and C list celebs are now writing their own children's
books, there is less and less room for new, untried, but wonderful young
talent. And sometimes less room for old valued midlist authors as well.
. .it is so crowded with celebs hawking their dubious wares."
"XL's focus seemingly continues to intensify; to work with the
most original and inventive artists possible, regardless of genre, and
help them take their music to the widest possible audience--without
compromise. XL Recordings is 100% independent, continuing
a great tradition of non-corporate record label culture."
"At least people are reading. You've no doubt heard that
before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people
"The thing is Americans can only shoulder so much of the blame
for the plummet in reading statistics. The greed and foolishness of
the publishing industry bears the Atlas-sized weight of it. When you
trade quality for scandal, sensationalism, and a quick buck as the major
publishing houses have, why should the people take the blame?"
"The market has become a monster, demanding that we fit its constraints.
As long as we ignore this, the strength of the U.S. economy will continue
to erode. Freedom and equality, those cornerstones of democracy, will
diminish. For now, many working people have unconsciously accepted the
conditions that exist as somehow natural, unaware of how the machine
is constructed and manipulated to favor elites."
on the Rebound [Essays on Art and Culture],
Control Theories and Techniques used by Mass Medias,
Media Influence on Society,
I Don't Read Romance Novels...Anymore,
18 Sept 2011: The above essay is part of Real Love Vs. Romance, a collection of (informal) essays on commercialism's de-spiritualizing effects on society.