Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Believe I could get a Conviction

Today we live in a society where media defines and creates culture. That’s why I call it a media culture. In fact, the two are indistinguishable from each other. It’s impossible to determine where media ends or culture begins. And what proof can I offer to you of its existence and impact? I believe I could get a conviction in any court of law through direct and circumstantial evidence wherein I’m convinced no one could possibly have reasonable doubt to the existence of a media culture and its impact on our society. Here are my ten arguments.

1. We are defined by what we own and not by our character. You may not be a fan of Jimmy Carter or his politics, but Carter made a profound statement in the late 1970s wherein he said we are defined by what we own and not by what we do. The truth is in our society today character doesn’t matter. We are defined by the house we live in, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the schools and colleges we send our kids to and the church we attend.

The question is who are we as a people? Have we lost our identity to the things we own? How we acted and how we treated people used to define us as a person. It seems that character has become an obstacle to our success and the ability to achieve. Is it possible that our media culture has helped us to embrace this view.

2. All media has become some form of marketing. Today every aspect of our life is lived in the “marketplace”. There is no space that exists between our lives and marketing, advertising, and branding. It surrounds and engulfs us. Everything within our society has been commercialized. How do we make money? That’s the first question that’s often asked in practically everything we do. The “marketplace” concept helps to explain why every sports arena or stadium now has a corporate sponsor tied to the name of the facility.

3. Consumerism is king. Has there ever been a society that has embraced consumerism as we have here in America? In fact, we have invented it. Our big-box stores are full of merchandise beckoning to be bought. But do we really need all of the “stuff”? We are encouraged to spend, spend, spend. After the tragedy of 9/11, President George W. Bush encouraged the American people to do their patriotic duty by “going shopping”.

Our economy would collapse without maximum spending by the American public. We have built a society based on consumerism. We have boxed ourselves in. We are not encouraged to save but to spend. Only a media culture could convince us to accept this idea.

4. Runaway debt. Not only are we encouraged to spend, but we are equally encouraged to charge, charge, charge. They make it easy. Swipe that card. Individual credit card debt is out of control in our society. We hear so much criticism of our politicians who have run up record-breaking deficits. But, in reality, we have all engaged in the same practice. Congress is no different than the general American public. We want everything. And if we can’t afford it, we just put it on credit. The media culture has helped form a narrative that has made this practice acceptable and convenient.

5. The redefining of the American Dream. For decades we have debated about the origin and the definition of the American Dream. For many the American Dream is about family, home ownership, justice, freedom/security and fair play. But many argue that today the American Dream is more about wealth, power, materialism and consumerism. Today we believe in a “bigger is better” concept. I’m convinced that today’s media culture manipulates images from the traditional American Dream to create a new mythology that supports and reinforces a new American Dream, which is “You deserve to have it all”. Or in other words, it is my right as a human being.

Therefore, the American Dream must always be expanded. It’s not enough to own two cars. Now each member of the family must have a care. There’s no stopping this expansionist view even if it’s detrimental to the development of our society. Those who argue against this concept or believe that we should live within our means or perhaps live with less are branded with severe criticism.

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