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My Brain Is Not Silly Putty

by Michael Goodspeed Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005 at 8:55 AM

The term "paradigm shift" is used with increasing regularity in popular media. It describes a profound and usually irrevocable shift in the way people think. Despite its amazing overuse, I do like the term -- a change in the collective heart and mind is necessary in order for tangible change to occur.

We've all gone through our share of dramatic -- and often TRAUMATIC -- personal "paradigm shifts." Early in life, one's perception is like a slab of silly putty -- it is easily twisted and shaped by the influences of culture, education, religion, and family. Sometimes, the end result is a distorted mass of contradictions and falsehoods. To "shift" one's "paradigm" in the direction of clarity requires conscientiousness, honesty, and unbending courage. Without this diligence, one is doomed to walk through life without the ability to discern the truth.

I've always known that in my home country of the United States, powerful people want to misshape our brains to fit their own purposes. They do this effectively through the "consolidated" media, where the majority of print, radio, and television outlets are owned by a handful of corporations. Indeed, entertainment and "news" media have become barely distinguishable, and they are all equally determined to manipulate your mind.

The "news" media have no devotion to truth -- NONE. If you doubt this, ask yourself, why do cable "news" networks "report" so obsessively on the murders and/or disappearances of gorgeous young women like Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, the "Runaway Bride," etc., etc.?

Answer: Because they know that these stories are good for ratings, and furthermore, they are totally inane and contain no information that will harm advertising revenue. Indeed, this is the motivation behind every "programming" decision that the "news" media make. If you wonder why the major "news" outlets refuse to cover a bona fide scandal like the aspartame controversy (the FDA knew it was poison, and approved it for consumption in the U.S. anyway), count the number of times you see an ad for a major soft drink company during any network broadcast. Sure, millions of Americans may be unwittingly developing brain tumors thanks to their daily servings of diet cola, but hey, these media folk have lifestyles to maintain!

The "news" media need me to care about bulls***, because bulls*** is the only product they're selling. Celebrity gossip, professional sports, hot young babes abducted or killed, and for more "sophisticated" reportage, ideological hacks blathering about the latest Washington power struggles. If you invest a scintilla of thought or energy caring about these inanities, then you are a victim of deliberate manipulation. Your mind has been molded into something ugly and distorted.

The sulfurous undertone of bulls*** that permeates the "news" media is more than equalled in the entertainment industry. Hollywood, pop music, pop fiction books, and TV shows consistently paint a picture of "reality" that offends both common sense and decency. The grubby hands of twisted and misguided people claw viciously at your brain.

Hollywood films are 1% truth and beauty, and 99% unmitigated bulls***. Of course, movies have always "lied": in the heyday of Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope, America -- all white and asexual -- was portrayed like a hideous caricature of a Rockwell painting. But an even worse trend of disingenuousness exists today. Many Hollywood filmmakers -- most notably directors Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Tony Scott -- have made millions by intentionally portraying evil and psychopathic behavior in a romantic light.

Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" flicks feature incredibly likable and urbane protagonists with just one "personality flaw" -- they murder human beings for money or revenge. The violence in these films is cartoonish and apparently intended for titillation and humor. It is ironic that many critics praise Tarantino for his alleged "grittiness" and "authenticity," because in the real world, murderers tend not to be likable or intelligent. A short visit to a maximum security penitentiary might disabuse Tarantino of such an absurd notion. And the real-life consequences of ultra-violence are neither funny nor titillating.

Pop fiction books are even less authentic than Hollywood films. A visit to the bestseller rack of any bookstore is one of the most dispiriting experiences of modern times. A few hackneyed authors -- Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Ken Follet, James Patterson, etc, etc. -- keep churning out the same reliably inane piffle, page after page of inhuman characters spewing stilted dialogue and behaving with no psychological truth. This matters not to John Q. Public, who seeks nothing more from his "literature" than a handy diversion while he's on the toilet.

If it's authenticity you want, don't let your hand go near that FM radio dial. The "consolidated" stations across the U.S. blast nothing but the corporate-approved "music" produced by giant record labels. The majority of the public has always bought music based on what they hear on the radio -- they are trained to believe that if it's GOOD, it will make it onto the air. So it's a vicious cycle where big studios sign crappy bands because they have a "sound" similar to an earlier crappy band that has sold a lot of records. If you think you enjoy crap-rock, it is because you have been programmed to -- those inanely catchy melodies have robbed your brain of its musical taste.

Don't go near the AM dial either. Talk radio once had the potential to be what the internet is -- an independent source of cutting edge information that the corporate and governmental "powers that be" don't want you to know. But any true independence in talk radio was killed by the aforementioned "consolidation" of stations -- with special "thanks" due to right-wing, Bush-supporting Clear Channel! Listeners can choose between a huge variety of "outside the box" thinkers like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura, and Michael Savage -- all of whom "coincidentally" oppose gay rights and regard liberalism as a "mental illness." And if politics isn't your thing, you have 24/7 sports talk ("Raiders suck, dude!!!), and a plethora of enlightening weekend shows with topics ranging from home gardening to car repair.

And of course, the absolute number one purveyor of bulls*** in American media is television. In addition to the aforementioned TV "news", countless sitcoms, crime dramas, and reality TV shows try to misshape our minds with relentless dishonesty. Sitcoms lie with their sheer vapidity and phony brand of formulaic "humor" (don't these idiots know that the truth is always funnier than a caricature?). Crime dramas lie by presenting criminal investigations in a wildly distorted light -- some attorneys even believe this is having an impact on real-life court cases. (The term "CSI Syndrome" refers to jurors who have been trained to expect and demand inarguable physical proof to convict a defendant.) Reality TV shows lie because they send the message that sadism towards one's fellow man is both humorous and socially acceptable (particularly shows like "Scare Tactics," where victims are made to believe that their lives are actually in danger). And the biggest lie of all is the way people LOOK on TV -- they are overwhelmingly slender and incredibly attractive. It is not a coincidence that U.S. citizens lead the world both in hours spent watching TV, and incidence of the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia.

I repeat, powerful people want to mold your mind to fit their self-serving interests. They are salesmen, you see...and the products they are selling are ignorance and egotism. Useless entertainment such as gratuitously violent films, video games, and professional sports thrive in the U.S. because consumers have been programmed to use them as a vicarious means for ego empowerment. The unspoken attitude of many is, "I want badly to be someone, but I know this won't happen in the real world. So I lose myself in the fantasy of entertainment, where I can identify with anyone I want -- a pro athlete, a rock god, or even a serial killer."

The corporate "bottom-liners" who own the media have a VESTED INTEREST in creating collective and individual mental illness. The more contracted and disturbed your mind is, the more product they are going to sell. Just as it's easier to mass-produce junk food than to nurture and grow organic health food, it is easier to sell ignorance and egotism than truth and beauty.

Our culture desperately needs to learn the art of truth-seeking. This art is intuitive as much as it is intellectual. When someone tries to persuade you to a certain viewpoint or "paradigm," ask yourself if their view jibes with what you KNOW to be true based on experience and observation. This is the most important function you will ever have in the world. We all have a duty to ourselves and to society to be personally responsible not just for our actions, but for our THOUGHTS. Yes, we are lied to as a matter of course, and yes, these lies can damage our psyches. But within each of us is the ability to REJECT a lie, no matter how persuasive or appealing. This is done by developing a valid personal identity -- not as a "consumer" or even a "citizen," but a powerfully conscious and independent truth-seeker. Learn the truth of who you are, and you will not have a mind as pliable as silly putty, but a bedrock structure capable of withstanding the most violent of storms.
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