All Hail the Media Machine!

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The vitriol runs deep. The carnage is relished over like to many unlucky pedestrians of Carmageddon II. There is no shortage of name-calling, reveling in other people’s misery and treachery.

It is the modern political talk show.

While the rest of the country’s faux paux intellectuals are wringing their hands (along with the hyperactive media) over our culture of violence, they are quite easily forgetting where some of the worst aspects of human behavior are living: on cable television. There’s a quaint notion running rampant throughout the country that Hollywood movies and video games are the standard bearers of What is Wrong With Our Society. To use of the media’s overused words, there is a disconnect between folks who somehow find the violence and gore of Quake or Doom to be worse than the hatred everyone with cable TV witnessed during 1998s all out Get Clinton Marathon.

During that banner year, anyone with a mouth showed up on MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News and more to call the President every name in the book. Despicable behavior (such as Linda Tripp’s infamous tape recordings, done at the behest of a scurrilous New York yenta who just hates Clinton) was easily rewarded with a seat on some polished talk show set. Sanctimonious windbag after sanctimonious windbag acted as though they had been personally stabbed in the heart (Salon best described it as a “rubber chicken crank moral circuit.”) William Bennett, in his never-ending quest to be a late 20th century Diogenes, bemoaned the lack of outrage on behalf of the American’s seeming indifference to Clinton’s peccadilloes.

Yet somehow, this hatred, that allowed a then-four year investigation into someone’s private life to go on, is less effective than a violent video game. Somehow, movies with explosions and karate chops in full digital stereo sound is more damaging to the psyche than the levels of cultivated hatred against Clinton. Bear in mind, this is no apologia for the President. Rather, this is to point out the blatant hypocrisy of the media and every pundit within hearing distance.

One can only be amazed the inherent dumbness that is the media when acts of violence grab their attention, and reporters swoop down on the scene interviewing as many grieving and injured they can and dare to ask, “How could it happen here?” The usual culprits are trotted out: movies, the Internet, video games, rock music, etc. And not one of these air-headed journalists steps back sees the connection between verbally excoriating people and blowing away enemies on a computer screen. The entire genre of infotainment and exploitation cheapens the quality of human life like so many ratings points, but somehow, people learn to hate and want to kill only because a video game instilled the desire. With so many political talk shows out there espousing such ugliness at other people, why should music and the Internet be the only factors that make people kill? Is it because teenagers don’t watch these talk shows, or don’t hide behind $50 phrases like “constitutional duty”?

You inundate a culture with hatred through various ways. You demean human life through as many venues as possible, but in the end, only choice targets deserve the blame. Which means the false analysis will continue again and again.