Since Orwell’s 1984, politics and it’s talking heads (and I don’t mean the defunct 80’s one-hit wonder) have long been labeled “big brother”. Especially in today’s atmosphere of vastly opposing political opinions where so much attention is fixed on big brother’s every tic and twitch, very little attention is paid to his momma. The media has become such an all-encompassing force in our daily retinue, indeed into the very fiber of our lives that it’s treated like just another mundane phenomenon, very much like the weather or the outcome of a rumor about your neighbors; in other words information is received, and barely digested before being tossed aside. The media is not criticized with the refined and fabrication-sensitive tools required when dealing with such a powerful and influential entity. Not that thinking men and women aren’t constantly in search of outside perspectives; when their schedules allow that is. Let’s be honest, most of the time individuals are far too rapped-up in their pursuit of financial superiority and emotional fulfillment, as well they should, to see the media for the social, political and financial vacuum that it is. Whatever happened to personal opinion and social perspective? (Without being labeled the often smirk-and-pity-inducing catchphrase of “liberal”. To considering information for yourself and filtering it through your own personal beliefs and morals allowing for a critical digestion and magnified inspection of the barrage of opinions bombarding our already over-burdened consciousness?
Let’s first understand the meaning of the word itself, as the successful solution to any riddle lies in its basic definition and fundamental rules. The dictionary occupying my frazzled desk describes the media as “the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely”. Media is a word that stems from the root word “medium”, intended to describe the go-between, or method of relating information from one point to another by using a “medium” such as newspaper, radio or television etc. Tuning into CNN or FOX NEWS is enough proof that this is no longer the case, as these largest of news media entities do not simply act as a venue for information but go one step further by producing the product they are selling, rather than just relating it which is what most people still believe their “news” is doing. Were always hearing the famous tagline of “absolute power, corrupts absolutely” when speaking of big brother, but not unlike the power of representative rule the power of representative influence is just as easily corrupting and corruptible. News media behemoths such as these are divisions of much more significant corporate entities like AOL/Time Warner, and News CORP. to names a few. Corporations do business and if we consider what Etiquette of The Banker (circa. 1778) tells us, “First rule of business, protect your investment” the primary objective of these organizations is to make money, not cater to an information hungry public with straight and truthful news.
As a few weeks of living in the world can reveal, money and the truth have a way of conflicting. Consider this hypothetical situation involving the fictional station of ABN (The Always Broadcasting Network): ABN’s mammoth bureaucratic infrastructure of divisions, and district offices not to mention financial entities and economic vacuums, all the things that keep a growing corporation healthy and happy, is having a difficult year in meeting it’s inflated operating budget and needs the account of fictional corporate sponsor All-Mart. All-Mart is looking to branch-out its foreign operations in third-world countries as part of its globalization strategy, but one of the countries on its (for lack of a better word) hit-list, is currently at war with the home country of ABN. Now, if an All-Mart rep. kindly asks an ABN official to tone-down the severity of its war broadcast in an effort to prevent jittery All-Mart globalization-strategy investors from fleeing in panic at the thought of entering a blood-bath, will that ABN rep. pound the desk in an incredulous display of moral taken-abackness, and tell the All-Mart official to get his sticky fingers out of his office or simply look into what could be done about the difficulty his business partner is experiencing? Who’s to say really? But it’s a sure bet that individuals as well as corporations can often feel a debt of gratitude, if not loyalty, to their source(s) of income and when any entity that owes large degrees of responsibility to the public is faced between continuing to fulfill that responsibility or continuing the pursuit of its own existence, longevity must play more of a key role in corporate mandates and over-all strategy. It is a brutal reality and fundamental law of any living organism to feel the need to protect its own existence above all things.
Let’s shift our attention away from ABN’s moral dilemma (morality and finance do often make for much confusion and consideration, a tough one really) and look to other forms of media. The modern phenomenon of “convenience” through electronic gadgetry such as mp3’s, they’re players, PDAs, Blackberrys, portable DVDs, laptops, cellphones etc. and the message-driven media they transmit, receive, download, upload, and file-share such as music, films, T.V. shows and radio broadcasts. “Techmology”, as ALI G so aptly coined it, opens opportunities for obviously un-precedent amounts of communication and as Big Mother’s various mediums tell us how to dress, what to drive, where to work, how to think, what to eat, where to vacation and who to befriend and date (yes, who you go out with can easily be broken down into a series of magazine adds and far-fetched sociological “studies”) one cant help but feel a little Punk’d. Big mother is a demanding and controlling parent with many un-realistic expectations and few rewards. Big mother doesn’t mean to abuse you, but continues to do so mentally by ignoring your personal needs, despite how much she cares. In the global village of the age of information the chief hut belongs to Big Momma and no one is safe from her influence, let alone her disregarding demands. Truesay.
No matter the situation it’s clear that the media as a whole will not be going anywhere soon, as even Medea, Euripides’ child-slaying mother, said, “I am the mother of your children. Whither can I fly, since all Greece hates the barbarian?”. Before you tune-out, as years of servile acquiescence have worn your attention span to a small un-gripping nub, consider this. Medea slew her own children in a fit of rage; does not the media slay our individuality and personal beliefs, not to mention our thought-processes a little everyday? She is constantly and eternally present: scolding our failures, guilting us into submission, reminding us of our weaknesses, displaying her power and glamour, and very rarely rewarding the chosen amongst us by including them as part of the family (the lucky ones who land the much sought-after jobs in radio, music, advertising, marketing, film and television). Surely its easy to see the media as a demanding, judgmental, often insincere, tyrannical, insensitive, controlling, and self-righteous mother that often claims and purports to have our best interests at heart but looses sight of just that.
Rest assured that there is hope, as any orphaned and abused child can support, when one comes from a house-hold of poor parentage a solution is attainable. Be your own mother by planting the seeds of self-parenting, watering them than watching them grow into bountiful plants of self-satisfaction. Sounds like a daily affirmation, but is a plausible solution for combating the onslaught of conventionalism and anti-conventionalism (which has become a common mind-set).You can do this by objectively observing the demands of your life and personally meeting those demands. For example, instead of letting Big Mother tell you who to date, look at your situation and genuinely deduce the qualities you wish your life companion to have. Release yourself from the stigma of, and reliance on, self-description and self-definition from outside sources by controlling your own mind-set. Has it not been said that you can either command yourself or be commanded by others? Educate yourself by reading books, magazines, and newspapers, listening to music, watching films and taking from them what benefits you. Not what should benefit you. If life is a quick roller-coaster ride, do we wish to hang on to the safety bar, hunched-over in fear while watching the person next to us raise their hands in the air, screaming in exhilaration and excitement when your deepest instincts tell you to do just the same?
Big Brother is always watching while Big Mother is always instructing and they will continue to do so ’till the last episode of the Simpsons aka eternity, but we will not be there to see that day. Let us just enjoy the ride while it lasts the way we feel we need to and ignore the naggings of a Mother that does not understand what it is like to be us. As anyone can tell us about parenting, it is the wisest children that take the good of their parents and throw out the bad. Smart kids.