September 28, 2016
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is a long held maxim in journalism. The concept being that the more effectively you can terrify a person, the more readers, listeners, and viewers you will have, and correspondingly the more you can charge for advertising. Media, for decades, has, in many ways, been a race to the bottom, a search for the absolute lowest in society.
Suicides are heavily reported on, the gorier the better, despite a nearly undeniable copycat effect. Violent crimes are heavily covered, as well as acts of terror, both of which produce the same copycat effect. Programmers, after all, don’t exist with the benefit of the individual viewer in mind. They exist with detail to ratings and ad revenue.
Decades of the boob tube and it’s surrogates spewed on a smart, though relatively uneducated American public, has turned many into boobs. Many more of us than ever before end up graduating from high school. Many more of us end up in college. Many more of us end up with advanced degrees. Yet we are more lacking in common sense, empathy, and human connection than ever.
Horrible progressive nonsense is thrown at us day and night with every media titan’s agenda mixed in. We are told subtly that the Constitution is the enemy, capitalism is the enemy, traditional values are the enemy.
At the end of the day we are left with the average American acting as either a boob -absorbing much of it, or as a reactionary -disputing much of it. Both positions are prone to be equally unthinking.
The birth of Fox News was a reaction. It was a poor excuse for a reaction in that it became much of the same low-brow crap. The 2010 Tea Party was a reaction. To a large extent Obama 2008 was the same kind of reaction, as was Occupy – Americans wanted change. Black Lives Matter comes from the same place. Reactionary positions are seldom where an individual would naturally end up if life offered the individual a vacuum in which to temporarily exist and think. Reactions can be entirely unpredictable, violent, and seemingly uncalled for when viewed with hindsight. Reactions are, nonetheless, a natural part of human existence.
In any era, the stronger the powers-that-be hold on, and the more extreme their level of influence, the more violent the reaction to them will be as society lets off steam. Karl Marx, an instructive voice to many delusional people in positions of influence today, whether through Marxism itself, or through screwy neo-Keynesian, neo-liberal, and neo-conservative waterings down of Marx, held the mistaken theoretical belief that societal trends move in one direction. In reality, society shifts back and forth.
Donald Trump is the latest movement in society. He is popular among some Republicans, and even large swaths of Democrats are polling the man favorably. Bernie Sanders is a similar nativist reactionary. Both men espouse the increased presence of government in our lives, but with a renewed take on what common sense will be used to dictate the actions of government. Coming from an extreme smaller government view, I do not agree with some of their fundamental philosophical assumptions about government’s roll in the world. Having learned to obediently pull his punches, Bernie Sanders is likely to be a passing fad. Donald Trump appears to be the gorilla in the room that will affect the status quo. Some less than thoughtful ignoramus will read this and call me a Trump supporter because I’ve mentioned his name in a headline or not spent ink denouncing him as the greatest evil man has ever seen.
It is farcical to see journalists and politicos denounce Trump en masse, as if they are the only ones with the right to behave in extreme ways, as if there is some magic line that must not be crossed. In terms of deceit, in terms of extreme indecency, in terms of cultural attacks, in terms of the most ninnyish political beliefs and behavior, the media and their counterparts in the political class seem to have no boundaries. In that kind of environment, what right do any of them have to suddenly say the game has gone too far?
They are counter-reactionaries. Counter-reactionaries are crybabies who suddenly realize they don’t have the influence to bully others. Counter-reactionaries should be laughed at in every era, because they likely pushed society too far when they held roles of responsibility and should just be happy not to have seen a guillotine.
Art follows life. When it doesn’t, there is something wrong in a society. Politics follows life. Trump has not led the polls for months by being something America doesn’t want. Trump is following life. He has this moment in the limelight precisely because he is saying what people have long thought and have perhaps even been long saying at home.
Some of it is uncomfortable to me. Some of it may be uncomfortable to the establishment media and political elite. To those who are surprised I can only say, you never really knew your own country. Welcome to the American dinner table and the sound of its voice on the national stage as it speaks its mind reactionarily.
Dear media elite, dear political elite, you helped bring us to this moment in history. Now what are you going to do about it? If the answer is fight harder to ensure compliance and silence from the American public, that’s probably the wrong answer, because in response to greater repression, it is not impossible to imagine a much more reactionary America. Let the American dinner table have its moment and if future generations ever look back in shock, be ready to apologize for the role you caused in making that moment happen.
Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.