Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Cult of Beauty and the Lost Capacity for Empathy

Kirk Nielsen writes: "...Those captivated by the cult of celebrity do not examine voting records or compare verbal claims with written and published facts and reports," [Chris] Hedges writes (in Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle). "The reality of their world is whatever the latest cable news show, political leader, advertiser, or loan officer says is reality.

The illiterate, semiliterate, and those who live as though they are illiterate are effectively cut off from the past. They live in an eternal present. They do not understand the predatory loan deals that drive them into foreclosure and bankruptcy. They cannot decipher the fine print on credit card agreements that plunge them into unmanageable debt. They repeat thought-terminating clich├ęs and slogans. They seek refuge in familiar brands and labels.

... Life is a state of permanent amnesia, a world in search of new forms of escapism and quick, sensual gratification." Of course, they did not get into this clueless state by themselves. They were manipulated by "agents, publicists, marketing departments, promoters, script writers, television and movie producers, advertisers, video technicians, photographers, bodyguards, wardrobe consultants, fitness trainers, pollsters, public announcers, and television news personalities who create the vast stage for illusion," Hedges continues. "They are the puppet masters. ... The techniques of theater have leeched into politics, religion, education, literature, news, commerce, warfare, and crime."

...The book takes readers to Madison Square Garden for an exegesis of professional wrestling; to the Adult Video News Expo in Las Vegas for lengthy interviews with porn actors and producers and an inflatable doll vendor; and to Claremont Graduate University in California for a seminar on positive psychology, which Hedges terms a "quack science" that "is to the corporate state what eugenics was for the Nazis."

As a resident of Miami Beach, where the pornographic sensibility is a way of life, I wasn't shocked to read that annual porn sales in the United States "are estimated at $10 billion or higher" or that DIRECTV distributes "more than 40 million streams of porn into American homes every month." But I shuddered when Hedges documented not just a growing appetite for violent forms of porn in America but their remarkable visual similarity to photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. "Porn reflects the endemic cruelty of our society," he writes.

"The violence, cruelty, and degradation of porn are expressions of a society that has lost the capacity for empathy. ... The Abu Ghraib images that were released, and the hundreds more disturbing images that remain classified, could be stills from porn films." [Source...}

The Beautiful People Syndrome

By Ron Kaufman

I went over a good friend's house and he was watching "The Drew Carey Show" on CBS. Now this has got to be one of the most moronic shows I have ever seen on television. In one scene, the star, Drew, his two male buddies and one female friend were sitting in the kitchen talking. The girl was wearing a low-cut top that also exposed her stomach and an extremely tight miniskirt. I remarked, "This girl is only on this show for her [chest]." My friend was insulted, "No she's not, she's one of Drew's friends. You see, those four people are old friends so they just pal around together."

At that moment, what my friend didn't seem to comprehend, was that TV characters are not real. The images on television may look real, and the people look real, but they are just images. TV characters live in one dimension. TV characters are fictional. Television shows are fictional.

Now, this is not an attempt to insult your intelligence. Of course television isn't real. Everyone knows that. But how much does the world of television effect our daily lives? How much does TV influence your opinion of people? How does TV impact fashion, speech, and social interaction? This is what is meant by The Beautiful People Syndrome: that TV influences the way we view others.

The Beautiful People Syndrome is what happens when you watch too much TV. You begin to believe, or expect, regular people to act, behave, and look like television stars. Does TV imitate life, or does life imitate TV, or does both happen? Television images portray people as beautiful, smart, wealthy, quick-witted, creative, instantly compelling, and exciting. Television wouldn't be worth watching, for those who watch, if it wasn't unbelievably interesting...Continue

--->1981: The Great American Transit Conspiracy...Our national dependency on the automobile has contributed to air pollution, the national trade imbalance, inflation, the deaths of 50,000 Americans annually, disabling injuries to millions more, and billions of dollars annually in lost wages and medical expenses. It also destroyed a mass transit system that was relatively clean, energy efficient, reliable, and low-cost...Cont.

--->Fewer Nukes, But More Money. Why the U.S. is slashing its arsenal but spending billions more on its nuclear-weapons complex...

Note: Simplicity, kindness and realness are beauty enough for a lifetime.

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