From Wikipedia: "The film presents and illustrates Chomsky's and Herman's thesis that corporate media, as profit-driven institutions, tend to serve and further the agendas of the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society. A centerpiece of the film is a long examination of the history of The New York Times' coverage of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, which Chomsky says exemplifies the media's unwillingness to criticize an ally of the elite."
A must see ! Many people are upset by Chomsky's ideas because they believe he talks about some kind of conspiration of the elite against the public. Let's be clear here: there is no conspiracy, there is no network of men with suits and ties that meet in secret to talk about how to control the world and enslave us.
However, what is true and what people have a hard time believing in, is that there is a concentration of power in the hands of a tiny elite. With the financial crisis, there has been much talks about how the top 1% controls much of the resources, production capacities, political, media and financial power. This is no fantasy.
What is also interesting is that this documentary was made in 1992. Back then, internet was just burgeoning. Today, we can see how it is a central point of our life. Instead of sitting in a couch watching TV, we are now sitting on a couch watching stupid videos on Youtube, browsing endlessly on Facebook to look at pictures of people we don't even know. We are getting more and more isolated. Our attention span is decreasing. Our critical analysis is being reduced to nothing. We are becoming lonely, numb and dumb. And this is the easiest way to control a population. Bread and circuses, XXIst century style.
Internet is a great thing. It connects people all around the world, it allows them to share, to discuss, to access knowledge everywhere. But it is also a double edged sword. Internet is mostly used for things that have no real use, namely porn, Facebook and Youtube. Ask yourself honestly: what do you really do on internet? Read the mainstream news, with no analysis provided and a different topic every time. Online shopping, social websites and random things. Does it really make you any smarter or is it just becoming an addiction?
Another point worth noting is that there is no real and clear cut attempts to shape media coverage of events. Politicians do not ask the media to follow their narratives. But journalists are afraid of questioning the power-that-be, and thus do not challenge them as they should. They just create a narrative that fits with the current ideas and cover events that will not disturb the established power.
We should blame them, but first let's blame ourselves: we are the one consuming such (pardon the word) bullshit.
We are the one buying newspapers and watching TV.
We are the one agreeing and not challenging the stories they tell us.
We are the one interested by the number of insignificant yet sensational stories of any kind. It's just easier to believe that something might happen to you rather than admit the fact that probabilities are that you will live a quiet life. No one will try to blow himself up in your little town, there will be no natural catastrophe, no virus threatening the death of humanity and you will most likely die from a car crash or a natural death. Nothing exciting here.
It is time to make a change: turn off your TV, stop wasting your time on Facebook and watching sports events. Stop reading all the bullshit that they want you to believe. Start to get involved in associations, read the real news, watch documentaries and get your own ideas. The internet is a fantastic vector of knowledge, as was television in the mid 1950's. Look what it is now: a mash up of stupid TV shows picturing losers and TV games were people are ready to sell their moms to win money…
To conclude, here are two quotes from the 1958 RTNDA Convention speech of Edward R. Murrow:
"We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late."
"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it's nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful."
Do you really feel that we are smarter and wiser than 50 years ago just because we invented instant coffee and Internet ? I hardly think so…
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About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi