Saturday, January 21, 2012

Who Do You Trust?

Greetings my Angry Angels!  Hope today finds you well and you are all charged up for another Anger Management Session!

Yesterday I said we are going to talk about TV and thats what we are going to do.

Have you ever looked at the TV schedule and wondered how the hell do so many of these programs get on the air?  Granted I have my guilty pleasures of watching some "competition" shows like Top Chef and Angry Woman seems to like Hardcore Pawn quite a bit, but who is putting all these reality shows on?  Seriously!  Every cable channel has at least three or four shows that are geared to this phenomenon.  This doesn't even touch on these "talent" shows like American Idol or X-Factor or whatever, that are designed to tell us who is a star and who isn't.

Now there are some truly great shows out there, most of which you would have to pay for like Game of Thrones on HBO or Spartacus on Showtime.  Sometimes the free cable channels hit a great story like the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica a few years back, or Firefly before Fox COMPLETELY fucked that up.  But to look at the major networks schedule from season to season, they all rely on "reality" or instant gratification TV.  There used to be a time when you would hear a song on the radio and either really like it or really not.  Then you would call into the radio station and request to hear the song when you were sitting near your HiFi praying that Casey Kasem would get around to your request.  The other way to hear about new music, or tv for that matter, was word of mouth.  Basically a friend or family member would stumble on a new show or tune and suggest it to you.

Usually this last method was the best indicator of something that you would like assuming that your friends gave a damn about what you liked.  But it's easier today.  We don't have to wait for our friends to recommend anything because we have "experts" like Simon Cowell and that dried up dude from Aerosmith to tell us what real talent is.  We get to pretend that we have a choice on who we are going to get to listen to ad nauseum through phone voting, but it doesn't really matter.  Everyone involved in these types of shows makes money from top to bottom. And that is really what it always comes down to...the money.

Now I don't bear any grudges or hide any anger at these contestants seeking fame and fortune and generally putting forth a very honest effort.  The process of natural selection as it comes to "The Next Big Thing" has changed somewhat and they are just adapting faster than some.  But we as consumers have the real choice in the long run on whether or not to place our trust in what we should like as defined by Simon et. al. or if we should decide for ourselves.  When it comes to music, and tv, and movies and other forms of entertainment there really isn't that much harm in promoting to the largest denominator possible.  Notice I didn't say anything about reading as that requires a bit more effort and dedication, I mean "A Song of Fire and Ice" on which "A Game of Thrones" is based is only 5 books in, out of a planned 7 and that's already 5,000 pages.  That and I'm sure there wouldn't be a huge tv audience for America's Best Author hosted by Stephen King.

So why the hell am I writing about this my Angry Angels?

You know what happens this year?  That's right!  The Mayan Long-count Calendar says this is the big year and the sun is gonna go crazy and Nibiru is gonna crash through the solar system and all hell is gonna break loose and everyone is gonna die.  Except John Cusack.  He'll survive and be the only remnant of the Huffington Post in the new world.

Actually it's a lot worse than sitting through 158 minutes of Roland Emmerich.  It's a presidential election year.  The ultimate reality show.  The consequences are more dire with NONE of the humor in absurdity like most of Roland's offerings...

The tragedy however is that this season's run of The Greatest American Liar's X-Factor is going to result in NO CHANGES WHATSOEVER!  You want to know why?  Because just like the voting in American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, this is a reality show where your opinion matters for shit. For far too long the course of this nation has been shaped by people who have less and less in common with you, us, we the people.  Yes I'm talking about corporate interests and crooked politicians and the rest of the circus.  But before any of you start getting angry at those self-righteous conservatives or looney liberals, I want you to get mad at the people who deserve it and that's "US" my Angry Angels.

Yeah, they are the ones who have a 13% approval rating in Congress, but how many of them are not going to be in office come next inauguration day?  Very few.  And they are being led by someone whose approval rating is below 50%!!  According to Real Clear Politics only 28% of us think the country is going in the right direction!  28%!!  If only 28% of us think the country is going in the right direction, why do these people still have jobs??

In any other career path, if your boss said you were only doing a good job 28% of the time you would be out on your ass looking for another job!!  So why do we let this continue?  Why do these people still run our country?  Because we let them!

I don't really care what side you are voting on, but a 13% approval rating for congress means NONE OF US TRUST YOU ANYMORE!  But yet you are still in office, telling US what to do!  Are you fucking kidding me?

I'm sure if Carrie Underwood had a 13% approval rating she wouldn't have won season 4 of American Idol regardless of any improprieties in voting or who in the corporate world was supporting her! Carrie has sold something like 13 million records and makes a ridiculous amount of money on tour so it would seem that putting our trust in Simon and Randy and Paula has worked out for all of us, especially her.  But that is the American dream isn't it?  Entertainment's version of natural selection worked.

So why does natural selection of politics seem to work in the exact opposite?  Partially because the political versions of the American Idol judges are so incredibly rabid with partisan polemic that we forget there are actual issues and lives at stake and view the show as just another form of entertainment!!  We get wrapped up in the emotion and drama of the show and forget that this isn't American Idol.

In 1960 the first televised Presidential Debate was aired on CBS between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Richard Nixon.  Little did the nation realize 52 years ago that they were watching the first reality TV program.  Image, for the first time, played a role in the shaping of our nation.  In 1980 Ronald Reagan would use his ease in front of the camera to translate into a landslide election victory over Jimmy Carter.

Now here is an interesting bit.  On Oct 3, 1988 ( Oct 3 being my birthday, remember that!), Nancy Neuman President of the League of Women Voters, who had been a non-partisan host of the Presidential debates for the previous 3 elections issued a statement regarding the upcoming debates between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis.  This is an excerpt:

The League of Women Voters is announcing today that we have no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public. Under these circumstances, the League is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October in Los Angeles.

On the threshold of a new millennium, this country remains the brightest hope for all who cherish free speech and open debate. Americans deserve to see and hear the men who would be president face each other in a debate on the hard and complex issues critical to our progress into the next century.

The whole statement can be found here:

"Americans deserve to see and hear the men who would be president..." Yeah we still deserve that and I don't think we ever will see it again.  And why?  Because there isn't a SINGLE politician at the national level, and probably not at the state level either, who hasn't been carefully crafted by handlers and other big money interests.  Now the first one of you who says that voting for our current president was a vote for change, I want you to go outside and punch yourself in your head until you can come back with some fucking sense.

We have a permanent class of professional politician in this country, and this profession comes with entitlements and liberties NONE of us have the opportunity to take advantage of.  How many of these elected officials come out of office SIGNIFICANTLY more wealthy than when they went in?  Damn near all of them.  How many of my Angry Angels have jobs where you get to influence the stock value of companies you invest in by writing laws?  I would bet a good amount of money to say "ZERO OF YOU!!"

Out of 300 million citizens in the United States these 536 with a 13% approval rating are the best we can do? No.  They in fact are not.  They are the ones someone has chosen for you to represent you.  And they are presented to you by asshats like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck, all of whom have a vested interest in keeping you tuned in.  And do these "presenters" really CARE about what happens to all of my Angry Angels out there?  Hell no!  They care about keeping their rancorous shows on the air, so they can get paid by their sponsors.  The more of us that tune in, the more views their commercials get, the better.  The more conflict they can create between the two sides, the angrier we get at each other, the more money they make.

Is this anyway to run a company let alone a country?  OUR COUNTRY??  Fuck no!!

It's time we redirect our ANGER not at each other, but at the real problem in this country.  The politicians who keep us as a class of serfs and constantly change the rules to ensure we never rise up.  It's time they all go back from whence they came.  If at the end of any given year the President and Congress have an approval rating of lower than 25% and the direction of the country is less than 50% that should serve as an automatic recall.  If you are recalled, you do not get to run for reelection at the state or federal level.  EVER.

Yeah I realize that this would cause some serious issues with our election cycle and  blah blah blah.  So what??  All you Occupy this and Tea that folks have to focus on one thing.  Big Politics is NEVER going to let the system change.  The power, the money, the control, the legal abuses, the two party system all of it is balanced against us.  The fastest way for us to even the score out is to put them on notice that their jobs are in immediate jeopardy.  Not when the election cycle rolls around. Now.  Just like ours are when we don't perform.

Wipe the slate clean and starting fresh is sometimes the best thing we can do.  And since the odds of a military coup are tragically small, we have to stage our own constitutional coup.  Once we get rid of the top of the political class, maybe we can start with a real government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Until we turn off the volume on all these screaming heads on tv and stop believing when they tell us what our choices are, we are going to be stuck with the same type of discourse we have now.  And quite frankly, I think Simon Cowell is a better judge of future performance than any of the Matthews and Becks and the rest of their circus folk are.

Great session today Angels!!  Remember to take your ANGER and make a difference!!

Tomorrow:  Group Session #3


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