Six Flags over Neo-Nuremberg: Bush, Oprah, the San Diego Chicken and a proto-fascist panopticon of the mind
By Phil Rockstroh
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 6, 2006, 01:12
fascism will come to the United States of America resembling contrived spectacles such as the Super Bowl, the Academy
Awards, and American Idol, with the proceedings intercut with teary, yet
ultimately triumphant, Oprahesque tales of how redemption can be gained through
the renunciation of one�s rights and liberties, as well as, the dutiful turning
in of one�s subversive neighbors.
Don�t reach for
that remote, folks: It�s already here.
Our journey to
fascism began at the end of the Second World War, when the tenets of the
hyper-commercialized entertainment / military / corporate state became
sacrosanct by means of our internalization of it from constant mass media
reinforcement. What purported to be only a message from our sponsors
metastasized into the 24/7 corporatized UberCulture of the present day. The
Revolution will not be televised � because the Corporatist Coup is being
advertising is a form of political speech: A very potent one and its effects
are far from benign. By means of its cultural dominance, commercial advertising
is promulgated, to the point of total market saturation, without any form of
effective opposition; hence, by its very nature, it amounts to corporatist
propaganda and serves as a vehicle of mass indoctrination.
By way of a
ceaseless bombardment of advertising imagery, we exist in a nonstop,
holographic, corporate Nuremberg rally of the collective mind. We need not
participate in old school, torch-lit processions of Brown Shirts through the
streets: This brand of all-media penetration proto-fascism has been
internalized. We, like maggots born into a pile of dung, find nothing
malodorous about our place of birth.
Karl Rove, Roger
Ailes, et al, are not evil geniuses. Well, at least, they�re not geniuses.
They�re simply cocktail party variety, confidence artists of the electronic
age. They're media professionals who understand the proto-fascistic fantasies
of the populace of the consumer state.
Hitler and Goebbels
grasped what any advertising copywriter is taught early on: People can be
manipulated, if an appeal can be addressed to modern man�s yearning to break
free from the constraints of his existence as an economic animal . . . Whether
it�s the promised dawning of the Thousand Year Reich or the empty facsimile of
freedom promised by the purchase of a new automobile, both provide the feckless
sucker with the illusion of shaking up the old order; hence, the quotidian
prison will collapse, allowing one�s imprisoned longings to escape to freedom
over the rubble. But first, paradoxically, one must surrender their rational
mind to the individuality-destroying agendas of the state and/or corporation.
habitually surrender their free will to the irrational dictates of a dominant
order, an inner anxiety results. Outwardly, one feigns strength, yet inwardly
one is ridden with doubts. To compensate, an individual will grow, over time,
more rigid, even totalitarian.
Enter George W.
Bush, a man affecting a massive measure of feigned toughness -- yet, at the
same time, riddled with such a high degree of concomitant inner doubts that
when he attempts to speak, his words trip and stagger over his lips like
drunken dwarves attempting to clear a high curb.
Bush is as vain and brutish as any tin-plated dictator. Worse, Bush more
closely resembles an abusive pimp � tragically -- Lady Liberty�s. Habitually
slapping her around, accusing her of holding out on him, and paranoid of
betrayal, Bush, a preening caricature of Macho Narcissism, like any
run-of-the-dark-alley pimp claims to be her protector, as, all the while, he
abuses, exploits, and degrades her. Apropos, Bush�s vast collection of outfits
for every occasion should include a plum purple pimp suit; accordingly, the
presidential limo should be tricked out to sport 1970�s style Cadillac El
Dorado opera windows, a two tone paint job, and be accessorized with plush,
white fur-lined upholstery.
It was the wicked
magicians of advertising who sold us George W. Bush. Bush was initially
marketed as a box of detergent (though he's dumb as a box of rocks) -- a
cleansing, Christian soap, to be used as directed to wash and scour the stain
of Satanic jism left on the fabric of American life by the sinful Bill Clinton.
Bush, a former drunk, now "cleaned-up," was ready to lead America to
a whiter-than-white future -- plus provide round-the-clock protection from the
offensive odors emitted by the body politic.
But, after the 11th
of September 2001, Bush was marketed as a Humvee. The biggest, most powerful
vehicle traveling the perilous roadways of a hostile world . . . It's okay,
kids; daddy's at the wheel . . . just sit in the backseat and watch your DVDs .
. . You're safe and protected: anybody or anything stupid enough to get in our
way will be crushed beneath us. Challenge us you evildoers and you'll join the
rest of the smoking wreckage and pulverized roadkill in our wake.
Although -- after
wildly fluctuating gas prices and a series of deadly rollovers on the roadways
of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Post-Katrina Gulf coast -- the Hummer presidency
of George W. Bush is sputtering: the DVD player is running an endless tape loop
of Bush strutting, clad in a flight suit, while Iraq burns and bleeds; in
addition, the vehicle�s passengers are carsick and road weary.
The fool�s gold
standard for this form of governance by marketing subterfuge was set by
former soap and nuclear missile salesmen Ronald Reagan, who was successfully
sold as a kind of grandfatherly Marlboro Man. Reagan, whose fantasy prone
hagiographers still believe, by some cryptic act of telegenic alchemy, brought
down the Soviet Union � somehow -- by simply reading a teleprompter. Later,
Bill Clinton was a rock-a-billy cool Elvis who fattened up the economy, like it
was binging on a round-the-clock, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and
chocolate cake diet.
At this point,
hapless George W. Bush, as was the case with his geeky, hyperthyroid father
before him, must be beginning to cause his corporate creators to drastically up
the dosages of their respective SSRI prescriptions, because, while they
intended to market Bush II as the heir apparent of the iconic, cowboy Ron
Reagan, it's clear he couldn't handle the responsibilities of the San Diego
Bush should serve
out the rest of his term wearing a chicken costume. Such an act would be
emblematic of the man, as well as our era: Bush as an emblem of the populace of
the United States -- a people who have lost their dignity, by way of
surrendering it to the corporatist order.
In a more literate
age, F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, limned
characters emblematic of his era. Yet the words he wrote in the 1920s still
resonate today as a powerful indictment of those who created and enable men
like Bush -- the corrupt corporatist classes of the present time:
careless people, Tom and Daisy -- They smashed up things and creatures and then
retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was
that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made .
. ." (Pg. 180-181)
Carelessness is the
manner by which extroverts manifest despair. Being a nation that considers
introspection a loser�s gambit, carelessness has been our national mode d'�tre
since the country's inception. Bush is only its latest manifestation.
And the mess is
piling up by the hour. As was the case with Gatsby, beneath the carefully
constructed image and manic consumption of the UberCulture, the American empire
is doomed. Although, we, unlike Gatsby, for all our cunning artifices and
desperate subterfuge, are not flaming out and falling amid the glittering debris
of frenetic, jazz-imbrued bacchanals -- we have only managed shopping spree
debt, overpriced coffee jags, McMansion-enclosed anomie and porn habituation.
Gatsby remains an
emblem of the hollowness howling beneath the convivial veneer of capitalist man.
An updated version of the model is Oprah Winfrey.
Yes, I realize
Gatsby is a fictional character, imagined and realized by F. Scott Fitzgerald
within the context of a novel; Gatsby is a construct of the mind sent out into
the world to synergize with the imagination of the reader. Yet the Oprah we
hold in our mind�s eye is also an imagined character -- a character wholly
created by Oprah, fully imagined and realized inside the media hologram.
Oprah is a
corporate capitalist, performance propagandist. Her rousing tales of personal
redemption are very useful to the plutocratic order of the present day; an
elitist order in which she's comfortably ensconced.
In a time when the
besieged laboring and middle classes would benefit from an honest expos� detailing
the ruling class machinations that belie their sense of powerlessness, Oprah,
instead, proffers 12-step platitudes, "Self Help" bromides (suggested
book club title: An Idiots Guide To Idiocy) and shopworn Horatio Alger
doggerel, all refitted to the media age.
The Gospel of Oprah
reeks of faux redemption. Even when Oprah addresses a topic such as the wage
enslavement of minimum wage jobs, she avoids the obvious question of who
benefits from having this exploitive system in place. Such disingenuous story
telling is analogous to Charles Dickens penning "A Christmas Story"
sans Ebenezer Scrooge.
Oprah is a
plutocratic enabler disguised as the populist underdog who made good. She is a
shill for the status quo. She will never point a pampered finger towards the
corrupt ruling elitist of the corporate class -- because that finger would end
up pointing back at her.
frenetic come-ons and false promises flatten people out emotionally, rendering
them depressed, passive, and conformist. Moreover, in a culture where success
is deemed the end all/be all of all things -- even a measure of God�s love and
grace -- when contemporary Americans risk straying from the mainstream and
fail, the repercussions are terrible, more than most people can endure,
economically, as well as psychologically. And within the parameters of a
corporately controlled economic structure -- rigged for the benefit of a
privileged few -- failure is altogether likely. Then combine those noxious
realities with the puritanical idea that failure is due to some character flaw
(a toxic notion Oprah has given a makeover for the media age) and we�re left
with a populace who are conformist, terrified to risk, yet cling to the
defining delusion that they live in a society where industry, innovation, and
pluck are rewarded with success.
For this reason the
corporatist order needs a consummate propagandist like Oprah; a charismatic
mountebank who, by means of her stem-twisting tales of personal redemption,
dangles before her credulous audience the elusive and illusionary carrot of
success. Success and personal fulfillment are possible for one and all, she
lies, if only one will surrender their rational instincts and avail oneself of
her gospel of self-help salvation. In doing this, Oprah simply sells a
variation of the old totalitarian snake oil.
Oprah Winfrey is a
sleight-of-hand artist. One of an order of corrupt illusionists who have
conjured an all-pervasive, corporatist narrative, a ceaseless mass-media
phantasmagoria, wherein empty imagery deluges authentic apprehension and our
minds are whirled within a virtual reality vortex that drowns out resonate
experience. The Virtual States of America.
In reality, a large
measure of our lives are comprised of long work hours, rounded by tedious,
time-decimating commutes, while in unison, mass media manipulation creates a
psychological and societal dynamic whereby we must work, nearly continuously,
so that we can afford to purchase the empty distractions needed to stave off
the demoralization attendant to this soul-numbing arrangement; yet, for all our
efforts, we only accumulate more enslaving debt. Ultimately, condemning
ourselves to exist indentured to our corporate bosses, by means of our own
and our own complicity contrive to fetter us to the global company store of
late capitalism as, all the while, our perceptions remain imprisoned within the
proto-fascist panopticon of the Uberculture. Part prison, part holographic
theme park of the mind, it spins a ceaseless spectacle of commercial
propaganda. Call it: Six Flags over Neo-Nuremberg, U.S.A.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic,
gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor