Disjointed rant on culture/media

Here is a simplistic conclusion that borders on nonsensical; "culture determines culture". Seems rather idiotic in the self-referencial way. But I'm beginning to see a zen-like truth in this statement. Let me clarify.

Our culture is self-determining, in a way. It feeds upon itself in some huge feedback loop. This is especially exemplified in examination of the media (qua voice of the people), where it shows us what we "are", and we act accordingly.

For example most people would view that we live in violent times, that murder and rape are rampant in America, when in fact the murder rate is the lowest it has been since 1980, and has shown a general decline from that rate. The same, for a lesser extent (for reasons to be covered later) go for rape, which has been on a slow decline since 19921. Meaning this popular view that our civilization is spiraling towards increased violence and rape is patently false. How can this erroneous view persist in the absence of evidence?

Same thing goes for the the sprees of kidnapping that we seem to go through, when it seems that the actual rate of kidnappings is unchanged over time. Notice what the genesis of these sprees are?

Same thing goes for the immediately pre-9/11 "summer of the shark", where it seemed that every day someone else was maimed or mauled by sharks. It seemed that even our bathtubs might harbor of evil shark enemies.

What is the common denominator? The media. The media loves violence, it makes better drama than young inter-city blacks holding the door open for little old ladies. The news fills our love of blood, it massively over-represents the amount of violence alive in our world today. And being that, for most of us, the news is our soul contact to outside trends (outside meaning outside of small claustrophobic lives consisting of work and a small circle of friends), we automatically view it as a fair representation of the state of the world. The media gives us violence because we buy violence, we don't want to watch the mundane (and common) world of human kindness, and normal behavior (that fact that most of our kinsmen are just like us in almost every way, a fact that makes the media possible).

The government, especially law enforcement, has a vested interest in this misrepresentation of violence. If it presents a view of paranoia, it increases the chance of individual law-enforcement agencies maintaining a high level of funding, which is in their interest (in that it is in its individual employees interest). If we are afraid, we need them to protect us, and then why would they present any other view? As an aside, it seems that the common thing between media and government, the common purpose, is self-survival (power).

Thus the mouth piece of our culture, the media (and to a lesser extent the government) influences our world view. Our world view, logically, influences our actions in the world. If we see a violent world, we will react as if we live in a violent world. The image is the functional reality. If the world is portrayed as being rife with adversary, then we will act as such, enemies will be everywhere. Our current "terrorism" spree is evidence of this, the world is projected to us (by those who love their positions) to be full of people wishing to kill us, and thus we act against those who we perceive as the other, and thus we infringe upon them (as "prevention") in such a way to make them our enemy. Can anyone say self-fulfilling prophecy? The image becomes the reality.

To get to a related point, this explains our current rate of violence, rape, and our self-projection of rampant violence. Our culture is set up in a way to see violence as socially acceptable, and to see sex as distasteful and taboo. A quick scan of television and the news shows us that violence is everywhere, but sex is socially banned. On TV we can easily see gaping gunshot wounds, murder, blood, serial killers, but rarely do we see intimate relationships. We, and our parents before us, squirm before our children at the mention of sex. Sex is dirty. But, sadly, biology plays a hand against that, sex is needed, natural, and infinitely desirable. Sadly our cultural conditioning, and thus us, say otherwise. We fight our own biological heritage (do I offend to call us animal?). What is the obvious solution? Violence.

Where is human nature in this? I question its existence. We act upon the world, our actions make our culture. Our culture determines our actions. The media presents the input we need in which to act, and the media acts in its self-interest. It tells us what we want to hear. Our culture becomes what it wants to becomes. Down the rabbit hole.

This is like Alasdair MacIntyre's2 view of art (viz craft), it spirals, its meaning is wholly dependent upon its previous state, and not upon any external good. Our world becomes arbitrary, upon itself.

As I've posited before, we self construct our individual egos by projection. And now I'm leaning towards our culture self-projecting itself to create itself. As above, so below.

Culture also has the sad attribute that it can go insane, it gets carried away with its own self-creative trends. Terrorism, murder, drugs, and most classically the witch-craze, crusades, and inquisitions of yore (and other kind contributions of the pious). The current analogues of these might be abortion, stem-cells, and modern mock-patriotism, existing only as issues as artificially charged cultural obsessions. Issues because we call them such.)

I'm going to quit this line of reasoning now. It is well night incoherent. Good food for though, just the same. I blame the sniffer of brandy.

1 According to this website

2 See After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory


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