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The Great Distraction
by Rachel Olivieri
February 2, 2005

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Who will win the Super Bowl? That is as easy as saying, “Culture Industry,” the hands down winner for perhaps the last 38 Super Bowls. An anticipated 145 million predominately male US viewers are expected to tune in [tune-out]. Who says Big Brother is watching? Quite unnecessary -- far too many are more than willing to watch him, on their dime.

Perhaps some Americans need a break from the war, pending economic doom, social security privatization, world poverty, global warming, prayer in schools and gay marriage. Well, I suppose it is just as well that they excuse themselves from the necessity of living their own lives. Why bother when we can sit down, pop a beer and watch someone else’s reality. Ooops, just a Matrix thought.

One can only imagine how many avocados, potatoes (chips), beer, [mad cow] burgers and sour cream that await ingestion. And to think, mass consumption in celebratory concert the American Way. How sweet it is!

Back in 1935, with the establishment of the Gallup Poll, who could have imagined that public opinion would rally up to the culture media trough with such passionate enthusiasm. And, as the passive, mostly solitary, non-interactive spectator primes for the 59 tantalizing ad slots averaging $2.4 million per 30 seconds. Indeed, this brings single message delivery to heights not imagined by even Hitler or Stalin. Of course then, Hitler’s state sponsored radio giveaways to all the volks to tune in to his unifying message did not have a venue as exciting as football. Just a mustachioed man with a strange salute and short stature.

So, let us all celebrate Mass Culture as well as the extinction of individualism, critical thinking and salute our in-action heroes whose homes most of us will never be invited to dinner to discuss poor plays. I am sure George Bush and Co. will be sufficiently entertained although not as entertaining as Iraq or say pending Iran. Okay, let’s call it amusing. 

And, who better to serve as host to such an American cultural occasion then our beloved culture capitalist, Fox. This multi-billion dollar extravaganza will attempt to relieve an estimated 30 million men suffering from ED with the on message for the potential four-hour erection. Now there is a thought to ponder.

Indeed, Cialis’ ad last year attracted some objections as well as unintended chuckles. A warning about possible side effects: “Men who experience an erection for more than four hours should seek immediate medical attention.” Perhaps a friend or a loved one might help if medical attention is not convenient. Just a thought.

Since many conflict minded citizens seem to embrace the Bush war theme, an Uncle “Cyber” Arnie inspired doll will instruct and prepare our young boys as to the pitfalls of being a “Mama’s Boy.” This “Mama’s Boy” doll will effectively deliver the message, “He never sweats because he doesn’t risk leaving Mama.” How lovely, we certainly do not want men who do not sweat let alone hang onto Mama.

After all, only real men can fight real wars. To insure the multi-million dollar message is well invested, Dull Co. intends future ads featuring sad-sack doll buddies -- “The Wuss” and “The SuckUp” for good measure. No kiddin’ -- America’s wars will simply not tolerate any of these kinds of girlie men and neither will steroid pumping Schwarzenegger.

Oh, I am not writing to knock football per se, I really do not care to know that much about it. Although from what I can easily gather, over-paid, spoiled, over-testosteronized men in armored plating make their point by scoring more points in a fashion similar to a mock war except occasionally players are injured, badly.

What I find more interesting than the game of football itself is the game it replaced as America’s national pastime, baseball. Recall “The Wuss” and “The SuckUp” doll.  One might see a trend here. American Empire, apparently, is not properly symbolized by the belted homerun as it once was. These days you have to belt a whole lot of ‘em to get any attention at all. Bring on the steroids and corked bats.

Even a sizzling line drive through the middle cannot match up with a crushing broadside hit that leaves its target unconscious. Then the audience can suffer the silence, count the seconds, then minutes until, like Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Jerry MaGuire,” they can all cheer when he miraculously gets up. This seems to lend itself well to modern day mass mentality.

What is the point? Well, I suppose the point is twofold. 

The most important point is the reality of effective delivery of one [media] source message to a massive audience. Or, a common message without any horizontal interaction with each other. That mass culture is extremely vulnerable for manipulation and this concept is not lost to the cultural industry -- They invest in it.

Imagine for just a moment if just before the broadcast it was announced that regular programming was going to be interrupted due to a vital message of great public interest. That George Bush and his stable of thugs were indicted for crimes of high treason. Now, that would be a culture moment worth watching.

The second point is trivial: I do not like football.

Rachel Olivieri is a writer and activist based in Northern California. She can be reached at:

Other Articles by Rachel Olivieri

* Souls in the City
* Surviving Bush: Kill the Buddha
* John Kerry Ain’t No Democrat