About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Revolution Will Be Televised


Fox News believes it is calling the shots in America.  In the surface this seems to be an absolutely accurate statement.  All mainstream news organizations, the major networks, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, even Telemundo all follow Fox News’ lead.  They cover the stories Fox wants them to cover, ignore the stories that Fox wants them to ignore, and at the very least parrot back the spin that Fox wants them to parrot.  Although to be fair, they do this last one in the misguided attempt to present a “balanced” opinion, and try to show both sides of the story. 

I must say though, presenting a case based on truth, followed by spin is not “balanced,” because to be fair, you do not have to present a falsehood to balance the truth.  If that were the case, every time you talked about the Earth being round, you would also have to have a member of the Flat Earth Society presenting the argument against roundness.  Journalistic ethics do require presenting both sides of the story, but they do not require wrapping up lies in the tissue of truth.

This said, it is true that Fox controls most of what is covered in the “Mainstream” press, they set the agenda, and everyone else follows it.  If your understandings of Occupy Wall Street, or the protests in the Rust Belt earlier this year, come from Traditional News Outlets, you probably have a very specific viewpoint on those movements, and a very different one on the Tea Party. 

In the past, this iron grip of MiniTrue on the discourse in the country would have disenfranchised and ultimately stopped the protests.  It would have painted a picture of anarchists and malcontents attempting to riot in the great cities of the country, and stopped general support of the movement.  They would have demonized the protestors in the same way that McCarthy demonized the Left Wing.  The Influencing Machine would have bulldozed anyone standing in their way.

And this is what Fox is still trying to do.  The stunt of “Occupy The Five” on the “news” show the Five (complete with tinfoil hats) would have been a devastating portrait of the movement.  Glenn Beck tearful pleas would have gotten traction.  Rush Limbaugh’s rants would have gotten people in the streets in a counter protest.

That is the past.  To understand what is going on in America, and around the world, and why MiniTrue no longer has the control it once had, you need to look at the Arab Spring as a model. 

The totalitarian governments of Egypt and Libya had even more control over the press than MiniTrue (hence the term totalitarian) and yet they could not stop the protests that overwhelmed their countries.  Syria, Iran, Yemen and the others may very well fall to this as well, despite their grip on the news.  The reason for it is actually quite simple, and spells the end of a monolithic control of the press controlling the national discourse.

Young people, by and large, do not get their news from Traditional Media.

At best, the mainstream news sources provide only a portion of the information diet of the youth.  And guess who led the Arab Spring and who’s behind the Occupy the World movement?  The young.

The people out in the streets protesting are not hearing the message that MiniTrue wants them to hear, because they are not listening.

They get their information from a host of completely unregulated, unfiltered sources.  They consume media from Web sources like BoingBoing and Reddit.  (Even the Huffington Post, once the cutting edge of liberal thought is now gone too mainstream for many.)  They follow Twitter feeds, read blogs, watch YouTube videos.  They facebook.

Most of their information comes digitally using a very old fashioned concept.  They get their information from people they know.  It is how we got information for thousands of years, by word of mouth.  It is again how we get information, but the word of mouth now spreads over the entire Web.  This word of mouth exists outside of the control of MiniTrue, any government censors, or the demands of any oligarch.

It is viral, in both senses of the word, and it spreads unstoppably through multiple vectors.  No amount of censorship will shut it off, no amount of blocking will stop it, no amount of trying will make it go away.  For better or for worse, the internet cannot be stopped.  No matter what digital barricades are raised, hackers will always chop their way through, and the hordes will rush through the breach.

The internet stands as the new and ultimate defense against tyrants, the virtual agora where come together and shine a light into the darkness.  For the first time in history, there is no longer a way to control the dissemination of information, knowledge cannot be blocked.  The right to assemble in the virtual world is a truly unalienable right.

For the first time, the revolution WILL be televised (on YouTube.)

In case you have never seen the poem that I'm paraphrasing, here it is:

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott Heron

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