Thursday, October 22, 2009

Medved's Immediate Gratification

I suppose psychoanalyzing the masses is a cheap thrill. The so-called Balloon Boy incident permits Michael Medved an opportunity to do just that. So here's the doctor's report: We "gullible millions" need an "escape from the dull, predictable aspects of our own lives into a world that seems bigger and better." The "excitement and immediacy" of "clearly delineated climaxes" resulting in "triumphs or tragedy" provides "satisfying denouement" and "voyeuristic thrill." We crave "clear winners and losers" and get caught up in the latest "short-lived national craze." We are addicted to "showy spectacle" and "tube-ready extravaganzas." "We cherish coverage that allows us to believe that we're part of unfolding history-viewing occurrences of epic significance or grandeur."

All this he gets from news coverage of a pointlessly floating balloon. A sensible person might analyze news organizations. But Medved is omniscient. He looks into the privacy of our homes. He knows exactly what we think. He knows our desires and needs.

It reminds me of Adorno and Horkheimer's silly Marxist critique of the culture industry. The media's barrage of "mass deception" will not allow "any suspicion that resistance is possible." Regardless of what is promised, there is no escaping "everyday drudgery." Everything leads back to the same ridiculous starting point. So says the Marxist. It's a sad day when conservatives are in basic agreement.

Medved has a prescription. He will heal us through the "mature realization" that recommended dosages of "incremental change" will provide "slow, steady progress toward goals" and "quiet but lasting rewards earned through discipline and deferred gratification."

Medved is more than a frustrated Freudian. His psychobabble has a political agenda. He conjures up an "Age of Obama." Apparently Obama "offers the same powerful appeal" as balloon-boy. For example, the "president and his minions" supposedly provide an "all-or-nothing attitude toward health-care reform." We must choose from two stark options: "either a sweeping, glorious victory" or a "shattering, tragic defeat." Democrats will either claim "exclusive credit," or "a shattering, tragic defeat for which they can blame Republicans."

Does anyone but a confused ideologue believe this melodrama? Obama has gone out of his way to find a compromise on health care. He has shown great flexibility. Republicans are the ones painting the canvas in broad strokes of black and white. Everything is "socialistic" even when there is no serious proposal to nationalize hospitals, doctors or insurance. Do conservatives even know what socialism is? I doubt it. The term is simply used as a slur. Why don't they refer to the military as socialistic? After all, it's much more socialistic than any health plan put forward so far.

But here are some better questions for Medved. Were "liberals" tuned into the balloon-boy event in greater numbers than "conservatives?" Does Medved have numbers on that? Were the conservative viewers plagued by the failed "Age of Bush?" Maybe the "fresher fetish or fad" is more politically acceptable when it's an angry Town Hall meeting, Tea Party, or "Shock and Awe" bombing run in Baghdad. What would Medved make of the “Baby Jessica” coverage in 1987 during the "Age of Reagan?" What was our national disease then?

Face it. Showy spectacles and tube-ready extravaganzas are a conservative staple. It's either idiocy or hypocrisy for Medved to imply the balloon-boy event had anything to do with an "Age of Obama" or similar events will disappear once he is gone.

-- Don Jindra

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