‘THE BRAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE" PART ONE—By Tom Barger
The RIAA has aligned with the quest of the Ashcroft Justice Department’s to attain perfect control over what people see and hear.
Requiring that a user pay each time she reads a page or listens to a song may be a publisher’s wet dream, but trusted computing is in fact the death knell for anonymity. All the more ironic then, that Senator Orrin Hatch experiences tech confusion when he warns that computer users who dabble in "music previewing for fun" have exposed their own credit card passwords and IRS data to the world. What he proposes as a solution, the Brave New Internet 3.0, will create metadata tags of all your purchasing, sexual and political preferences. These will sold to advertisers, stalkers, potential employers and landlords.
This may be of no small interest to the Justice Department as well. The media corporations are not averse to getting what they want by trading away little things like the suspension of due process, habeas corpus, confronting your accuser, and the First and Fourth amendments.
Contemporary chat rooms and email lists are afire with a resurgence in popularity of "1984." The aspect of camp or retro-raunch cannot be discounted. Big Brother is a Rock Star. We’ve elected one in California. The cyborg who is enigmatic and cool.
From "1984:" –
"There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section --Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak -- engaged in
producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at." 1984—George Orwell
George Orwell was in ill-health when he raced to finish 1984. Critics seem to agree that he did not supply the answer to Agent O’Brien’s question that shattered Winston Smith’s resistance: "Do you believe in God?" I suggest that Orwell’s prescience was intact. He did not have the final piece of the puzzle, which we now know to be true: Perfect State Control via internet. The "memory hole" was a good guess and is a partial answer of the larger picture. Orwell could not have known that the issues that bedeviled writers of his era would be moot at the end of the century. American manufacturing is now outsourced; and few jobs remain in that sector described as "information technology." Put that in your pot and feed the family. Even jobs in the service industry (i.e. phone solicitation and help-desk) are guaranteed to be fielded by people with Bangladore accents.
George Orwell penned a masterpiece that was a jazzy riff on the utopian visions of H.G. Wells. Orwell was deeply conversant (and irritated) with pan-socialist and industrial issues that preoccupied post-War Britain: the time and motion studies of Frederick Taylor, and the ideal of the management class as proposed by James Burnham. "The Managerial Revolution" (and the two books "The Machiavellians" and "The Struggle for the World" that came after) espoused Burnham’s views that capitalism could not handle issues of unemployment, deficit spending , the triage of resources, artificial scarcity, war profiteering and hoarding; resuscitating an agrarian economy; and ultimately depicting a luckless system that cannot inspire even the meanest public confidence in its own bankrupt ideology.
What Burnham proposes is a working model in which the science of human resources will prevail. Not communism; rather a Management Class that will supervise happy toilers in the Industrial Realpolitik. From this bitter carbon-soot, Orwell crafted a savage parody that pushes the Burnham-esque plot to the limit. Orwell doesn’t so much prophesy as sound the clarion call to take up arms.
Modern film audiences may be most conversant with the acid-pitted ruins of post-L.A. "Blade Runner." In contrast to the sunny optimism of Wells Utopia or Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, a "dystopia" depicts a nightmare landscape. 1984 owes a major debt to earlier bleak works such as Brave New World (1930-Aldous Huxley) and We (1924-Yevgeny Zamayatin) The plots are virtually identical. It is ironic that the imaginations of such authors were free to comment upon, commit homage to (and even bitterly satirize) prior works. Authors in those days were seemingly not so tightly constrained by copyright laws.
A film remake of "1984" would surely find a enthusiastic response from modern audiences, save for the fact that media oligarchs will not fund such a film, for it would expose their own complicity in the assault on the Constitution.
BLESSED BE THE CHILDREN
"It was almost normal for people over thirty to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed in which The Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak -- 'child hero' was the phrase generally used -- had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police."—"1984"—
"It was a real horrorshow."--A Clockwork Orange—Anthony Burgess
What was new about "A Clockwork Orange? " The earlier works suggested the same theme of perfect state control: the death of sex, accomplished by brainwashing, sensory deprivation, musical memes and chemical rehabilitation. "A Clockwork Orange" introduces media assault.
Post modern cineastes will recognize the embodiment of today’s Soul Stealer: the white-coated clip-board bearing psychologist who tweaks and prods the incapacitated subject with needles and joy juice, wiring him up with mood machines, and subjecting him to an onslaught of violent media. This government therapist is commonly seen smiling unnaturally as he whistles Beethoven.
Surely, the plots of "1984" and "A Clockwork Orange" lend themselves easily to popular screenplay adaptations. But it is the use of the soundtrack of nostalgia that induces the subject to a sense of panic, for music is irresistible. The mind bids singsong melodies at the most inappropriate times, similar to the situation when a surgeon invades an inner globe of your brain. It is this leitmotive that is the trigger-reflex for a Manchurian Candidate-style behavior mod.
The seminal dystopic novel "We" (1924) described a future concert:
"I didn’t manage to switch my attention back on until the phonolecturer had gotten down to his basic theme: to our music, to mathematical composition (the mathematician is the cause, the music the result), to a description of the recently invented musicometer.
"Simply by turning this handle, any of you can produce up to three sonatas an hour. And how much labor such a thing cost your ancestors! They could only by whipping themselves into attacks of ‘inspiration’—some unknown form of epilepsy." –"We"—Yevgeny Zamayatin
If we envision the "Stepford Wife" giving birth to "Rosemary’s Baby" perhaps we embody the "Fear of Having Babies" in the 1970’s. If so, today’s internet panic has orphaned the dreaded "Other" in our grown-up Yuppie homes. I would describe the parents’ dilemma as the acronym "PLUS-R": the uncomfortable sensation of being sued for the actions of "Persons Living Under The Same Roof." Media conglomerates conspire with the State to create surveillance laws to be undertaken by The Ministry of Truth. The hapless protagonists in "1984" and "Clockwork" are programmed to become productive workers. But more importantly, the debate of Augustinian Free Will has been resolved. Alex and Winston will go forth and consume happily. Under proper rehabilitation, the crimes are seen to be the results of ones’ former recalcitrance, and today’s productivity is indeed an expression of individual choice. "Resistance is futile" proclaim the banners in our schools.
WANT TO READ MORE? See Part Two at http://news.dmusic.com/article/10576