|By Clyde Lewis
"The American people are turning sullen. They've been clobbered on all sides by Vietnam, Watergate, the inflation, and the depression. They've turned off, shot up, and they've fucked themselves limp, and nothing helps."— Diana Christenson from the movie "Network."
Peter Finch played Howard Beale, the suicidal anchorman from the movie "Network." He got tired of the same old programming that he was reporting. He became more and more frustrated by the day. One day he decided to do something bold. He decided to start telling the truth.
"I would like at this moment to announce that I will be retiring from this program in two weeks time because of poor ratings. Since this show is the only thing I had going for me in my life, I've decided to kill myself. I'm going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show. You ought to get a hell of a rating out of that. Fifty share, easy.
All human beings are becoming humanoids. All over the world, not just in America. We're just getting there faster since we're the most advanced country.
We’ll tell you anything you want to hear-- we lie like hell.
You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here, you're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal! You do! Why, whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion!
Television is not the truth! Television is a goddamned amusement park!
Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube! This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people!"
Howard Beale if he existed would be called a whacko right now. He would be the man who would come on the television look right in the camera and tell everyone the bitter truth:
"Yesterday, I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide. Admittedly, an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit."
He immediately would be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. The term that seems to be abused when anyone decides to speak out against the lies. He would be called a liberal, a traitor, and a fifth columnist, paranoid, delusional, unpopular.
How many people would demand that he be taken off the air? How many people would boycott his show? How many would have the balls to listen to him and understand that both sides who are fighting are becoming more and more of the problem than the solution.
Maybe that is why Beale was killed.
When do you put your well being in jeopardy for the cause?
Why are we letting the media dictate when we should, laugh or cry? Why is it that we are becoming everything that we despised some 60 years ago? Why is no one demonstrating how these types of behaviors lead to civil unrest, rioting, perhaps even internal war?
I echo the sentiment of Mr. Beale.
The media seems to be running out of bullshit—and so are the marchers, and the militant miscreants that abuse the rights of citizens. They are going to find themselves causing changes in policies. Mark my words they will indeed be surprised at what those changes will be.
The war seems to have hit a nadir with me. The whole time I had talked until I was blue about how all of this was a big mistake. There is no way of changing people’s minds. They believe with all of their heart that we are doing the right thing.
I have been blowing off war discussions because now the message is not stop the war but prepare for the trap. It seems that the mainstream media has set the trap.
They show the war moving full speed ahead when in reality the whole exercise is beginning to wear Americans out. Their morale is slipping and the repercussions are going to be quite surprising to everyone.
The arguments of whether or not we should be in Iraq should be quieted now. We are facing another war.
The war at home.
It is brewing now and if we don’t open up for meaningful dialogue here at home the foundation will crumble and someone else will have to lay a hand to us and tell us to stop destroying ourselves.
I know that sounds like I am running away.
On the contrary I am going to be right. I don’t have to get into your face over it; I have done that already. Those who are still doing it should stop and take a breath and be confident that there will be a balancing soon.
The new discussion should be about the sound that rings out to those who will hear. It is the sound of inevitability; it is the sound that warns you of the trap that has been set. The trap that may mean our death or our metaphoric passing into that good night.
"You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death."—Agent Smith to Neo in the Matrix
Never in my life have I seen the internal strife that this war has created. Never have I seen such rage, such hypocrisy, and us against them attitudes. It is either the pointing of the finger at "them," or the complacence of "Us"
How did we become so angry? Where did we lose our common sense? How did we allow ourselves to be mesmerized into thinking that all of this war is not going to add up to a "pay back?"
I’m sure that we believe we can handle it.
Many have told me that "pay back" is no excuse to stop a war.
But what about "Payback" that the world will cheer on?
How would we feel as Americans if someone dropped a bomb on us and other countries just shrugged their shoulders and looked away? Even worse what if they cheered, as our people die horrible deaths?
Countries had our sympathy after the events of 9/11.
Now I am not so sure.
The mainstream media is the window in which we see all that is happening with the war. It seems that not only does the mainstream media have freedom of the press but they have the freedom to depress as well.
Everywhere I go I see war reports. You can’t find escape from it. I was watching ESPN the other day and there was more on Sports figures and their opinions on the war. The only thing that can give you escape is the movies and even then we see more war movies being churned out.
Could it be that the media is creating the bad taste in everyone’s mouth regarding the war?
I became ambivalent after George W. Bush didn’t blink. He gave his ultimatum and kept his word. Probably one of the only things that he has kept his word about unfortunately. Now the war is happening the media seems to continue giving audience to propaganda that confuses rather than informs.
Opinion Polls show 75 % approval for the war. Yet anti war rallies are huge, and pro war rallies are small in comparison. Then the media creates even more hostility by calling the protestors anti war and the pro war faction pro troop.
This sends out a signal that peaceful protestors do not support the courageous men and women who lay their lives on the line for America.
The other day a good friend of mine asked me "Is anyone really Pro-War?"
I stopped and thought; probably the mentally ill are pro war.
Is anyone really for death and killing? Do you really support genocide? How about Democide and megadeath? If you do you are no better than Saddam Hussein.
I am sure there are a lot of soldiers that are in Iraq right now that don’t want to be there. No matter we have plenty of people right here in America that want to kill their fellow citizens because they just don’t agree with them.
I have been seeing some peculiar behaviors that frighten me.
I was at BC’s, a local bar in Portland Oregon. The news was on and showing the protestors clashing with Police. This caused a few feathers to ruffle and soon no one could go without being vocal about their disgust. Pro and con were bickering between each other and my blood pressure was going up because I was there to have fun and not fight about who was right and who was wrong.
Then I looked up and right there in color was the American Flag being burned in the street.
My heart sank.
I was sad and hurt.
But this was the brave new world. The world that we have chosen. So sad, really.
I then heard a voice yell at the screen "We should get our guns and shoot those mutherfuckers."
I hissed at him and said, "Stop that right there!" They have a right to protest! No one needs to go and kill anyone. Are you out of your mind? We are Americans we are bigger than this!
I then requested that the channel be changed.
I felt I was in the middle of something I wrote back in 1999. It was a fictional dream sequence based on a Twilight Zone story, I took artistic license on it and it may show you how bad it can get.
I am going to share it with you again and thinking about it scares me. From The 1999 Article Fear Factory the Anatomy of the Blair Witch Project I wrote:
"The smoke was heavy at the Ross Island "Cake and Steak." Fogerty was on the Jukebox, and the aroma of bacon mixed with tobacco wrapped itself around my face as I stared at the swirl of cream in my nuclear hot brew. There are many out of the way places here in what I now call the bubble. Places where trailer trash queens and late night partiers come to clean up their beer stained heads. I Look around and like a dark angel in "Wings of desire" I try to imagine what everyone is thinking. From the toothless old guy who snaps his tongue every time a short skirted bleach blonde walks by to the big bearded Paul Bunyan type who has just finished his second short stack.
It's just a calm and reflective Moment before the monsters came.
Suddenly a bright light flashes overhead. The television flashes snow and then goes dark. A herring bone image appears on the set and a distorted picture returns with a special Northwest News Update. I take a gulp of my hot coffee blistering the roof of my mouth, and feeling the burn go slowly down my chest to my already nervous stomach. A tremor was felt in Vancouver , some are reporting a rumble but no damage. Seismic reports say 5.3 on the Richter scale. The Flash of light is dismissed as a meteor. Soon, the electricity is down and even telephones and radios won't work.
Some guy with egg yolk in his beard mumbles that this is it. He says something about some talk show host who had on a two bit Psychic blathering about some Nostradamus Prophecy that is supposed to happen in the summer. That alien Monsters are going to attack and that a Middle Eastern anti-christ will take the reigns of power and seize them.
Two young guys wearing Korn shirts go outside and notice that all of the cars going to Ross Island have stopped. Not because there is a traffic jam but because the engines had seized up. Suddenly the screams of sirens can be heard and 9 police cars whiz by at blurring speed.
Towards the pacific coast there seems to be a burst of light creating what appears to be a sunset in the west. By nightfall, the power is still not on and everybody is gathered outside in small clusters. Some are fearing the worst. A Bomb dropped perhaps. Maybe it was a terrorist bombing?
A man looks over at the dark skinned Lebanese fry cook with a hint of accusation.
"It's a God Damned Terrorist attack!"
Someone else shouts;
"It's those Mutha fucking Iraqis. They have come to kill us all."
He belligerently strikes up an argument about who can be trusted now. He goes out to his truck and grabs his shotgun. The Fry cook attempts to leave but is stopped by the owner of the restaurant. One of the Patrons grabs a tablecloth and binds the fry cook's hands together. Another takes a cloth napkin and blindfolds the trembling man and then kicks his legs. He falls to the ground and bites his tongue. A small trickle of blood slowly falls from his lips. He hears footsteps and realizes that he hasn't much time to live. He urinates in his pants and the crowd laughs at him.
A crack of gunfire is heard and the screams of the fry cook are heard no more.
The women begin crying, but the men say it had to be done. Some say that it was obvious that the towel headed darkies had bombed something. This time they were going to pay. No one takes over the good old U.S of A.
Suddenly the lights come back on. The dark figure that had been shot now looks more human now. The tear filled gaze stares endlessly into the void as the television declares that a Substation had blown a transformer. I gaze again at the endless swirl in my coffee. I lose my appetite.
Rod Serling steps out from Behind the shadows takes a hit off of his Lucky Strike and says in his understated way.
"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone."
A mentality of peace or the mentality of war can not be forced upon anyone. These attitudes come from within.
Our actions are watched and attitudes are being recorded.
If you feed your mind with war 24/7 you may want to back away quietly.
It doesn’t matter anymore whether you are for or against the war. What matters now is what you do with yourself during the conflict.
You either need to be constructive or destructive.
Which one is the healthier approach?
Organization never stands on a foundation of chaos.
Samuel Johnson one of the more interesting personalities of the 18th Century spoke of the human condition and how to spot the hypocrisy that seems to rear it’s ugly head when men gain power, or become self important in any cause:
"Affectation is to be always distinguished from hypocrisy, as being the art of counterfeiting those qualities which we might, with innocence and safety, be known to want. Thus the man, who, to carry on any fraud, or to conceal any crime, pretends to rigors of devotion and exactness of life, is guilty of hypocrisy; and his guilt is greater, as the end, for which he puts on the false appearance, is more pernicious. "—Samuel Johnson
The Peace marchers have become uberdetermined, self important, and irritating that people who were once with the "Anti-War" movement are jumping ship.
It can be compared to the "Women’s Libbers" of the 1970’s. They became so militant, burning their bras and acting foolish that many women today would tell you that they do not identify themselves with feminists.
Many though secretly want equality, but are embarrassed by the women’s movements of the past.
It takes a few zealots to ruin the group. A few zealots can tarnish everything. Fanatics can either be humorous or annoying. Sometimes the zealous anti war marchers can become everything they loathe. They hate violence but are becoming more known for it.
We see them damage property, spit on Police, break windows of businesses, block bridges and freeways and abuse freedom of speech. I see people saying that it is their right to act this way.
If they commit crimes and disrupt commerce they are breaking the law. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech.
If someone is assaulted that is a crime. If someone is killed it is murder.
How far is too far for those who preach peace?
Do they eventually become warmongers?
It is really bizarre when we go full circle. Isn’t it?
"The fate of all explanation is to close one door only to have another fly wide open. One measures a circle, beginning anywhere—Charles Fort
You see all of this type of insurgence will definitely bring about change. However it won’t bring about peace. It will bring about what I call the "Vicious Circle."
The more we know about THEM the more we become like THEM.
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.