What’s the point of this topic? I’ve got to be kidding, right? No, I’m actually not, so please humor me – I’m going somewhere serious with this. If the Kardashians aren’t part of a government plot to keep us distracted, then what else could their reason for existing be?
Their stories are all over the Internet. It’s almost impossible to open up a search page anywhere that doesn’t have one or more daily updates on what at least one of the Kardashian clan is doing. The magazine racks at the grocery store will have you looking at all things Kardashian even if you’re trying to escape it. And the entertainment “news” programs – let’s just say that there would be a lot of layoffs if the Kardashian’s ever disappeared.
A Martian would think that the Kardashians are somehow integral to the existence of the human race. And if we’re completely honest about the degree of coverage that they receive from the media, that would hardly be a ridiculous conclusion.
So what’s the deal with the Kardashian clan, or maybe more particular, with the mainstream media that’s so certain that we can’t live without them?
No One Admits Paying Attention to the Kardashians But…
I don’t know what goes on in your world, but in mine no one follows the Kardashian’s. Not the news media stories, and not Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Or at least they don’t admit to following them.
I’ve actually attempted to watch a little bit of the show on a couple of occasions, just to see what all the fuss is about. I never made it past two or three minutes. The show is just completely devoid of anything remotely meaningful or relevant. It seems as if the Kardashians are yet another clan who’s best known claim to fame is that they are famous for being famous. After all, no one even questions why they’re famous anymore, it’s just a given – like air and water.
In the meantime, I can care less what any of them do. And they always seem to be doing something – at least if you can believe anything that you hear about them in the media.
It’s getting hard not to believe that there’s something more substantial playing out here.
A Different Take on the Bruce/Caitlin Change-Over
I’m risking violating some unwritten rule of political correctness in taking a radically different view on this Bruce-to-Caitlin Jenner conversion. I know, I know, everyone is falling all over themselves to declare what a hero Jenner is for making the change. But permit me – I have a different take on this. Completely.
Here’s the scenario…the Kardashians are a family dominated by females. The girls – and their mom, the irrepressible Kris – gather all the headlines and attention. And the few guys in the Kardashian universe? Do you remember the character of Bosley on Charlie’s Angels? He was kind of there, mostly driving the car and working behind the scenes, while the three Angels got all the attention, both on and off screen. That’s basically what men are in the Kardashian world. In the background, and completely replaceable.
So here’s Bruce, former Olympic athlete – once proclaimed to be the greatest athlete on the planet – and he’s now a bit part player with the Kardashians. One gets the feeling that that was his position both in the media spotlight, and in real life. From what I can see, he was a hollowed out shell of a man in a household dominated by women.
And not just women, but women best known for outrageous behavior. So how does Bruce respond?
By becoming one of them. One of the girls. He leads off by doing something that’s even more outrageous than anything they’ve ever done – he changes his gender.
Not only does he steal the headlines and attention, he now has his own reality show I Am Cait. That alone should make us suspicious.
Does anyone else see a pattern here? I’m not even sure that Bruce engineers this idea on his own. I’m not at all certain that it’s not part of the plot of the Kardashian saga dreamed up either by the Kardashians themselves, or the corporate suits who are looking to milk the last drop of fame and cash out of the clan.
And it’s working. Not only is Bruce/Caitlin back in the media’s good graces, but the Kardashians seem to be more famous than ever.
Is there something deeper at work here?
We’ll Get the Kardashians Whether We Want Them or Not
Even if you have zero interest in the Kardashians, you’re going to get them anyway. The degree of coverage that this family receives defies logic. These days in America, it doesn’t seem as if too many people are collectively interested in any one topic, at least not for any length of time. Yet here we have this low/no talent family, parading their dysfunction for all to see, as if they are one of the central concerns of the average American household.
The media seem convinced that we only want more of the Kardashians. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t think that’s even a little bit true. I think we’re being force-fed.
Let me get my central point.
Bread and Circuses – The Government Plot Tie-in
We have serious problems in the US and in the world, problems so serious that no politician even wants to talk about them. Distraction is the order of the day. We have 24/7 entertainment, sports, political scandals and the Kardashians. TV is filled up with “reality programs” that most of us know are not even a little bit real.
The news media have blended news with entertainment (shock value and controversy) to create an endless flow of infotainment. We can’t know if what we’re hearing on the six o’clock news is truly newsworthy, or just another cheap effort to get our attention.
All of it is the perfect form of distraction to keep us from focusing on what really troubles us. Both government spending and entertainment are rising in response to those troubles. As the Roman Empire passed its peak, this combination was referred to as bread and circuses, a simultaneous effort to keep the people fed and entertained so that they wouldn’t rise up in revolt.
Bread and circuses – that can’t happen today – this is America, and we’re too sophisticated for that!
I wouldn’t bet on that.
The Potential Motivation for the Propaganda Blitz
I’m daring to suggest that yes, we do have a propaganda machine here in America, and it’s even more obvious because it’s so subtle. We live in the information age, and yet the media bombards us with low budget, low quality distractions, like the Kardashians. And they do it with an enthusiasm that’s impossible rationalize.
What’s the motivation for propaganda?
How about falling living standards? The decline of real jobs? The student loan debt fiasco? Endless foreign wars? A national security state that has been turned on the citizenry? An exploding prison population? The gutting of the middle class? Deficit spending that continues even six years into an economic recovery? Underfunded pensions on a massive scale?
We could go on and on. We seem to be on the verge of a tipping point. But none of those real issues are covered except in short soundbites. But sports, entertainment, and especially outrageousness, steals the media spotlight (hence the Caitlin Jenner “event” elevates the Kardashians to even greater heights of media acclaim).
When real issues move into public attention, they are either spun in a simple us-vs.-them narrative, or they’re given relatively little attention. The recent episodes of the killing of unarmed African Americans by police is an example. Have you noticed how the media spin it as yet another example of a black-vs.-white conflict?
Public opinion might change significantly if instead the media took a more thoughtful approach, and presented it as police killing unarmed Americans. We could all feel that. But the media does black-vs.-white because that’s what they’ve always done, and it’s always worked in the past. The end result: no change in the status quo. We come away angry with our fellow citizens, but never with the state or the media. Do you see the pattern?
And speaking of state and media…
NEWSFLASH: The Mainstream Media Is CONTROLLED
I realize that since the media seems so diverse, at least superficially, that most people can’t grasp the possibility that it might be controlled. But let me set the stage.
90% of US media is controlled by just 6 conglomerates. The six are GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time-Warner and CBS. There’s a 90% chance that your beloved local TV and radio stations, as well as your local newspaper (daily and weekly), are owned by one of these six conglomerates. This helps to explain the duplication of both news topics and program content.
Ownership means that all of these local media outlets are not independent. They take their marching orders from corporate headquarters. If you’ve ever worked in a large corporation then you understand this hierarchy.
But let’s focus in on the conglomerates themselves. When you get to be that big, your relationship with the federal government gets very cozy. And it has to be. For starters, you need broadcast licenses, and those are granted or renewed by the state. Second, in order to buy up local media outlets, you have to get more government approval. Apparently, the conglomerates get that approval as needed.
Further, it is no longer possible to get that big in the modern world without government complicity – the federal government is simply too powerful to be out-maneuvered. Ironically, we count on government to reign in conglomerates, yet the conglomerates continue to grow and to buy up small competitors. It’s obvious that they aren’t being restrained in any ways that are anything more than cosmetic.
It’s highly likely that the relationship between the big media conglomerates and the federal government is reciprocal. That’s not a new idea – it’s acknowledged to be happening with banks, oil companies and defense contractors. The media conglomerates get their broadcast licenses and approvals to buy small competitors, very likely in exchange for government-friendly programming. That means that if the government wants the population distracted, then the media will provide the distraction.
The media conglomerates comply to ensure that their broadcast licenses and acquisitions will continue to get favorable treatment. As the saying goes politics makes strange bedfellows. The founding fathers instituted a free press because they believed that it would serve as a watchdog to prevent government excesses. But they couldn’t have imagined the development of broadcast licenses and corporate takeovers that would put the press and the state in the same bed together.
I’m suggesting that the Kardashians could be part of a bigger picture government bread and circuses scheme. At the same time, I’m not implying that the US government is subsidizing the program and media coverage (though that’s hardly far-fetched, since the government subsidizes enormous swaths of the population and economy). But the Kardashians represent the perfect metaphor for the entire sports, entertainment, and non-news news program tone for the general programming, as well as specific news media spins on certain significant news events.
The Other Possibility: We Really Have Sunk THAT Low as a People
I realize that many people would consider a government plot to be an absurd explanation for the forced popularity of the Kardashians. But there is another explanation that is even darker, and completely without remedy. The national consciousness is finally dumbed down to the point that we collectively can no longer perceive or tolerate the truth, and prefer to live in a cesspool of distraction.
That may be a more reasonable explanation for the exaggerated popularity of the Kardashians. But I can’t accept it out of hand the way so many people do, because there is a clear pattern of consolidation within the mainstream media, in concert with the dumbing down of programming, mixed in with predictable news format narratives on complex real-world events.
From where I sit, it all seems too intentional, as if orchestrated at a higher level.
Take Control of Your Soul By Tuning It All Out
If I’m right about either of these explanations, it seems that our response needs to be to tune it all out. That includes the “news” media. If it is propaganda, then we’re being manipulated. And if it isn’t propaganda, then we’re allowing ourselves to be dumbed down.
I’m feeling myself to be increasingly out of touch with the predominant media and news media. Along the way, the less time I spend tuning into it, the more absurd it becomes on those increasingly rare episodes when I do.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the media is part of a government plot to keep us distracted? Or do you think that our culture really has sunk that low? How else can we explain a phenomenon like the Kardashians, who are so central to the predominant culture, despite the fact that no one seems to really care about them?