Be overly concerned! Watch TV! Consume! Obey! Keep unpopular opinions to yourself!
 

Spongemob.com


A sponge is something that has the capacity to absorb. (Absorption is an automatic process.) And a mob is a crowd of individuals who have been overcome by their herd instinct. In other words, a mob is a crowd of people who have become so unified in thought and behavior that they have each lost their individuality. Thus a spongemob are individuals who are in mob mode but who still continue to absorb material that caused their mob-mentality in the first place. The material I'm talking about is disseminated via mass mediums a.k.a., the Major Media. Newspaper readers, church congregations, and a television audiences are examples of spongemobs.

Media offer an experience, which emerges from the interaction of our minds with the representations, associations, and the content of the communication. Media affect our thought processes--they "give" us ideas, change our attitudes, tell us what the world is "like." These mind-changes, that is, our perceived reality, then become the framework around which we interpret the totality of experience. The intent of spongemob.com is to investigate the causal influence of mass media on the thought processes and thus behavior of individuals, to see if the individuals are being misinformed, misled, or otherwise victimized.

I've done a bit of research and found that others have already written works critical of the major media, television in particular. But I'm unsure whether any of the works present the case that the Major Media, once it has created an illusion in the public mind, start being affected by the illusion and thus exaggerate it even more. In other words, writers and producers, who are members of society and thus are affected by cultural forces too, become unwitting victims of the sensationalism that they produce for public entertainment--especially when no conflicting "sensationalism" or sound counter argument is presented.

My brother has often used the analogy of the tongue being a flame-thrower. And he has mentioned how his ex-wife always tried to associate with those who liked to fan the flames she started with her tongue. And I've pondered his analogy extensively and now see that it can be expounded upon: Emotions are the flames. Words are the hot air and fuel for the fire. And under certain conditions, like when more and more hot air is being spouted, and the flames whirl higher and higher, the phenomenon can result in a firestorm. The Inquisition was the consequence of a firestorm, so were the "Witch" Trials, Nazi Germany and McCarthy's Red Scare. Moreover though, if at any time we experience circumstances in which words, emotions, and hot air can be used to express sentiments in regard to a particular matter, but convention or taboo prevent these sentiments from being called into question, then chances are we are undergoing another firestorm.

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Recently I read a book titled Actual Innocence. A little later I read Age of Propaganda, and Chapter 25 (Guilt Sells) presented facts that reinforced some of the findings of Actual Innocence. Thus my perspective regarding the Judicial Justice System was forever altered. Accordingly, I wrote my oldest sister a letter concerning what I had learned. The very night after mailing the letter I had a nightmare:

In the dream I could see a section of woods to my right and a heavily fenced area with guard-towers and buildings to my left. Separating the two was a cleared region running straight out in front of me. Suddenly out of the woods and into the clearing stepped what seemed to be two men dressed in hunting garb and carrying shotguns. The two hunters were disoriented and were asking each other questions like, "what in tar-nations is this place?" Then one stated, "Well, gosh darn, this here be a prison. And look at all those convicts." The other said, "Heck yeah, them criminals look like they ain't suffering enough." And at that point, the two of them aimed their shotguns and started shooting prisoners through the prison's fence. I awoke and couldn't go back to sleep, because of wondering what the meaning of the dream was.

After receiving the reply from my sister, I realized my dream was my unconscious mind trying to communicate to my consciousness about how she was going to respond. She started her letter with, "Don't hand me that crap! I know! I know!!!!" And she underlined the second I know four times. Then she went on the say, "criminals have too many rights." Was she saying that should she happen to be charged with a crime, suddenly she would have too many rights? Was she saying that all her rights ought to be suspended should she happen to be arrested? Was she saying that she had been in trouble with the law before and at the time she had too many rights? Was she saying that should she happen to "offend" someone, then the offended person ought to be allowed to decide what punishment she should suffer? Well, I realize my sister had never been in serious trouble before, so I'm sure she wasn't speaking from first hand experience. Seems to me my dream had suggested that sissy was merely a typically ignorant red-neck in this instance. Nevertheless, I can't help but suspect that her ignorance came from the same place that so many other people's self-assured ignorance comes from these days, that is, the misrepresentations and illusions of the Major Media.

Crime on television is ten times more prevalent than it is in real life. The average 15-year-old has viewed more than 13,000 TV killings. Over half of TV's characters are involved in a violent confrontation each week; in reality, fewer than 1% of people in the nation are victims of criminal violence in any given year, according to FBI statistics. David Rintels, a television writer and former president of the Writers' Guild of America, summed it up best when he said, "From 8 to 11 o'clock each night, television is one long lie."

Let's look at the relationship between watching television and images of the world by looking more closely at how we picture criminal activity. In an analysis of "television criminology," Craig Haney and John Manzolati point out that crime shows dispense remarkably consistent images of both the police and criminals. For example, they found that television policemen are amazingly effective, solving almost every crime, and are absolutely infallible in one regard: The wrong person is never in jail at the end of the show. Television fosters an illusion of certainty in crime-fighting. Television criminals generally turn to crime because of psychopathology or insatiable (and unnecessary) greed. Television creates criminal stereotypes that the audience loves to hate. And television overemphasizes criminals' personal responsibility for their actions and largely ignores circumstances and situational pressures correlated with crime.

Haney and Manzolati go on to suggest that this portrayal has important social consequences. People who watch a lot of television tend to share this belief system, which affects their expectations and can cause them to take a hard-line stance when serving on juries. Heavy viewers are likely to reverse the presumption of innocence, believing that defendants must be guilty of something, otherwise they wouldn't be brought to trial.

 


The 1940 documentary, The Eternal Jew, was produced at the insistence of Joseph Goebbels, who was the head of Nazi Germany's Public Information Agency (Minister of Propaganda). Today we recognize the "documentary" as being nothing more than a disgraceful example of Anti-Semitism. At the time though, Adolph Hitler thought the "documentary" was a perfect representation of reality. Nevertheless, as much as one may despise the opinions and behavior of Hitler, he too was a product of a spongemob mentality. In other words, like the above prejudiced people who happen to serve on juries, Hitler did not develop his mindset and habits independent of the environmental circumstances to which he had been exposed. And the reason he was able to sway Germany's masses to the degree which he did was because they were part of the same spongemob.

Currently the film, The Eternal Jew has been banned for public use in Germany, with the exception of college classrooms and other academic gatherings. However exhibitors must have formal education in "media science and the history of the Holocaust". Yet, in this country The Public are bombarded constantly with images that pervert reality as bad as The Eternal Jew did, and the great majority of them don't have degrees in media science nor have they been educated on the impact of media on the human mind. Is Germany wrong for disallowing the General Public to view The Eternal Jew while US corporations are right in bombarding the General Public with images that pervert reality? What is the difference?

More questions and answers to come...