The Influence of Wall Street on Pop Culture
by Alex Cosper (February 28, 2016)
At one time you would've been considered a kook or "just too old" to criticize contemporary pop culture. As part of the marketing of mass media, you're supposed to just accept what is on TV, radio and movies as what the public demands. For many years, especially in the pre-internet era, the public simply embraced all the "choices" on the screen or on the radio as "what's happening" and to question its existence put you in the same category as an old world dropout.
Now in the internet age, a significant percentage of the population now understands how structure of media industries has the potential influence to lead "the market" in specific directions. People are also becoming aware that popular movies come from a dozen companies while popular music now mostly comes from three big labels and that most of the TV networks are owned by six big conglommerates. Although mass media didn't always enjoy this amount of cartel power, since its rise over a century ago, it has mostly been shaped by large corporate entities.
Traditionally, it's been common for the public to perceive mass media as a modern form of entertainment and escape, yet most people acknowledge that it doesn't exist to educate. Yet, many people still get most of their news and information about the world from these short list of sources. All along, researchers have warned that television has a particularly hypnotic effect on the mind since it's really just a box displaying electronic dots that flicker at such a fast rate, the human mind accepts the picture as reality.
Through government deregulation, the media has become more corporate than ever. At the same time, it's become so sensationalized that people do question it. The question that researchers keep trying to study is: how does widespread repetition of messages shape cultural perception?
While the public demands that foods and medicine be tested for safety (which doesn't always happen), there hasn't really been a loud outcry as to what effects mass media has on culture. This study can get pretty deep into psychology and biology, but that may be why it hasn't become that big of deal with the masses. Many people simply do not understand science and consider it to be very boring and useless information. It's interesting that science fiction appears to be much more popular than science fact.
Another problem why an inquiry into the consequences of mass media only goes so far even in the internet age is that many people think of TV shows, movies and songs as personal preference and evidence of freedom of choice rather than an interconnected mind control scheme by corporations. People tend to tune out criticism of modern technology, thinking it has to do with generational differences, which is sometimes true.
The main concern everyone should have is that they are still allowed to freely express themselves even if their thoughts do not originate from mainstream media propaganda. Knowing how the media is structured and what the real agenda is - to validate and sell mass produced products - is essential to maintaining your sense of free choice.
If you are smart enough to know that just because a company can't afford to advertise on TV doesn't mean it has less credibility than the national brands you see at malls, then you are still in good shape. But if you believe that TV is the real world that dwarfs the importance of the physical natural world outside your door, then you need to be deprogrammed.
The real advantage to mass media is that it can spread real useful information quickly. It can also be fun, but when the main emphasis is just to condition society to be consumers of mass production, media becomes a stack of commercials with filler in between that is designed to not offend sponsors. That's why so many studies that warn against the dangers of sugar and chemicals in food are offset and marginalized by PR firms who shield clients from bad press by issuing fake research to media outlets that contradict warnings by independent researchers.
Luckily, many people are becoming their own editors and know how to weigh the credibility of sources. Seeing through national think tanks that operate as PR firms but pose as industry experts on talk shows is a strong step in deflecting the nonsense that spews from corporate-sponsored media. Another step toward sorting out fact from fiction is to understand that most content we see on TV, including news, is staged and programmed rather than "just what happens." Many times the media agenda is whatever a corporate sponsor paid for.
That's why mass media must be thought of as a big circus controlled by a small group of clowns. Some of it is entertaining but a lot of it is just to sell candy with zero nutritional value. The physical and mental consequences of this idiot box theme park mentality are usually overlooked, despite evidence that media consumption can be addictive, which limits physical activity necessary for good health. The combination of eating too much unhealthy food, lack of exercise and sensationalism of modern technology are worth investigating. Ultimately, media responsibility to public safety is a real issue.
When every major media outlet is controlled by Wall Street institutions, who are the same entities that influence laws by contributing millions of dollars to politicians and lobbyists, it is obvious that Wall Street itself shapes the choices of pop culture, whether people follow like sheep or not. It's not a conspiracy theory. It's the way the system is structured, but the rise of alternative media online is altering the structure, opening the door to an exciting "nu paradigm."