Written/Audio: Choose Life, Choose NewsCorp
by Beauchamp Art
“Desire as the ontological drive to become (potentia) seduces us into going on living. If sustained long enough, life becomes a habit. If the habit becomes self-fulfilling, life becomes addictive, which is the opposite of necessary or self-evident.” [Braidotti, 2013: 134]
Combining the ‘Choose Life‘ monologue from Trainspotting [Welsh, 1993] with a list of assets own by Newscorp. An audio study on the apathy of indecision, and how the individual may be overwhelmed by countless, pointless, senseless decisions, in order to make them compliant and accepts the consequences of the genuinely significant (political) decisions that have a direct detrimental effect on the masses.
Bombarded with choices, we realise that we have no choice; we cannot choose not to listen, we can only choose from the options presented to use, from the monopolised media, from the banal and inconsequential. As David Shenk noted, “The glut of information no longer adds to our quality of life, but instead begins to cultivate stress, confusion and even ignorance” [Shenk, 1997: 16] or as Chomsky sees it “the best defense against democracy is to distract people.” [Chomsky, 1998: 53] We have only the only illusion of choice, the choice between two sides of the same worthless coin.
Tony Benn said the biggest lie we are sold is that we have no power, this may be true, but the power citizens wield may be mostly inconsequential. Choose to change the channel, choose to look away or gawp at spectacle. Choose to vote – but the Government always gets in, as the saying goes. And as Henry Ford said, “any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”
Like consumer, like debater, and as Chomsky notes: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum […] That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate” [Chomsky, 1998: 43]. The choices presented to the bewildered herd are whether to be passive, or to appear active, trapped in the inertia of constantly renewing newsfeeds, signing unread petitions.
We spiral in silence, to apathy and inconsequentialism, as the unions of collective strength of the workers and the masses are disrupted and divided. Margaret Thatcher declared; “there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” Society is battered, and collectivisation is deamonised, football fans are portrayed as mindless hooligans. Workers who strike become hate figures or insolent greed, rather than fighting for the right to stand on their own two feet. The unemployed are shown as worthless sub-human rats – “Good-for-nothing scroungers who have no morals, no compassion, no sense of responsibility and who are incapable of feeling love or guilt” [Malone, 2008]. They become like the caricatures of the Jewish people in Germany in the 1930s, intolerable masses to be wiped out though benefit reductions.
Scapegoats for society’s deliberate failings, and blamed for their own misfortune through the malicious myth of Meritocracy which only seeks to reinforces existing hierarchies that allow for greater social inequality to be perpetuated and blamed on those worst of for the lack of merit of their person, and their unworthiness for a higher station; and vicious Social Darwinism that stands a fraction apart from outright eugenics. Talk of meritocracy is hate; hate for those of lesser standing on the grounds that where they stand is indicative of their lack of desire or ability to move.
To quote the highly academic format of the Urban Dictionary:
Meritocracy is often a fancy word for fascism. ‘Our eugenics program proclaims I am of greater merit than you and that is why I lead and you follow.’ [Paine, 2008]
Choose Meritocracy; choose climbing the social ladder with no arms or legs, choose blaming yourself for your limb deficit; choose hailing to the privileged, choose self-loathing. Choose Tabloids; choose the end of “human rights madness” [Hall, 2014]; choose the headlines that suit you; choose the paper that calls you scum. Choose NewsCorp’s reality, the phenomenology profitable hate, the world filtered, fermented, and delivered an enema. Choose the Surströmming Daily Express.
Choose the right to buy but not the right to die. Choose the image of freedom that matches the wallpaper, HD screens to watch the world burn, boarded up windows and every-lasting light-bulbs. Choose the nailed down security blanket of a personalised News, interactions selected to keep users happy and apathetic, content and quiet; choose the gag in your favourite flavour, and share photos with all your friend, with a linked attached, and another Cookie collected by the monsters of meta-data. Choose turning a blind eye to make the whole world blind, choose not ‘blinking in the face of terror’, as the TV is set to stun, a 24 hour cathode ray gun of hate and fear, now available on your computer and mobile devices.
Choose the plastic wrapped reality. Choose chewing-gum for the eyes; masticating malignant movies and masturbating to Page 3 Pornography, choose to become the dehumanised Last Man; apathetic, “with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security” [Žižek, 2015].
“Choose your future. Choose life. Why would I do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin” [Welsh, 1993].
TThe opium of the people is their choice, neo-Libertarianism uses freedom of choice as a means of control; give all the little choices to the little people, and keep all the big decisions for the big men. Choose addiction, choose choice.
What Welsh reveals through the repetition of ‘Choose’ is the total lack of choice, and the banal incapability of conforming to an easily controlled, malleable norm; a Status Quo with no substance (an not as in any recent tour of the ageing band who chose four chords and chose to make a carer from them). A completely personalised person-hood revealing a hollow self, support by strings wrapped around the bodies of the shifting crowds that swirl in a cloud of “data smog” [Shenk, 1997: 16], bits of information about interaction, button presses: the substance of binary man is a self-fulfilling, möebius woven from these meta-media connections. The organic networks of face-to-face interactions grown increasingly subsidised by digital interfacing, and users succumb to a post-Fordist perceptual labour, in which “the eye is constantly ask to process stimuli, manifests itself equally in work and leisure” [Manovich, 2001: 329]. The eye never sleeps, it is constantly searching for new choices not to have to make, wanting to blink, wanting to consume/sleep.
Choose life, choose NewsCorp; an advertising slogan waiting to happen. The choice has been made for you, you chose life.
- Braidotti, Rosi. (2013) The Posthuman. Polity Press. Cambridge. UK.
- Chomsky, Noam (1998) The Common Good. Odonian Press. USA. Cited on The Third World Traveller [Online] <http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/Common_Good_Chomsky.html> Accessed 18.3.15
- Hall, Macer. (2014) Human rights madness to end: Europe’s judges to be stopped from meddling in our affairs. Express [Online] <http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/518143/Human-rights-judges-powers-removed-promise-Tories> Accessed 18.3.15
- Malone, Carole. (2008) Force Low-Life to Work for Living Wage. News of the World. Cited in Jones, Owen. (2011) Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Paperback. Verso Books. London: UK: 22
- Manovich, Lev (2001) The Language of the New Media. MIT Press. USA
- Paine, Thomas. (2008) Meritocracy. Urban Dictionary [Online] <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meritocracy> Accessed 14.5.1015
- Shenk, David (1997) Data Smog. Harper Collins, Abacus. London: UK.
- Welsh, Irvine (1993). Trainspotting. Secker & Warburg. Scotland.
- Žižek, Slavoj (2015) Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity? New Statesman [Online] <http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2015/01/slavoj-i-ek-charlie-hebdo-massacre-are-worst-really-full-passionate-intensity> Accessed 12.1.15