It seems that in this ever-expanding multi-verse of media availability, images of death, destruction and disaster prevail. Every time we turn on the television, open up an internet browser, or turn on a radio, there is always some “Breaking News Alert” which evokes a sense of urgency from the audience. In reality however, it is an over-sensationalized headline manufactured for the purpose of driving network ratings and creating a cult like devotion for the talking head which read or brought it to you first. As a culture we engage in some perverse form of intellectual schadenfruede, constantly looking for “the next fix” or “the next big score” fulfilling our seemingly innate drive to “get off” on the misery and misfortune of others while releasing our own sardonic twist on the tissue that is Facebook, Twitter, etc. In a sense every time we wake our monitors from their slumber and clatter away on the keyboard, querying Google for our propaganda of choice, we engage in a perverse voyeurism no different from the trench coated man with the flipped up collar and aviator shades walking into the private viewing booth at the adult cinema. We all know what he is really there for, we all do the same, the only difference between us and that shadowy figure is our floors at home aren’t necessarily as sticky.
In the private viewing booths of the American home, cable news wriggles and writhes up and down the pole of our collective consciousness distilling complex political situations into 30 second soundbites, bookended by bouts of sensationalist rhetoric and disaster porn, flashing images of bombings, earthquakes and cataclysmic disasters all in the name of journalism. Gone are the days when we could trust an anchorman or journalist to bring us the cold hard story. Now when we consume their product, we see their brand, we see the image that the network wants us to see. The “news” establishment no longer represents a pillar of objectivity and rational discourse, from Matt Drudge’s playful linking of headlines, to slogans such as “Fair and Balanced” and “No Spin Zone,” even to branding your name with 360, there is no diametric opposition to the perversion and distortion of jouissance, no pleasure command to override our quest for consuming the nothingness of infotainment. The new “24hr news cycle” has ensured that we have an endless supply of this “nothingness,” this corporate filth filling our airwaves, and the question remains….”Why”? Why do we continue to placate the establishment, to consume their tripe, and regurgitate it back as if it were our own original thought- for the very same reasons we drink Caffeine Free Diet Coke. The most dangerous philosopher in the west, Slovaj Zizek explains this concept succinctly in this excerpt from his lecture, The Superego and the Act:
Zizek: I want to begin with Coca-cola. It’s no surprise that Coca-cola was first introduced as a medicine. Its strange taste seems to provide no particular satisfaction. It is not directly pleasing, however, it is as such, as transcending any use–value, like water, beer or wine, which definitely do quench our thirst, that Coke functions as the direct embodiment of “IT”, the pure surplue of enjoyment over standard satisfactions. It is the mysterious and elusive X we are all after in our compulsive consumption. The unexpected result of this is not that, since Coke doesn’t satisfy any concrete need we drink it only as supplement, after some other drink has satisfied our substantial need — it is rather this very superfluous character that makes our thirst for Coke all the more insatiable. Coke has the paradoxical quality that the more you drink it, the more you get thirsty. So, when the slogan for Coke was “Coke is it!”, we should see in it some ambuigity — it’s “it” precisely insofar as it’s never IT, precisely insofar as every consumption opens up the desire for more. The paradox is thus that Coke is not an ordinary commodity, but a commodity whose very peculiar use–value itself is already a direct embodiment of the auratic, ineffable surplus. This process is brought to its conclusion in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke. We drink a drink for two reasons: for its nutritional value and for its taste. In the case of caffeine–free diet Coke, its nutritional value is suspended and the caffeine as the key ingredient of its taste is also taken away. All that remains is pure semblance, an artificial promise of a substance which never materialized. Is it not that in the case of caffeine–free diet Coke that we almost literally drink nothing in the guise of something?
So what drives us, what perpetuates this mass intellectual schadenfruede and subsequent masturbatorial release on the tissue of Facebook, Twitter etc.- the nothingness of media, viewing nothing under the guise of something. The lack of a rational discourse diffuses our drive to logically think for ourselves, suspends our drive to question the message and story we are being presented with; we enjoy infotainment simply because we don’t have to think. In the end without the pleasure that is derived from personal inquiry, we are nothing more than slaves to the Caffeine Free Diet Coke of the media, constantly pursing the easy way to engage the world around us. This is our reality (LINK NSFW), but we don’t have to accept it.
Think, Question, and Learn, stop drinking the Caffeine Free Diet Coke of Corporate Media.