Weapons of mass distraction
Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience's attention.
After struggling for more than twenty years to come to terms with its new economic structure and the rise of television, the film industry is regarded by many analysts as now being one of the most lucrative and powerful industries. Douglas Gomery argues that "the economics of the Hollywood motion picture studios prospered as never before" (1998, p. 201), and that "the 1980s and 1990s stand as the era when Hollywood achieved an international influence and mass entertainment superiority unparalleled in its history" (1993, p. 267).
Advertisers, when they talk about strategy, talk about "breaking through the clutter." The clutter is, of course, made up of all the efforts of all other advertisers to "break through the clutter." This ironic effort by advertisers defines the central feature of our entertainment world, a world in which Americans spend more on leisure time pursuits than on food.
The generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.
Big money and big media have coupled to create a 'Disney World' of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, just as the volume is being turned up. The result is a public certainly more entertained, but less informed and personally involved than they should be.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.
A blind telephone survey of over 1,000 Americans, carried out by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, found that more Americans could identify more members of the Simpsons cartoon family than first amendment rights.