Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Damn Murdoch to Hell

I'm one of the odd revolutionaries, really, because of how much I love consumer goods like Champagne and Prosecco. I used to wander into the Occupy London Economics Group discussions at Tent City University in 2011, just a few times. Enough to feel the need to mention that if production of Champagne was in any way jeopardized by this revolution, I was out.

And one thing I love is content. American content. Jon Stewart, The Simpsons, Futurama, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Girls. The latest movies with aging Will Smiths and Tom Cruises looking increasingly haggard when faced with explosions. I love them! I even have more good feelings than bad feelings about Jennifer Aniston rom-coms. Don't mess with television. My first heaven was HBO at the house where I was babysitting, stumbling on Nightshift and squirming with delight at how marvelous it was. When a show is on that I can catch every week, it gives me great happiness. The anticipation, the viewing, the discussions. Fantasy Island, Superfriends, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Greatest American Hero, LA Law, Ally McBeal, Melrose Place (respect)  Friends, Will & Grace, Scrubs.

My kids and I these days watch about one Simpsons and one Modern family a day together and I love it. If you are worried about your children and screens, sit your ass down and find a way to enjoy the screens with them. You could probably do with some relaxation. Watching television is fun! And I find out a lot about my kids discussing TV shows. We really enjoy picking what we will watch. And - this is where Sky comes in -- we love to see what movie will premiere on Fridays that we can watch during pizza night.

The content is sublime, but the market underneath is seedy and monopolistic and very depressing. I recently streamlined/upgraded our tv situation. I received notice that cathode ray tube televisions were seriously dorky. I actually received the notice in 2008 but I couldn't bring myself to upgrade.

It's like upgrading the house, which we are doing. It is expensive and time-consuming and seems symptomatic of a prevalent and destructive cultural drive toward pure consumerism at the expense of civic virtue. It's this kind of crap that really goes on in my brain and I can't put a stop to it. Luckily my great friend J told me to either fix my house or STOP COMPLAINING. Thank God for her. It was an easy choice.

So like the house, we upgraded the television. But of course content provision is a consumer service. And the painful inefficiencies of any kind of consumer service in the UK are rife and unstoppable. The process was protracted, difficult, fraught and filled with unexpected problems. I realize this is a huge first world problem, but the middle class problems matter. A monopoly controls the content I want to see. I have no choice but to buy their equipment, install their broadband, switch to their landline service in order to view their content.  Plus I have to subject myself to endless interactions to secure my rationed portion.

Installation and difficulties (my broadband shut down for five days for no reason anyone could see) were dehumanizing. This is because like in many other customer service areas, as much work as possible is being shunted onto the consumer. They make our lives harder and charge us more money for it.

And the "they" turns out to be an obscenely rich individual who bribes police officers, buys politicians, thwarts truth and is super creepy. Hence the title.

I didn't ever imagine that I would be an activist, especially an activist who said things like Damn Murdoch To Hell! But it turns out I am! Another way I would alienate people at Occupy - besides defending Champagne - was to suggest burning Tony Blair in effigy. This made more peaceful people uncomfortable. I guess I am the person who wants peace, but strong communication. Tony Blair is with and of Murdoch, blinded by money, a traitor to the people who elected him and made his wealth possible.  Somebody has to damn them. We can't sit around doing nothing. Except some well-deserved time off to watch television.

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