Category Archives: Mediated Messages

Sterling, Castile, and Videodrome

Hello Friends.

Today I saw two posts on my Facebook newsfeed showing two brutal and graphic videos of police shootings. Not like a TV show about police shooting people. These were real life videos showing the police shooting people.

Let’s take a moment of silence and really let this sink in.

Now. A Google search for the 1983 David Cronenberg film Videodrome yields the following description:

As the president of a trashy TV channel, Max Renn (James Woods) is desperate for new programming to attract viewers. When he happens upon “Videodrome,” a TV show dedicated to gratuitous torture and punishment, Max sees a potential hit and broadcasts the show on his channel.

For those who are unfamiliar with the film (spoiler alert), the ‘videodrome signal’ turns out to be a live feed of ‘Snuff tv’ that, when watched, creates a tumour-like form which functions as a new organ within the brain of the viewer.

For those unfamiliar with the mechanics of radio and television broadcasting- incidentally, the basic function of these mediums are actually modeled after, you guessed it, the Brain. They receive and transmit information from light and sound frequencies. Our consciousness- and to take it a step further, our reality – is a broadcast featuring the information transmitted from whatever signals – sensory input, psychic influence; light and sound vibrations at various frequencies, essentially – we choose to ‘tune in’ to.

In the film, the protagonist Max tunes in to these signals of murder and rape and torture, and lo! He becomes what he thinks about. He becomes violent and starts killing people.

Before I go any further, I’ll add this disclaimer: Some might assert that I am expressing here a particular belief system. To which I will respond: You may choose to believe whatever you would like to believe, but as for what I have stated thus far and will state from here on- in the immortal words of Ron Burgandy- “It’s Science.”

With that out of the way, let’s buckle up here because things may get a bit bumpy.

First picture, if you will, a DVD.

It is a circular, plastic, shiny disc that, when held in the light, reflects the colour spectrum, and contains within it digital data. The definition from Wikipedia – “a digital optical storage format.. that can store any kind of digital data.”

Okay. And what are data again? – “the quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, being stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media”

Bare with me here this is going somewhere. What about Optics?

The optics of the eye

  1. The lens

          Although the lenses of the eye are not simple spherical lenses, they.. form a real, inverted image on the retina – the optically sensitive screen that is located at the back of the eye.

“The television screen has become the retina of the mind’s eye” is a quote from Videodrome which helps tie this all together.

Since the purpose of this piece of writing is not really about demonstrating the science and is more about illustrating its effect, I think I’ll stop there. but I mean.. optics, screen, lens, image.. you get the idea.

Our brain contains the antenna, and in our eyes are both the camera and the screen. And again, just like on TV, what we broadcast through our own eyes are images formed by the electrical signals tuned into by our brains. Period.

So what does all this mean, exactly?

It means we create our own reality. Or, stated another way, it means that what we see before our eyes is basically just a series of ‘television’ programs. “Life is a series of images that change as they repeat themselves.”

It means that what happens to Max when he tunes in to the videodrome signals is exactly what happens to us when we tune into images of violence and torture.

When I see those two posts on Facebook today, all I see is Snuff TV. Videodrome for real. When I chose to play one of the videos, I felt this incredible destructive force rush through me, almost like the death I was watching was echoing within me.

Not almost. It was. Maybe the next post will be about how death itself is the cumulative effect of our individual destructive emotions. And the one after that about how war and massacres and police brutality are the effect of our collective destructive thoughts and emotions. In that one we’ll talk about “emotional weather.”

Here, we’ll leave it at this: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.. and there will be no evil. Remember all that about how we create our own reality and how our brains are just like tv’s and we broadcast the images before our eyes which are formed from the signals we tune into.. Stop watching violence. Stop thinking about it. Stop talking about it. “Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society, can remove this sickness from our soul.”

But it doesn’t matter, because, It’s just a ride!


Every Day Uncertainty

The other day I heard an excellent layman’s definition of the Uncertainty Principle. It fascinated me. I think there are few things more beautiful than something complex put simply. “Observing a thing changes it.” That’s it. That’s the Uncertainty Principle. Do you see that definition anywhere on Wikipedia?

The Uncertainty Principle is one of the primary concepts in Quantum Theory. As a whole, Quantum Theory actually takes the idea of uncertainty one step further: it says that observing a thing causes it to be there in the first place.  Spooky, huh? Yep, that’s what Einstein thought too. “Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it….We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position…. We ourselves produce the results of measurements.” Applications of this infamous ‘theory’ are responsible for a great deal of modern technology, up to 1/3 or more of our economy, yet we are still nearly as uncertain about it all as Einstein. Neils Bohr, who you might remember from junior high school chemistry class for the “Bohr Model” of the Atom, said that “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

I was obsessed with Quantum everything a few years ago, and moved on because all I could find to read on it was scientific nonsense. It was impossible to understand.

“Observing a thing changes it” is something I can get my head around. Such a common definition for this phenomenon is important because it is such a common thing.

For instance: I moved into a new apartment recently. It’s winter time and the heat needs to be on, though for some reason cranking up the thermostat wasn’t doing any good. When my pipes froze and suddenly there was no water in the kitchen I called the Superintendent. Walking in the door, he instantly noticed the apartment was cold, and checked the vents. Surely enough there was no heat. Well that explains why the apartment was so cold, duh… But wait. After seeing the vents not working he left to go buy a couple of heaters for me. In the mean time I did nothing. When he returned with the heaters, I instinctively put my hand to the vent and a funny thing happened: Heat. Just like that, the vent was hot. When I said it was working he stopped, checked for himself, and was visibly confused when I said nothing. Being his first time in the unit, for all my superintendent knew the heat had been working before and it just cut out for a while. One of those things, oh well. I on the other hand had been tolerating the cold for weeks, never thought to check the vents, now wondering what happened.

Observing a thing changes it. Hmm…   **Credit for the definition goes to Aaron Sorkin– it appeared on an episode of the West Wing.

Outrage over Japanese Boyband’s Nazi-like Costumes Exposes Hypocrisy Regarding Jewish and Islamic Sensitivities

A top headline across western media outlets today makes public an apology by Sony Music over a Japanese boyband’s MTV appearance wearing ‘Nazi-style’ uniforms.

The Guardian UK reports:

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors anti-semitic activities, expressed “shock and dismay” at the band’s appearance and urged them to apologize to its fans and the victims of Nazism.

“There is no excuse for such an outrage”, said rabbi Abraham Cooper, the centre’s associate dean, in a written protest to the band’s management company Sony Music Artists, MTV Japan and the Japanese entertainment group Avex.

The Guardian’s article along with numerous similar stories from the BBC, WSJ, CNN, and so on report the same thing. The band wore the uniforms, The Jewish group was outraged, Sony apologized, and the more in-depth articles go on to discuss the lack of education in Japan of Nazi atrocities. A certain few also noted that the band is well known for its outlandish attire, resembling for example Japanese school uniforms and motorcycle gangs.

To begin, this outrage is being expressed by a Jewish organization whose activities include international policing of Anti-Semitic activities. Of course in this context, the ‘Anti-Semitic’ umbrella apparently includes any Nazi likeness that isn’t accompanied by some sort of inherent and obvious condemnation. The band’s appearance did not include any pro-Nazi or Anti-Semitic comments, gestures, or otherwise suggestive activities, they simply appeared publicly wearing uniforms that resembled those worn by the SS. So, the underlying message here seems to be that if you are not publicly denouncing Nazis, than any other reference is strictly prohibited under the watchful eye and enforcement of organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

It is certainly understandable that any Jewish person or organization would consider a band wearing Nazi-like uniforms on television in poor taste. While “too soon?” is a common disclaimer following jokes about something unfortunate or horrific, by this point it is pretty clear that there is no statute of limitations for anything Nazi related, or at least anything that is not strongly anti-Nazi. When an organization in LA is influencing something on Japanese TV more than 60 years later, that’s saying something.

But what exactly is this saying? It sounds a lot like: “We will fight to ideologically cleanse the world of any notion or sentiment that is not Anti-Nazi.” In other words, you will hate Nazis or else!

The purpose of this article is not to argue that people should or should not hate Nazi’s, it is not to support anyone dawning Nazi-like insignia, nor is it to denounce this Jewish organization for being so damn sensitive.

The purpose of this article is to remind people of recent controversy involving the current Jewish adversary, Islam, and Western media depictions of their Prophet Mohammed.  Most will likely recall South Park’s insistence on portraying Mohammed’s image, and despite ‘failing’ to do so, they certainly succeeded in spreading the message that they couldn’t possibly show the image under threat of Islamic terrorists. The resulting public opinion was of course to condemn or at least marginalize Muslim sensitivity towards mocking their prophet, and to further propagate the radical fascist Islamic caricature. This reaction was influenced by Western Media, which alongside reporting on Islamic reaction made this an issue of Freedom of Expression. By searching Google news archives, one will find numerous articles presenting a Secular West vs. (Fascist) Middle East debate. In the weeks that followed, many stories turned up about FBI stings on terrorist cells plotting to kill South Park creators, arrests and imprisonment of radicals, and the like. What you will not find, is articles denouncing South Park for being so insistent on mocking the Sacred prophet of Islam and further inciting hostile relations between the Western and Arab worlds.

And by no means is South Park the sole perpetrator.  In 2005 a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten published cartoon depictions of Mohammed that outraged the growing Muslim population of Denmark, and then were re-published in Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to further propagate this provocation. Shortly thereafter, an Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli wore a t-shirt with one of these mages on Italian State television. The Prime Minister of Denmark eventually issued an apology statement, but not without citing Freedom of Expression. Italy has since refused to recognize Islam as a religion.

In the case of the Japanese boy-band, they simply wore uniforms resembling those worn by Nazis with no ideological reference or otherwise suggestive opinion. In the case of South Park and other Mohammed related cartoons, there is an obviously mocking connotation that approaches arguably closer to Anti-Islam than wearing a Nazi costume approaches Anti-Semitism, or at the very least they are equal. The reaction of Jewish groups is reported and supported as righteous humanitarianism, while the Islamic reaction was criticized over censorship issues and dressed up with stories of terrorism.

In both cases there is a clear ideological imposition: “Don’t portray a Nazi because that is wrong,” and “Don’t portray Mohammed because fascist terrorists will kill you.” If you are insensitive towards Jews, don’t do it because you are wrong. If you are insensitive towards Muslims, don’t do it because they are wrong.

What would happen if the BBC reported something like “Jewish outrage over Nazi image provokes heated debate over Freedom of Expression?” it is almost laughable to think the BBC, Wall Street Journal, or any other prominent Western media outlet would ever report such a thing. And even if they or a more obscure local or independent news source did so, the writer and Editor would certainly fall under criticism and accusations of Anti-Semitism from groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and quite possibly end up losing their reputations and jobs.

What we are seeing here is an inequity with regard to Jewish and Islamic sensitivities, and what is in fact an extremely pro-Jewish, anti-Islam public opinion influenced by media portrayals, reporting, and surely a variety of other interests.