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This is your mind on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

As Beautiful As It Should Be

I spent some time this weekend getting sucked into a parallel universe where a porn star is running for the senate. Okay, well, I did actually watch an episode of Sliders this weekend.1 Turns out that there really is a porn star running for Senate, and given that the last Republican Senator in Louisiana was relatively well-known for his (illegal) past-times, I suppose it makes sense. When you have a public official from one party that has unfortunately decided to use “family values” as his or her platform when it is clearly not a personal strength, the logical choice, when that political career comes crashing down, is to ensure that you try to get a politician elected who is equally embroiled in “questionable” activities.

Good lord! I’m being so sarcastic at this point, I can’t even sense what my position on this is from what I just wrote. So, okay, this all really does have the taste of an alternate dimension, whether it’s happening or not. Making sense of it would be essentially impossible for me, so I’m just going to ask one basic questions, after a brief disclaimer.


I really see nothing wrong with the behavior of former Senator David Vitter or “Stormy” Daniels, the adult entertainer being courted to run for the open senate position. That is to say, I have no problem with women making pornographic movies and men hiring prostitutes. It’s sex and it is ridiculous that we have decided that it’s only proper usage (usage?) is for the purpose of breeding. So, I’m not here to judge anybody’s “moral” positions vis-á-vis sex. It’s the same reason why I keep putting all these words (family values, questionable and moral) in quotes; you really do misunderstand the human psyche when you are assured that you understand a “completely correct” position on matters of morality.2

“Stormy” Daniels, as near as I can tell, is doing what she is doing because it has brought her success, notoriety and probably wealth. Do I think that she’s been kidded into believing that this is a life that will make her happy and bring meaning to her existence? Absolutely. Do I think that she has the right to peruse her own happiness in her own right? You bet. As for former Senator Vitter, the only thing that I can figure he did wrong was that he had to have lied to his wife somewhere along the way. If he didn’t, props to him for having an honest relationship. That he is a hypocrite is just not a problem for me. Our society will do better by itself when we realize that hypocrite and politician are synonymous by necessity. You will do better by a politician who is fighting for you when he or she believes in what they are fighting for, but there just aren’t that many people with integrity in our government. Many of them engage in what is convienient. Get over it. Lying is not great either, but it’s forgivable. She did see fit to forgive him, after all.

No, the irony here is that both of these individuals, on the outs with different segments of society, are on essentially the same side of an issue—that appearances are really all that matters in our culture. Fame is more important than power or wealth. Selling millions of copies of superfluous work is more important than works of care and patience. (Now a world different from what I just described actually was a Sliders episode.) The story of the porn star running for Senate and the story of the Senator’s fall from grace continue represent the blatant illusion (or mass delusion) of conformity and opinion that our media pushes on us as relevant information.3 Meanwhile, the truth, that these stories are both wildly irrelevant, goes unnoticed. There is, of course, the even greater illusion that we are not animals. If we, for a second, insisted on applying our embarrassment about our physical form to the other creatures of nature, the results would be absurd. Not really the point here, although we should try to get over it. Nakedness ain’t that big of a deal.

The Question

My question is: how much has this very common presentation of outlier-as-mainstream had an effect on our beliefs about the world? During one portion of the multiple interviews with Stormy Daniels, her own director, in a complaint about the difficulty of working with high definition video was that “not everything is as pretty as it should be [emphasis added].” I don’t think I could stress enough what a disturbing comment that should be to you. Put another way, what that comment reveals is that not only is the natural design of our world not something to be cherished, it isn’t good enough for commercialism. And what’s really funny is that one of the unsightly problems that the director notes shows up in his high definition pornos is “razor burn” which is itself an attempt to manipulate the human body into something that it is not—namely hairless.

“It’s not as pretty as it’s supposed to be.” I’m sure the maker of this remark did not realize the insidious nature of what he was saying; however, I can’t think of a more insidious comment when you apply it to the world of media at large. We have arrogantly termed our age on this Earth as the Information Age and failed, utterly, to notice that it is the Noise Age. It is the age of Bullshit and Noise and most of it is very, very pretty—of course, only because the very definition of pretty went down the drain some time ago. So, just for fun, let’s edit the Wikipedia entry on the Information Age:

“The Information Noise Age, also known commonly as the Computer Bullshit Age or Information Irrelevant Era, is an idea that the current age will be characterised by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and limited by the bandwidth of their brains, to have instant access to knowledge have limited access to irrelevant garbage that would have previously have been difficult or impossible to find will not assist them with life at all.”

  1. I’d forgotten how laughably bad the special effects of this show were. 

  2. And doubly so if an invisible man in the sky is telling you the correct position to take through a really old, often translated book. 

  3. The illusion of conformity stemming from the fact that this is what we should and do all care about. 

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