Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Old Glory Holes

Militarist displays at the Super Bowl are nothing new. Since 1991 in Tampa, when the US finally shook off the Vietnam Syndrome (celebrated by George the First Bush) by pounding Iraq to near-unanimous national applause, corporate America's biggest PR stage has been used to forge obedience to the war state. The 9/11 attacks pumped fresh plasma into the mix, and now we must bow to those in camouflage, not only at the Super Bowl, but at practically every major sporting event. Without them, we are told, the barbarians will trash our toys and turn our strip malls into mosques and beheading parlors.

America has long flirted with and at times personified authoritarian tendencies. But now it's institutionalized. What's more, it's lost its sheen. Whenever I debated reactionaries or spoke to dopey libs about corporate culture, I always gave our propaganda system a genuine thumbs up. Hitler, Stalin, Mao were Mr. Magoos compared to our heavily researched, tested, and financed fabric of lies and fables. Making consumers deeply believe that not only were they the freest people on the planet, but that they couldn't get any freer was genius. I mean, who invented the invisible fence? Keeping them doped with religion, sex and TV was only the beginning. As technology advanced, so too systems of control and surveillance.

Like so much else, the golden age of American propaganda has passed. Now we're directly, crudely told to obey our masters and their military wing. Instead of shaking off the cobwebs and forging some kind of resistance, most Americans go meekly along, hoping not to lose their jobs or their homes. Sophisticated lies aren't needed anymore -- consumers are trapped and show no signs of stirring. This saves the PR industry billions. Wave a big flag, push a few Afghan vets into view, have fighter jets streak overhead, and compliance is pretty much guaranteed.

This is why Christina Aguilera's National Anthem fuck up was beautiful to see. It would have been sweeter had Aguilera intentionally flubbed the lyrics, but she's no celebrity class traitor. Aguilera simply forgot the words, which sent reactionaries into predictable fits. Yet what Aguilera did was thoroughly American.

Not knowing the words to the National Anthem is minor. A great number of Americans have no knowledge of their country's history, much less the song that celebrates it, but this ignorance doesn't stop them from humping Old Glory. Indeed, it fuels nationalist frenzies. Less intelligence is more. Next year have the Anthem sung by CGI dogs with celebrity voices, one of whom should be Christina Aguilera. After all, Americans are a forgiving people.