The Idol Disease

A recent post touched upon the power of television advertising. The industry analyzes and divides viewers into demographic categories based on age, race, economic class, gender, and more. People think the entertainment is the product, and the ads are only momentary annoyances. The fact is, the viewers are the product, and there is not a moment when the tube is not selling. The viewers are not free; they are products created by media so that their attention, the time in their lives, can be subdivided and sold for money to advertisers. The genius of our culture is this: Market trumps everything. Market absorbs everything. Market turns everything to Market’s use. Market defines us to ourselves in lockstep with what we buy. Some of the dynamics behind this are technological. After all, we still do not have a very good understanding of the effects of television in our culture. We are just now able to look back the length of a generation.

The personal-psychological cost of this transaction—or to say it straight out, its spiritually destructive effect—is hidden from view. It takes its toll from all of us whether we watch or not. Whatever is broadcast becomes the reality, and whoever does not see him or herself there is lost to view, in effect dehumanized.

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