01.05.2010

The New Stolen Generation: Mass culture is waging war on our young people

Mass culture is waging war on our young people so they risk becoming the new Stolen Generation
Ron Curran sees the weight of mass culture arrayed against our young people as a defining 'battle of the souls'.

We speak about 9/11 and the international threat of terrorism, but what can be more disturbing, indeed even "terrifying", than to witness a whole generation of young people having their spirits and minds assaulted and dragged down into the swamp? A process that undermines their ability to choose, to critically assess and discriminate; that dumbs down their sense of justice, their basic humanity and their best instincts in a mindless avalanche of ultra-violent schlock-horror and a never ending onslaught of plug-in, switch-off soul destroying techno babble.

Where the "neutralising", "wasting", "fragging", "eliminating", "blowing away", "destroying" (read "killing") of another human being becomes a matter of utter indifference; where, in fact, any remnant of social fabric becomes completely unravelled and pulled apart; where souls are put on ice in a market produced and controlled by what could only be described as a kind of "corporate demonry". You take that equation far enough and you've got Grimm's Fairytales all over again, or the Pied Piper of Hamelin where all the children of the village are seduced and led away by the Piper. And it is not so far fetched. Fairytales have survived the centuries and been read over and over again, not because they are just fairytales, but because they are parables about the human condition that speak poignant truths about its morality and mythology.

Technology and all its media adjuncts has, in a way, become a kind of "cultural hypnosis" that acquires and then reprograms souls and minds. The question of independence becomes more and more remote as the identity is stripped back and literally "coded", so that it becomes part of some kind of prototype, part of a faceless monoculture. And again, it is like the fairytale about the witch and the cage, where Hansel and Gretel followed the trail of breadcrumbs into the forest from which there was no escape. So that which is innocent and holy - our creative principle, our spiritual identity - is eroded, dulled and then finally kidnapped by a kind of relentless, headlong corporate plunder. It's where big business meets science fiction in the "village of the damned" and souls are kept underground in cages in the dungeons and castles of cyberspace.

And in a society that has become increasingly over-regulated, there are often draconian consequences for any incidence of human error or deviation.

"We'll do it all for you..... we'll dress you and same you..... then we'll name, blame and game for you..... set up and construct all your heroes and villains." The dialogue and the script will all be written by the moguls of the new Hollywood and funded and directed by the ayatollahs on Wall Street. It is "cultural theft" at its most insidious because it is done subliminally and by stealth, by psychic ambush and invasion. It is the theft of a whole generation by the new "robber barons", a whole shadow world constructed and inhabited by the Darth Vaders of the corporate world.

It could be suggested then that this whole techno-bent, culturally loaded schlock market has become "the New Stolen Generation", just like the Aboriginal children who were taken away from their lands and their families in colonial and post war Australia.

In Australia, our culture, our woodlands and our waters thankfully still retain some measure of integrity, but the colonisation of our culture by the United States and other large overseas interests is of real concern. And while there are - and we can be eternally thankful for this - still masses of wonderful, brilliant, independent, clear thinking, passionate, resilient and aware young Australians, there is also a whole parallel generation of those who are being consumed, mentally and psychically, by some of the worst aspects of American mainstream materialism.

It's a materialism that ignores or excludes our essential ambiguities and what is most holy and natural in our humanity, that scrambles both our morality and our thinking and turns minds into blancmange; that glamorises destruction, drive-by shootings, high speed car chases, the degradation, stereotyping and subjugation of women, all manner of beatings, killings, burnings and bombings, mass murder, the glorification of guns and military hardware and man's mindless domination of fellow man - all through a torrent of super violence and unimaginable cruelty.

It's an age where power games and gratuitous violence are applauded and given tacit support and acknowledgement by the junk food, takeaway and franchise mentality. This kind of "bread and circuses" is the domain of the extreme dumbed down culture from the home of mass consumerism and mass murder - the gun culture capital of the world. In one sense, the obvious comparison that could be made is with Rome and its ultimate fall into the flames. Only this time, Hollywood is ready to record it all "live", for both daytime TV and history to see. One only hopes that Obama can make a difference and forestall a disaster.

The advent of the so called "post modernist era" saw the multiple fracturing of reality into crypto-grammatic manmade ones and the invention and construction of the post modernist maze, where anything was acceptable, as long as it was clever, as long as it was cute enough - just like splitting the atom and the invention of the "bomb". The genie was out of the bottle and man (who was perhaps too clever by half) now had unlimited power and, like the fisherman with the bottle, he too could wish for anything he wanted and he could do anything he wished. The power of science, the power of the media and the power to manipulate all became one - a giant shadow flew over the land.

Things became very fast, very precipitous, very clever. The technology exploded and became a tsunami of videos / dvds / macs and pcs / playstations and xbox / iphones and ipods / pad pods and voip / satellite tv, sat-nav and plasma / mobiles, sms, myspace and facebook / laptops and cctv / hard drives, microchips and motherboards...an implosion of electronica that saw also an electronic oligarchy emerge, taking technology into a new, scary and mindbending dimension, accompanied by a visual bombardment unseen before in human experience.

And along with this "virtual world", a whole new cyberspace-speak emerged with catchwords like emoticom / encrypt / flamewar / foading / fragging / mailbombs / malware / phishing / spyware / shoot 'em ups / beat 'em ups / Trojans (long dash) and the list goes on. In other words, not only a whole new cyberworld but a whole new rave. An invasion of the mass psyche on a scale beyond which even George Orwell, HG Wells or Leonardo would have ever imagined.

The consequence of this "explosion" has been that people's minds have become a playground for vested interests of all kind. Never has there been greater access to the mass culture and the kind of social engineering that goes with it. The art of "subliminal theft" has taken on a new and sinister dimension by the "take away but not give much back" culture - and has equally created the "switch-off", "plug-in" and "tune-out" generation where compassion and concern for the social fabric is seen as uncool, dumb, boring or somehow funny. But what is not "funny" is where it is taking us.

A culture dominated by a fast track, fast lane superhighway of greed and avarice, which doesn't have a social compass and forgets where it has come from and, equally, doesn't know where it is going, is a doomed culture. If the planet is to have a future, we need to reject and drive back beyond the borders that kind of thinking.

Here, in Australia, we have the resources to set an example to the rest of the world in terms of what is possible. In terms of natural resource, in elemental sun, water, wave, wind, Australia is unique. We still have an environment that can be rescued; this country could still be made into a new Garden of Eden, if we only put our minds to it. It is only our imaginations that could put a limit on what is possible.

It would be a tragedy of terrible proportions if we choose to sit idly by while the culture is dismantled, disinherited and trashed. Our core realities, our identity, our vibrant creative principle as a society and as individuals, would come under threat. If ours, or anyone's, irregularities, their dissonance and defining differences, are to be regimented or somehow coerced, then all our defining humanity is under threat. If our sensibilities and feelings are constantly repressed, twisted or negated, then at some stage it will all break loose and explode as upheaval, rage or even violence. If we do nothing ourselves anymore and forget how to use our hands and never touch the ground from which we come, but are constantly spoonfed, then we are strangers in this world. And we will soon forget completely who we are and will never create great art, nor be touched by the birdsong of new morning.

We will be without vision or any sense of history, grace or hope. We will be only a pale imitation of the culture we once were.

These are real concerns if our natural cycles, our innate moral nature, our wildness and spontaneity are tampered with, or our territory as individuals invaded or acquired. Then our unique differences and potentials, and all that implies, is lost. Acquiescence in the face of unmitigated consequence is a sin. If we are at all conscious, both as caretakers and residents of this planet, then we simply cannot allow this to happen.

At some point, we need to stand up and yell, "Stop!" Our creativity, our compassion and our wisdom are inexorably linked to our creative principle. If these are dismantled, our essential ability to evolve and grow, our sense of identity and dignity, is gone. Our sense of rhythm and movement, our sense of language and belonging, binds us to all things. To play around with and reset those clocks and mechanisms is to gamble with the world, with everything we know inherently and love.

Somehow, it has reached almost biblical proportions, like "the battle of the souls". In Michelangelo's massive epic "The Last Judgment" in the Sistine Chapel, Adam holds up the "skin of Man" and looks to God as if to ask, "Do I rescue him and show mercy or do I let him go?" (meaning drop into the inferno?) Somehow that question remains unanswered. In these apocalyptic times when whole cultures and species are disappearing at a rate of knots and the whole ecology of our planet is threatened, now more than ever, we must summon all the vision, clarity and courage we can. We can no longer afford the stupor of greed, nor tolerate the unholy machinations of those who would choose to drag us down into oblivion with them. Nor can we hold in contempt the wisdom of our natural humanity.

To deny the world of technology and all the opportunities that it affords would be naïve. But, equally, it is essential that the kind of power it offers be used responsibly and ethically for the advancement and elevation of the human spirit, not opportunistically for commercial exploitation or enslavement.

We need, as a community, to act now to rescue a whole "silent generation" from the abyss and bring them back into the sun, out of that mine where "the canary has died" and to reconnect them to earthly reality. It's time to nurture and nourish our children and bring them back into the pure light of day and into the joy of laughter and the brilliance of nature and the transcendent knowledge of the seasons.

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