How does this work?
What is news?
What is important?
What is offensive and ends as a teachable moment?
In a story arc of a few episodes, Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm touched what for anyone else would have been an electrified third rail – Jews, Arabs, Israel, and sex.
Larry, having prevented a friend from entering a Palestinian owned restaurant while wearing a yarmulke, meets a Palestinian woman and begins a torrid affair but, this being Curb, it catapults itself off the high-dive into the deep end of the pool and we get this:
And one might well ask, where was the outrage? Isn’t there always outrage? Shouldn’t this have generated protests and calls for the show to be cancelled and for David to make a public apology? Shouldn’t this have landed on the president’s desk and shouldn’t the regime have been asked repeatedly for a comment by the media?
Where was that teachable moment?
The answer of course is that no one in the corporate media circus wanted to get into a pissing contest with David and as a result, the issue was not an issue and no one of any media weight said a damn thing about it.
Which is not to say they should have or that the episode wasn’t funny, brilliant, provocative and a welcome relief from the usual racist neo-fascist imperialist turd-fest we are always subjected to when people start vomiting opinions about Jews, Arabs and sex – and use their control of the narrative not to advance ephemera like peace or justice but, to keep themselves employed and employed specifically as the people who control the narrative.
And because the people in charge of the narrative, and the corporations who own them, knew they would not stand a chance in an argument with Larry David, and knew he would make them look foolish and would be likely to humiliate them by exposing their mendacity, and corruption, we were presented instead with a legitimate narrative alternative that showed us the wide spectrum of human emotion and the nuanced shades of grey in which most people live.
But that, is not the issue. What concerns us here is the ability of the vortex machine to turn the screws on, or off; their ability to manipulate the crowd into a frenzy or even an imitation of a frenzy then “report” on the frenzy as if it were a spontaneous combustion or a freak accident and they just happen to have been close at hand with a set, cameras, graphics, music, and a panel of animatronic dolls dressed up like actual journalists.
To call it Orwellian, to describe it as a dystopian corporate spin machine operating in the service of a nexus between piratical investors, shadow-keepers with sketchy connections to the more robust and aggressive three letter agencies and organized crime, to label it as a cesspool of coke-addled, prescription medicated gym-fascists and bulimic barbie dolls (of both sexes) and public relations hacks with the moral certainty of a Borg drone, is too easy. And not only misses the point, it falls again, into the echo chamber of the corporatists.
Like a blow-up doll weighted at the base, that takes a punch and then rises again, the corprotocracy has factored in criticism – it long ago paid off the universities with tenure and book deals and irrelevancy, it owns the architecture that houses the media, it buys sells and trades pols like baseball cards, and it has chips down on black and red so regardless of where the ball lands, they win.
And so we arrive at the the phenomenon of Gal Gadot.
Former Miss Israel and current Wonder Woman.
By most criteria, a stunningly beautiful
woman person who, in any other context – say as a writer, or entrepreneur, scientist or politician – would have been recontextualized and placed in a narrative she could not control – labeled as an agent of colonization, imperialism, Apartheid; a Zionist version of some (turn the world upside down) Leni Riefenstahl-esque ideal of power and beauty committed to the slow-motion liquidation of the oppressed.
Instead, despite a few muted half-assed attempts to link her to the usual suspects within the ossified sham-debate about the Middle East, she has been cast as an avatar of new-wave feminism. Beauty, intelligence, legs that go on for weeks, the ability to defeat evil, protect the good, and look ten different kinds of sexy while doing it.
But where are the outraged pundits? Where are the intellectuals writing elegant articles in the London Review of Books that begin with the Dreyfus Affair and somehow end with Gaza? Where are the talking heads lathered into incoherence for the benefit of advertisers?
Again, this is not to say we miss them and feel a void has opened without them. We ask because the target is not the lies generated by the Outrage Machine but instead, the target is the dog that has not barked which is itself a gear and a cog inside the machine.
The Outrage Machine is a Rube Goldberg contraption that exists for the benefit of its investors and its operators and if they thought there was money to be made in picking a fight about sex and chickens they would do it and if they thought there was money to be made by burning a movie at the cyber stake and placing an actor on a virtual cattle car and sending her off to a camp where she was free to make a living on the margins of fame, it would be done.
Remember this the next time you turn on your computer or your television and someone starts screaming at you about chickens and sex or Muslims, Jews and terror and your safety.