I could spend some more time amusing myself with the wordplay surrounding the term "Mass Media." One alternative would have me going off about how the future, where we find ourselves living, provides an excellent opportunity for the Catholic Church to reach its many antennae, as global communication continues to expand. I might also switch a vowel and talk about the "mess" that media has made over the years. Instead, I will speak directly to the volume and displacement created by all of this noise.
My wife woke up the other day wondering when conformity became such a force in our culture. We both rather abruptly jumped on the innovation of television as the chief cause of the homogenization of everything we do and say. Radio was a great first step, but it still involved a lot of that singular talent: imagination. Once you could put moving pictures with that sound, there was no question about what was the right way to be. How to comb your hair. How to dress. How to dance. It's got a good, beat, and you can dance to it. I give it a seventy-eight.
Dick Clark is not to blame, but he certainly rode a wave of communication that benefited greatly for its passive ability to creep into households across America. There was a time when movie stars were the epitome of style and grace, but there was a conscious choice about the theater you chose to go into. Once you turned on the cathode ray tube, it stayed on with all kinds of interesting sounds and sights pouring into living rooms day and night. Indoctrination. My wife pointed out the amusing irony that this came about right about the time of the Red Scare, when communism and conformity was the terrifying consequence of not being on the alert for such things. Broadcast nightly, live from the halls of Congress.
AM radio with those great big transmitters blasting pop music into the ears of children with transistor radios made them all want to sing like Elvis. Or the Beatles. Dance like Chubby Checker. Or Adam West. Maybe that's going a little far, but I can blame Adam West for the decades it took for Batman to become cool again. Of course, I needed mass media to confirm this for me: a little thing called "Al Gore's Internet." Nowadays, we aren't content to have the occasional broadcast transmission trickle through our aerials on a need to know basis. We have cables and satellite dishes to scoop up all that content and dump it on us like an information waterfall. When we go outside, we try not to be far from the wireless connection that will hook us up to the latest whereabouts of Kim Kardashian. We are currently overloaded by the mass of media available to us.
I close now, under the weight of the irony of writing a blog about the burden of pop culture.