50°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Being Obtuse

Upon reading Ernest Hemingway’s manuscript of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway’s famed editor, wrote that “if the function of the writer is to reveal reality, no one has ever so completely performed it.” With this in mind let us agree that all great human endeavors reveal something of reality, and, in doing so, invariably affect it. So it was when the recently deceased Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, a man who almost single handedly shaped the economic and political landscape of the world in which we live, wrote his own masterpiece, Capitalism and Freedom. In it he rebuffed New Deal policies and Keynesian economic theory, arguing that political and social liberation is attained not through expansion, but restriction of government in the free market.

Today this concept is second nature to all but the dogged professors who, still testy – but undaunted – by the absolute failure of Communism, abjectly use their positions to beguile and indoctrinate new generations of students into believing that the big C’s washout was attributable not to its own absurdities, but to the conniving stratagem of laissez faire government and its appeasement of individual greed.

Nonetheless, professors and students alike, locked safely away in their little classrooms, far from the havoc of reality, make for a quaint pair. Yet even there, the most unlikely advocate of the innate good of pure capitalism is, at this very moment, tunneling its way into their fortresses of iron curtains and “glass ceilings.” Namely: “American Idol.”

Indeed, “American Idol” – and, of all things, pop culture, – is the most reassuring indicator that the future of America and, therefore, capitalism, is (thank heavens) safe from the burnt-out ideals of post-Marxist PhD’s. Allow me to elaborate.

Nielsen Media Research, best known for its “Nielsen Ratings” of television programs, has ranked “American Idol” (Tuesday) and “American Idol” (Wednesday) numbers one and two respectively by viewer ship. Moreover, it calculates that “Idol” is watched by nearly 35 percent of all households and has an audience of almost 60 million.

Impressive. But why on earth does it amount to a statement regarding the quality of capitalism, let alone the future of America? Because “Idol” is nothing more, and nothing less, than an entertaining representation of what Americans (and, particularly, American youth) care about: fame and fortune. And fame, I assure you, only to the extent that it bears fortune. Who, after all, dreams of being destitute and famous?

Simon Cowell, “American Idol’s” insufferable, though irreplaceable chief personality, recently, in an interview with “60 Minutes” (number 13 on the Nielsen rating chart), opined that Idol’s contestants are merely looking for a fast track to fortune and bragged about the more than 500 million record sales the program has so far registered, stating, in so many words, that he is more important to Sony Records (the company with which “American Idol’s” contestants record) than its biggest artist: Bruce Springsteen.

But if “Idol” isn’t enough to convince you that America’s kids are, as Pete Townsend put it, “alright,” consider number 10 on Nielsen’s list: “Deal Or No Deal.”

Reaching more than 14 million viewers each Monday, between 8 and 9 p.m., NBC’s “Deal Or No Deal” has stripped away all pretence about what America is truly concerned, economically speaking. For one hour, interrupted only by god-blessed commercialism, audiences watch as contestants, in hopes of winning as much as $1 million, select from a stage of cash filled briefcases, presented by gorgeous women, while a banker tries to buy them off. That’s it, nothing else. No questions, no tasks – just the money, man… 14 million viewers.

While we exist at a time when the indications of the best possible relationship between individuals and society have been reduced to pop culture (a condition almost completely due to the effort of leftist professors who censor and decry virtually everything in which they do not strictly believe – or understand) it is comforting to observe – so vividly, and indisputably – the triumph of human nature (and Friedman) over the impotence of their labor.