Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bacon subverts your ontology

Bacon lover to die?
The World News Daily Report says that this man was arrested and potentially faces a death sentence because he entered Qatar with twelve kilograms (twenty-six pounds) of bacon wrapped in large condoms and concealed in his anal cavity. Like many people who responded to the link to this story, I did not bother to check its provenance, so I took it seriously:

Suppose this man had been a shade more sensible before flying to Quatar. Instead of smuggling bacon into the country, he might have said to himself, "Well, I'm leaving Swineostan and flying home in a few days, so I better pig out on the bacon that I love while I still can." So he goes on a bacon bender, eating massive quantities of bacon at breakfast, bacon cheeseburgers at lunch, and bacon meatloafs at dinner. He has Bac-O's on his baked potatoes. At the Not-Ready-for-Halal Diner, he orders massive quantities of Bacon Lettuce & Tomato sandwiches, hold the lettuce, hold the tomato. At Al-Mataam Fez he eats Bacon Kafta and Bacon Kabobs. Finally, the time comes to fly home. As he's going through customs, his anal cavity is still filling with haram pork, but this time it fills from the usual channel and not from posterior insertion. The customs dogs are sticking their noses into his ass crack through his trousers. There is canine frenzy when he obliges them with a fart. He gets nervous, and his palms are sweaty. They take him back to the little room. Would he still be guilty by Qatar law of smuggling bacon into the country?
The Doha News presents a more credible voice about events in Qatar, and they say nobody has been arrested for entering the country with bacon stuffed where there sun doesn't shine. The man in the picture, they say, is a Taliban leader, Khairullah Khairkhwa, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and who has ever since been in Guatanamo Bay. 
Authorities with the alleged bacon.
They say that the photograph displaying the bacon is likely from the 2012 press conference in which Qatar Gas announced its sponsorship of the Police Sports Association. The picture was photoshopped to include the bacon. The Doha News also points out that it would be extremely difficult to insert twelve kilograms into someone's anal cavity. 

Wikipedia and Social Media Top Ten and many other pages are given to listing sources of news satire. One could make a list of listings of satire pages, a kind of meta-meta-satire page. The existence of a meta layer already strongly indicates that there is a huge growing number of satire sites, and not surprisingly the public's ability to distinguish between ordinary news and satire faces new and greater challenges every day.

It is easier to draw an audience with funny news I make up than with serious news. And really, I ask myself whether this story about the bacon is made to be funny or if it is merely designed to succeed by appealing to my xenophobia. The difference between real news and the news I can make up is like the difference between baseball and football. Baseball, for the most part, is a game of subtleties, nods to unseen silent signals, and long stretches before anybody has anything to get excited about. But football features mindless bone-crunching brutality in every play, and that's the kind of news a fictional, satirical news site can offer. The sites are genuinely funny, but they also draw a lot of traffic, which advertising on the sites converts to revenue.

Now I will make some observations on the United States, but chances are that this will apply to any country with an active press and broadcast media. The function of Medieval religion was to dictate a culture that included an understanding of the world, my ontology, ethics, and how I should go about doing almost anything, my culture. Everything from getting up in the morning, to baking bread, to the important life cycle events like birth, coming of age, marriage, and dying were dictated by my church, temple, or mosque. Now the pro forma functions of religion—praising gods—have been swept into the corner of a weekend morning, but the big religious functions of ontology, ethics, and culture, the real religion that unifies people into a nearly homogeneous controllable mass, reside in the media. The media teach me right from wrong—not merely that I shouldn't  kill, but I should pay my taxes, send my sons and daughters to war, vote, and not commit crimes against the corporate state. My rites of passage still include birth, coming of age, marriage, and dying, but I also should go to college, get a career, and buy a house. The sacrament is money, which I will receive if I follow the path. The pantheon comprises politicians, athletes, and actors, and the head god is the self, me, I. The culture begins with what to eat, and the emphasis here is on prepared foods that I can buy at the grocery store or, more importantly, at McDonald's or Red Lobster or any of thousands of feast sites.

I do not depend upon Control to have a culture. Control foists their ideal of culture upon me in order to control me. Without them, my community and I would invent our own culture. There are many interesting differences in the details of cultures created by people for their own sake as opposed to cultures foisted upon people by corporate overlords. Here is a random selection of some of the differences:

Native Culture
Corporate Culture
Culture grows upward from the grassroots
Culture is imposed from the top
Culture comes from people
Culture comes from corporations
Invented it ourselves
Foreign and foisted upon us
Motivated by our own benefit (which is not necessarily monetary)
Motivated for the profit of others
Religion tends to be matriarchal, celebratory, and centered in the home
Religion tends to be patriarchal, controlling, and institutional
Female nudity is beautiful
Female nudity is shameful

As you can see, the corporate culture works against the natural tendencies, and it relies upon the immensely powerful effects of broadcast media to enforce this culture against the human grain. In this way the people within the dominion of the corporate control of information are reduced to a herd that shares ontology, nationalistic impulses, and serves as a market that consumes the corporate products and economic sustains the system.

Yet if this is done through broadcast media, I wonder what will happen as this rising tide of satire begins to muddy and confound news from corporate sources. It is possible that the satire might introduce a fog that is to the corporate dictatorship's advantage—a fog of war. This particular example of the haram smuggler panders to the xenophobia that already has deep roots in corporate sources, so sophomoric humor that is racist or sexist serves the corporate agenda in the sense that racism has almost always been applied against America's enemies—Japs and Krauts in WW2, slopes in Vietnam, etc, ad nauseum—so a paranoid cultural critic might even say that satires are just another product of corporate control through media. Freud pointed out that joking is often a feeble excuse for insults.

During the so-called Arab Spring, "the people" supposedly used social media like Twitter to instigate the overthrow of so many hoary old Mideast dictatorships. More lately it has come out that the more likely scenario is that the CIA, not "the people," used Twitter to hide its identity as it instigated the overthrow of so many hoary old Mideast dictatorships. It would be nice to think that the adulteration of news with satire was also a matter of people subverting corporate control, yet it seems a simpler theory to believe that Control has set out to entertain and confuse us with satire until our ontolgies are completely muddled, and we don't know what is happening anymore.

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