Saturday, October 16, 2010

Coincidence or Consciousness Manipulation?

Our household is one of neither rabid nor typical television viewing habits.  However, my wife and I share an interest in what seems to be a growing trend among some network series to play out their episodes in the context of a larger framing narrative, rather than treating each as a closed story in isolation.  We are also both suckers for interesting characters, particularly when those characters are willing to let an intellectual streak show;  and we can forgive a certain predictability in narrative if such characters have the ability to surprise through their virtuoso turns.

The character blessed with an intellect that never fails to astound is Henrietta "Hetty" Lange, Office of Special Projects Operations Manager on the CBS Television series NCIS: Los Angeles.  Last August I characterized Hetty as one of those “characters who understood (and cared about) the difference between Rainer Maria Rilke and Theodore Roethke;”  and, to be fair, she has a crew that can keep up with most of the twists and turns of her arcane references and outrageous memories.  (This week she recalled her work with Oliver North with a text that may not have been libelous but certainly did not cast him in a particularly kind light.)  I thus found myself both amazed and amused that Hetty’s scriptwriters decided to reveal this week that she was a Lady Gaga fan.  I was willing to let this slip as just another oddity until a similar endorsement for “the Gaga” (as Hetty called her) popped up during one of those regular Sunday dinner scenes on this week’s Blue Bloods.  Are there sinister forces of the consciousness industry at work here on behalf of Lady Gaga’s career?

My guess is that this is one situation that will not lead to a conspiracy theory.  Yes, Blue Bloods is another CBS series;  but this is one of those cases where following the money (as in the film version of All the President’s Men but not the book) does not lead to a clear connection.  Lady Gaga’s label is Kon Live Distribution, which is under the umbrella of Universal Music Group.  Universal is, in turn, a subsidiary of Vivendi, whose stake in American television is NBC Universal, a competitor of CBS.  Thus, if the consciousness industry is indeed financing the Gaga phenomenon, they are doing it in a peculiar way.

There is also the question of why the consciousness industry would want to make Gaga their project at all.  Now that she has decided to go public with her politics, it is hard to imagine that the consciousness industry would want her to receive any attention at all.  If those propagandists had any agenda it all, it would more like be to turn her into “yesterday’s news,” more likely to “pass unnoticed” than to remain in public discourse, even in the fantasy world of television series.  If distraction remains the most powerful tool of the consciousness industry, one would think that their forces would want to distract from her politics rather than promote her public presence.

Thus, I would conclude that no sinister forces are at work here.  More likely, there are a bunch of writers out there for whom Gaga’s name can always be hauled out for a quick laugh, thus putting her in a category with the likes of Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle (and more likely Fawn Hall, rather than Oliver North).  Meanwhile, I shall wait for some future script during which Hetty will regale us all about her experiences in dancing with Mikhail Baryshnikov!

1 comment:

Complex Event Processing said...

there are dynamics at work in these areas that are anything but intuitive. For example: oligopoly structures make competition in many ways impractical or even undesirable: nbc has a youtube channel, google owns youtube, and google has exclusive advertising rights with news corp (fox) property myspace. people who load nbc videos on youtube might be promoting the interests of competing firms. they're all entangled. like john malone said in the 90's: nobody can afford to compete anymore, you might need to cooperate elsewhere.

make sense of this in terms of traditional (lemonade stand) economics: coke and pepsi aren't really in competition with eachother on the basis of cost economics because they cost the same at the store.

if the question is "who profits by promoting lady gaga" you also have to ask "who profits from lada gaga's promotions?"

another odd example: intel recently started selling "cpu upgrade gift cards" that allow you to speed up your processor by entering in a serial number off a $50 gift card. intel distributes fast chips to everybody, but slows the chips down in software. they then charge for a software upgrade so users can access the full capabilities of the hardware. there's no "common-sense" or "ma-and-pa store" or "follow-the-money" sort of analog to that type of scenario. YOU AT ONCE GET MORE THAN YOU PAY FOR AND LESS THAN WHAT YOU PURCHASE.

The first time i encountered this in HARDWARE (though it's relatively common in software) was with a sony digital-8 handicam (with a LANC interface) that could be hacked to enable certain features that were disabled in the software menus: sony was selling identical 'guts' for their high-end and low-end camcorder models, then basically selling customers more or less complete software menus. sony made money off the margins by only having to engineer one model, and in terms of economies of scale.