serial indoctrination

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By FLÁVIO R. KOTHE*

It is up to the colonized to applaud those who dominate them. They don't seem to feel chains and chains

The NCIS series is explicitly imperialist and warlike, but it is the most appreciated series in the world, as if the American neocolonies loved the domination they suffer. An aircraft carrier transports an airport close to the country to be bombed by the planes and rockets that are on board. It is a vehicle of violence against distant peoples, but it seems to be seen as an ark of salvation. Icon of the new justice, the Navy is a new god.

There is no patriotism that resists military power by itself. European countries, with the exception of Russia, are generally occupied by American troops: they have lost sovereignty since 1945, but they accommodated, without protest. Most of Latin America no longer suffers from this occupation – which already occurred in World War II – nor is it necessary that it does, as there are indirect controls. Patriotism, which was used so much to mobilize in the world wars, had to deal with the practice of globalization, as if it were a concert of nations and not neocolonialism.

For dozens of years, people under American rule were bombarded with anti-communist propaganda, until the Soviet regime went bankrupt for not knowing how to carry out the reforms it needed in time. It has been replaced by anti-Russian propaganda, which appears disguised under such figures as the Russian mafia, former KGB agents, spies, etc. Russia came to represent evil, which reflects the conflict between NATO expansionism and Russian territorial and population defense.

For decades, it was boasted that Russia would have a cultural policy completely manipulated by the State, while in the United States artists would enjoy complete freedom. What is not true at either end has become undoubted dogma. The US military would not make ships, military installations, and fighter planes available to film and video directors without first examining the script and dialogue.

They may not even need to make great impositions, as the authors of the scripts, directors and actors conform to such prosthetics of national power. When the big prizes are made, everyone is happy at the parties, with the big money they made collaborating with the world domination. There is no critical sense in broadcasts, journalists are sounding boards for what is dictated by the empire.

The marines – who will kill Vietnamese, Arabs, Muslims and anyone who dares to resist the “democratic dictate” – are presented as heroes. If one dies, spectators around the world are expected to be moved by military funeral ceremonies. Whoever is not moved has no heart. He doesn't know the value of the medals.

Nothing is free there. There is not "ars gratia artis”, even if announced at the opening of the films. “Art” is made to dominate. The “beautiful” is not free, he is manipulated, from the uniforms to the beautiful eyes of the actors and the charm of the actresses. A standard of what appears as “quality” is created: it is configured in series in which each one has the same standard, with the promise of seeking justice in each episode, to embellish the power or/and arrogance of the armed forces and police.

It is up to the colonized to applaud those who dominate them. They seem not to feel chains and chains. Pretend not to feel. The episodes have to solve the initial crime in less than an hour, with the search for the criminals and, finally, the punishment of the culprits. Each episode shows a new quest for justice, which makes the entity that sponsors and blesses them just.

One is trapped there in a metaphysical structure that promises salvation to the just. There is no debate, however, what would really be fair. Arguments sometimes appear, so that in the end nothing is debated in depth, because right and wrong are fixed in advance. Right is what serves American rule; wrong and bad, what resists. What is not made explicit for the debate is the founding structure, which conducts the plot, the lines and the outcome.

The series are like processions, in which the faithful demonstrate their fidelity, as they believe in the hero in the monstrance of supreme values. Let that priest be a Gibbs who was a marine abroad, a sniper capable of hitting “targets” hundreds of meters away, makes him even more admired. He is the high priest of the series, although there are characters with higher ranks. The faithful think they are not on their knees, as they can be stretched out on the sofa in the living room.

Courses that should teach how to read better, such as Letters, do not intend to decipher such plots. Nor does it seem to them that reading sacred texts fits into their tasks. They seem to train puppets, who don't want to think ahead. Repeating the same thing is easier than thinking for yourself.

Series like NCIS have excellent scriptwriters, directors, actors, cameras: the more perfect they are, the more perfect the story they tell seems. It is true: it seems. It is not disputed. The underlying meaning of the plot, the semantic gesture hidden in the deep structure, this is not examined, it is not discussed, as the priest's or the pastor's sermon is not discussed. But what's the use of arguing if you can't give back to the antenna that transmits your sermons? The technical structure is totalitarian, unidirectional. A formalist semiotics will not decipher this. For her, the problem doesn't even exist.

To decipher such police television series, it is necessary to develop a double vision: in addition to the pair of eyes that see the surface structures and are enchanted by them, it is necessary to retreat to a distanced view, which manages to decipher what they intend to induce to believe. How is this observation post set up? With a barricade of historical data and political assessments.

There is method to lying. Fiction proposes its version as if it were fact. The media receiver becomes similar to the believer of the text that is sacred to him: he believes that what is narrated is a copy of the real, telling everything that was relevant to tell. By repeating the same scheme every week, with variations that disguise and hide it, the receivers become mechanized: they no longer think, they seem fanatics, who always manage to find a way to reaffirm their myths and deny what challenges them.

The weekly enactment becomes a rite that echoes, reinstitutes and cultivates the myth. It is not dissected, the corpse is not necropsied to see the bone structure and internal diseases. One does not want to shake the conviction that there is justice in the world and that it is done by those who sail on the biggest aircraft carriers. Justice there is the will of the strongest. The rest need to learn to shut up and obey. There is no arrogance: there is power from those who can. Every episode demonstrates this. His perfect speech already proves what he wants to prove through it.

Merchandise has been seen as a promise of happiness, a piece of paradise anticipated for mortals. This seems to be more than having in it a good that meets a need: there is fetishization, in which there is, it seems, an overlapping of exchange value with use value. For those who adhere to this paradisiacal fetishization, believing in advertising, the merchandise meets, however, needs other than just the immediate need. This lack also generates needs, even irrational ones such as narcissism and megalomania. They can be, however, quite social, such as flaunting the price of shoes, handbags and cars to be recognized as “elite”.

The fetish auratizes the good, makes it look like a stepping stone to paradise. The subject promotes himself by allowing himself to be moved by such use, believing that others will see it as he does. Any place can seem like paradise, if the bad aspects are subtracted, just as it can seem like hell if only the negative sides are focused. Even so, ratings are not just subjective.

The promise of paradise coupled to merchandise through the fetish of advertising makes it seem that transcendence is achieved. It is as if a new god had come to Earth: selective consumption. It's as if a god shines on the edges of the targeted cloud. In a world without gods, the new god reigns: the repeated consumption of an identical structure. It leads to mental lethargy. The night becomes catatonic. The more the same is consumed, the more the receptor is lost in the differentiation of surface structures. A god is expected, who repeats his promise in serial reproduction.

The lack of hope can induce resignation. It can either lead to accepting hostile fate as a fatality, which may or may not be faced, or it can lead to a conformism that ends up accepting everything, as there seems to be nothing else to do. She may believe she is superior to partisan quarrels, but her false consciousness is a lack of consciousness. Those who accept arrogance end up being subjected to it; those who do not accept it can be destroyed, but they can also distance themselves from it.

Fun in sitcoms has become a kind of commodity whose discourse, not being perceived as persuasive, dominates those who think they are having fun while being indoctrinated. As this dominates TVs, which dominate homes, it ends up generating a form of totalitarianism that is well accepted by subscribers. They pay to be dominated.

From the discourse of the westerns that populated the matinees in cinemas, 50 or almost 100 years ago, to the discourse of the police series that dominate today's television nights, is the underlying structure the same, although the surface structures have changed? The trivial scheme is the same: bad guy x good guy, with the villainy of the bad guy and the heroic persistence of the good guy, who always ends up winning in the end, because virtue needs to be rewarded and evil to be punished, as Plato already wanted. There is no discussion there of what is good or bad: that would be boring, it would disturb the fun. You already know who is what. O happy end proves it.

These films and series are well-made, with well-written plots, good actors, a lot of publicity. In the logic of NCIS, one might even suggest that the good guy did some things outside the rules, but it was always for a good cause: the ends justify the means. The ends are unquestionable, as they are in the evidence of the eternal return of the same: the victory of good over evil. There may be a sailor or officer who takes the wrong step - and is later punished for it - but the Navy is a divinity that hovers above suspicion, it not only guarantees American supremacy in the world, but universal justice.

The marine's motto - "always faithful" - is a variation of the stickers that are pasted around saying "God is faithful" or "Christ is faithful", so that the faithful remain faithful, continue paying tithes to the church of their choice, to guarantee transport post-mortem to paradise. This goes back to the parable of Job, in which a lord of land, cattle, people, slaves and wives ends up losing everything, but, for having persisted in his belief in Jehovah, he ends up, after the trials, getting everything back, doubled and multiplied. In short, this god is in favor of slavery, large property, the harem of many concubines and wives.

Not doubting the god who puts the believer to the test serves as insurance not only to have all damages repaired, but to become even wealthier. Being rich is good, a sign that you are well regarded by the god. Exactly the opposite of the belief that a camel would be easier (Camilos thick rope) pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This difference in belief determined differences between Iberian and English colonization, eventually making the former a servant of the latter.

Keeping faith serves to not see the limitations or question the guidelines it imposes. It is good for a believer to have a god who grants him riches on earth or who grants him the glory of eternal life. They are two forms of the same opportunism. What seems to impose all morality has no moral foundation. Wanting to be an increasingly rich lord or accepting to be a servant who begs for the landlord's blessings are two faces of the same structure.

To be faithful to the belief is not to want to question this founding structure, so as not to discard the advantages that one side or the other is expected to obtain. It is an antithetical relationship that has lasted for millennia and will last for centuries. Religion serves to keep this structure in the mind unshaken, making it last, no matter how many surface variations it suffers. The more it is always the same at bottom, the more it needs surface variants.

The petrification of the foundation is consecrated, without seeing whether it results from unresolved traumas. Regression is practiced as a virtue, anyone who thinks differently is exorcised. It doesn't matter whether you kneel down praying in a temple or lie down on the sofa, sipping beer while watching the series: the structure is the same. You don't want to think about it. One wants to guarantee salvation, either from a peaceful life or from a life post-mortem.

There is a correspondence between the structure of these trivial narratives and the Western metaphysical structure. Both respond to something that they themselves do not question. Both answers are wrong as the questions were poorly posed. Receiver and believer want to be carried along on the gentle waves of a narrative that suits them to believe, however misleading it may be. The salvationist project present in the NCIS series and others is not questioned as the sermon of the priest, pastor or rabbi is not questioned.

who is in Navy he believes he is on the boat of salvation, as if it were Noah's vessel, in which couples of all existing animals would have fit (believe who wants to). This “story” has already appeared in the Gilgamesh and from there it was transposed and adapted to Jewish monotheism and the invention of slavery in Bible, from where it reemerged in the Old testment Christian. Outside of these “mythical” versions, it is speculated that around 8500 BC there was a break in the wall that separated the Mediterranean from an existing lake where rivers from present-day Russia flowed. At the 100-metre drop, the Dardanelles Strait was generated by storms and earthquakes, which led to an increase of about two kilometers per day of what would be the Black Sea today. It was possible to escape on foot and it was regional.

Belief is not just a private matter, the subject's inner freedom. It is rather an abdication of critical reason than freedom. It is decisive in structuring the public sphere and the narratives that dominate it. They condition what people think, judge and do. It is difficult to distinguish between reason and rationalization.

The mind lies so blatantly that the lie itself institutes the mind. The fiction that she invents seems right. Man believes himself to be a rational animal, moving away from animality for the soul he assumes he has. It becomes fun to believe that what fiction proposes is real and true.

There is an immense propagation of signs from the USA that became a hegemonic discourse that is no longer discussed a century ago. In the face of this power, the critical conscience, if it does not want to resign, it seems that it has to put the guitar in the bag and go out on the road, as if its time were tomorrow, hoping that today's enemies do not believe that, because they know that there is no to come. The pilgrim sings his song, thinking that the birds are singing for him and that he will have a long journey, not knowing what awaits him around the next bend. Bet on your road, because it's the only one you have. What will wait for him, however, will be a seven-foot grave, like the fairest thing that seems to happen to those who lived devouring the lives of others.

* Flavio R. Kothe is a retired full professor of aesthetics at the University of Brasília (UnB). Author, among other books, of Benjamin and Adorno: clashes (Attica).

 

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