Schizophrenia

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The Schizophrenia Tormenting Our Society & Economy

Look no further than the TV
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 9:51 PM

What can popular television programs tell us about the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) of our culture and economy? 

It’s an interesting question, as all mass media both responds to and shapes our interpretations and explanations of changing times. It’s also an important question, as mass media trends crystallize and express new ways of understanding our era. » Read more

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Desperately Seeking Substance

Pursuit of the superficial is creating a social depression
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 9:50 PM

Executive Summary

  • As we increasingly revere the superficial, we increase our subconscious craving for substance
  • What the success of Breaking Bad tells us about our confidence in meritocracy
  • The hopelessness of achieving the sold "American Dream" has created a cultural social depression
  • Healthy, authentic social mores will be found in our own making of them, not the idiot box

If you have not yet read The Schizophrenia Tormenting Our Society & Economy available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we set the stage for an analysis of American TV as a reflection of the cultural schizophrenia created by a widening gap between the few at the top of the celebrity/wealth pyramid and everyone else. TV’s winner-take-all competitions reflect the normalization of our acceptance of a society that produces few winners and an abundance of losers, and of the partial redemption offered by temporary recognition or social-media popularity.

On the surface, such shows reflect our culture’s belief in merit as the arbiter of success: the “best” competitor wins fair and square.  But beneath this superficial elevation of meritocracy are a variety of questions about the critical role of judges (experts) and the rewards of recognition, however fleeting: if the public spotlight is inaccessible, attracting a large number of “likes” for “selfies” photos offers a consolation form of popularity.

That such adulation of celebrity and the gaze of others trigger the loss of an authentic self is never mentioned; asking why draws a blank, as that interpretation of celebrity simply doesn’t exist on the cultural stage.

Let’s continue our exploration of TV’s subtexts by examining the ground-breaking series, Breaking Bad.

The Many Subtexts of Breaking Bad

Let me start by stipulating I am no expert on the series Breaking Bad, or indeed, on any TV series; I am commenting not on the plots or characters per se but on the series’ subtexts.

Many have noted the implausibility of a schoolteacher in America not having health insurance (and also not qualifying for Medicaid), not to mention the premise (that a schoolteacher starts manufacturing one of the most destructive and addictive drugs on the planet, crystal meth, to pay for his cancer treatments).

James Howard Kunstler recently took note of... » Read more