In today’s America, games rule. Literally.
We have Hunger Games in theaters, the talent game show American Idol chooses our next musical stars, political games are played by the wealthy and politicians to win the next election, media outlets game their viewers for profits and Wall Street and corporations gamble to win big on all of the above at the expense of 99% of Americans (with tax payer money always there to bail them out).
America has become one big cynical carnival of games but at least the GOP has been considerate enough to throw in a number of clowns at no extra cost.
The problem with everything being a game is that, as in every game, someone has to lose. So when it comes to such things as democracy, health care, economic fairness, etc., areas where there should not be winners and losers but a nation working together and a rising tide raising all ships, there are losers.
So the supporters of class warfare, misogyny, racism, religious zealotry and plutocracy readily compete against the public welfare to bring home the gold.
The other destructive factor in layering everything in society with a game is that the game can become the primary focus and the underlying critical social issues can be neglected and deteriorate. Whether it’s our crumbling infrastructure, stagnant job growth and pay, corporate domination over our democracy, poverty, our manipulative media…it’s all about winning the games piled on top of the real issues instead of addressing the actual issues.
It’s no coincidence that corporations and the GOP use the same playbook in setting up and competing in games. In one way or another, they seem to apply the same game to every situation, “Dodge Bull”. This is basically a game of spending a great deal of money and/or media attention on lies, both in number and repetition, so that the “opposing players” are fully occupied trying to refute lies instead of being able to debate the substance of an issue. The idea is to overwhelm the opponent, rain down on them and the public a torrent of lies so great that they can’t all be caught and fully disproven.
For example, if you watch cable news, you’ve likely been barraged by commercials from oil companies that show people “disagreeing” over more drilling and clean energy then coming to the conclusion that oil companies are magically able to both drill and mine for a dirty, toxic fuel while being ecologically safe. Just ask BP about that or the people who can light their water on fire. Yet, by drilling this pleasantly presented, dishonest message into the heads of the public, they anticipate reaping a gusher of manipulated support. In fact, one of these ads from Chevron claims that the Keystone XL pipeline will bring plentiful and secure supplies of energy to the U.S. and that is a flat out lie. Even the owners of the pipeline are on record explaining that oil from the Keystone pipeline will be sold to the world market, meaning virtually no oil will come to the US from the pipeline. But again, this game is about throwing grit into the public’s eyes so they can sneak across the finish line and grab the oily trophy.
Mitt Romney’s entire campaign is based wholly on the Dodge Bull game. He spent millions inundating Republican primary voters with lies and attacks against his opponents…and almost nothing on explaining why he should be President. Which is more important to voters in the long run? And Romney spouts one easily provable lie after another in attacking President Obama, almost gleefully admitting it’s all just a game of Dodge Bull.
Elections have become just the game of manipulating perceptions, a game of illusions. There is so little honest debate and expression. There are those like Romney who could only win an election by playing this game and those like Obama who have to respect the game or be demolished by it.
Why do Americans have such low regard for their government and their democracy in general? Could it be because they have seen this game mentality in campaigns and in office and recognize that part of the game is to show a patronizing concern for their welfare and democracy itself while it’s really all about these politicians winning? Re-election, handouts to their cronies, legislation for their corporate contributors, maybe many Americans see the game quite clearly and see it as rigged against their ever really winning.
Playing just to win the game may prove one good at playing games but it distracts from answering important questions or solving important problems…and that’s exactly the point and purpose.
Which brings us to the corporate media. No need to go into great length as I’ve addressed this in prior posts but the corporately owned media is in the ad money game so whatever they can do to break their previous high scores, they will and need to do. To win at that game, they need to play another game with the public, “Outrage”.
Unfortunately for the MSM, the actual news of the day just won’t fill 24 hours of broadcasting, reality isn’t as prolific or “sexy” as corporate media outlets need it to be…so they invent their own reality that is. Each day is a desperate hunt by them for something someone says or does that they can pour gasoline over and throw a match on it so they can turn to the public and tell them how outraged they should be at it. The simple fact is, conflict attracts viewers (ever see people look away as they approach a car accident?), they know this so they manufacture all the conflict and outrage they can to keep and attract viewers, allowing them to charge more for advertising.
Add to this the political agenda of the five corporations that own all major media outlets and you have what we have today, media that doesn’t just report the news, they also create some of it…which is part of this same game.
When Hillary Rosen, who has no connection to President Obama, was painted as evil by the corporate media for her remarks about Ann Romney, the media splashed that all over Obama. Days later when Ted Nugent, who is officially lauded by Romney as his supporter and advocate, infers that he would try to kill Obama if he was re-elected and urges people to chop off the heads of their political opponents, the corporate media doesn’t make a peep about Romney being impacted by this.
The Presidential Photo Finish Game that the corporate media is playing is the cause. Right now, Obama is ahead of Romney in most non-partisan polls. As mentioned, conflict drives people to watch and read the media. So, a tight Presidential race means more revenues to these corporations. Is it then so mysterious that the corporate media jumped at the opportunity to damage Obama’s lead with a manufactured attack on him while rejecting a far more appropriate opportunity to hold Romney responsible for the threats that an official and sought out supporter of Romney’s delivered?
There are sneaky ways that the media accomplishes its goals, sometimes by default instead of design. There are those like Fox News that play the game by plainly fabricating outrage and openly presenting politically motivated falsehoods as news to harm their political adversaries and give a hate fix to their hate-addicted audience. Then there are outlets like MSNBC which present those and other contrived outrages to inform their viewers about them or to discuss their legitimacy. By not talking about the real issues and discussing the games others are playing, they are actually playing the game just as much as the originator of them…and winning as much by doing so. In any case, there’s no way to ascertain the true intention, whether the coverage of such games comes from genuine concern or is just an intentional twist on the original game, feigning concern as a way to keep playing the game and increasing revenue without alienating viewers who might otherwise object.
Must we accept that everything has to be a game? Our democracy, our health, our nation’s future? Does everything of consequence have to be shoved aside to make way for a never-ending competition over money or power?
There is a very encouraging trend, a way that Americans have been kicking over the game board with a growing frequency that’s quite heartening.
There were other instances before it but the big Wisconsin protests against Gov. Walker’s outlawing of collective bargaining rights, seemed to kick off a series of occasions when Americans said, “We’re not playing your game!” There was the political explosion of Occupy Wall Street, people standing up against The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s game to damage Planned Parenthood, people rejecting the Rush Limbaugh game to destroy and diminish the voices of women to stand up for their rights and people refusing to accept the racist game of the Sanford Police Department to allow white people the right to shoot and kill black people.
It seems that many Americans have had enough of games and players. With so many huge issues facing us, we don’t have time to keep spending our days playing the MSM’s “Untruth or Dare” or the Republicans’ “Green Lie, Red Lie.” Our society, infrastructure, economy and sense of community have been deteriorating because they’ve been neglected and ignored by those who would rather win their games. They haven’t an interest in solving the serious problems facing Americans.
Most Americans enjoy games for fun but when it comes to our future, we need to put the games aside and get something meaningful done. Perhaps more and more Americans will feel the same as those who are already standing up and tell those who try to game the majority of Americans, “game over”.