I’m not a fan of the media. I don’t mean media as a communication device even though I wonder if the days of dial telephones and snail mail were truly the good old days…, I mean media as the conglomeration of corporations and people creating all manners of entertainment and everything related to that industry. Basically, I believe that the media in general is the education department of the demon of the spirit of the age. We are constantly indoctrinated with post-modernism, relativism and humanism through movies, television, radio, music, art, pop religion and magazines. Nothing is merely entertainment, nor is anything merely a program, a song, or even a commercial break. Nothing is created out of a vacuum or accidentally… it comes from some “place” even if the creators are unaware of that place.
In a sense I’m not really qualified to critique the media. I grew up not watching TV and a lot of movies, and I still don’t. I rarely read a magazine except when I’m waiting for an oil change or a root canal. The last thing I remember on TV is basically Captain Kangaroo, The Flintstones, Lunch with Soupy Sales and the wonderful world of Disney. So when I see glimpses of some crime drama or sit com or movie the change in what is considered normal and acceptable for network television or PG13 viewing is pretty glaring. What was rated X at the movies when I was a teenager is now on prime time TV. So in another sense I think I’m immanently qualified to critique the media because I haven’t been a frog in the water slowly being boiled to death but not noticing the change for the last 48 years. But more than that, when the first thing you remember when you are watching TV or listening to the media is Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sake of the fallen world and all its manifestations, the spirit of the age and the deceptions of the media are also pretty glaring.
The media has slowly desensitized us to the grossness of sin and debauchery. Torture, rape, adultery, murder…you name the lowest act a human being can sink to and it passes for entertainment now. Nothing is left to the imagination, in fact the media prides itself on portraying things most of us could never even imagine.
One of the things that has occurred to me lately is that the microcosm of the media is advertising. It takes the culture, the pop philosophies and psychologies, human motivations and desires that drive the greater entertainment industry and distills them down to 30 second spots and single phrase slogans. Advertisers spend millions of dollars doing market and psychological research to discover what will motivate people to buy a client’s stuff. More often than not it is not only the merit of the product, but a feeling or status or aura they can create around the product that appeals to a human desire. There is even a method and purpose to putting commercials and ads in certain TV programs and magazines because of the demographics of the viewers. It is all a carefully targeted and orchestrated appeal, much like choosing specific bait to catch a certain fish in a lake.
Advertising is nothing new. It is merely a tool to influence you to buy a product by an enticement of some kind. Satan ran the first ad agency in Eden and ALL advertising has used the same three fundamental appeals since then: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Advertising taps into the fallen order’s core beliefs, the current philosophical mindsets and cultural agendas. Campaigns, slogans and “tag lines” are not created in a vacuum, they are well researched, finely tuned and tested. They are not innocuous and without meaning or influence. They invariably speak to a human weakness but twist it to make it sound like a virtue:
Nike’s “Just do it”: Oh yeah…Do we really want a world in which no one has any impulse control and no one considers the consequences of their actions? What kid in trouble hasn’t said, “I dunno…I just did it….”? Aren’t we supposed to grow out of that?
Advertising also appeals to the passions. I was following a Sparklett’s Water truck on the freeway yesterday. The poster on the back side said “The taste you deserve without the calories!”
Ummmm…. “The taste you deserve”? Who DESERVES taste??? And why?
The sense of of entitlement is one of the latest narcissistic characteristics of an unabashedly self absorbed culture that advertisers are tapping in to. TV, radio and print ads tell you that you deserve a break, pampering, peace of mind, pleasure in unlimited and boundless quantities, to have bill collectors leave you alone, and yes, even water that has flavor and won’t make you fat.
Why do you deserve all that? Simple. Just because you exist.
But not really. You don’t deserve it, you feel entitled to it. Advertisers are merely schmoozing your self absorption to separate you from your money (I know that’s news to many of you… sorry to burst your bubble). But if you’re oblivious and narcissistic enough to believe what they are telling you, you deserve to be taken and they deserve to get your money. The problem is, as much as we have we believe it is normative and whatever more is added quickly becomes what we are entitled to.
I dunno… whenever I see people upset because they didn’t get what they think they’re entitled to it just confirms my belief that Entitlement is its own hell.
Anyway, we’ve all heard Burger King’s “Have it your way” and the ubiquitous “Indulge yourself” attached to so many products from ice cream to spa treatments,: Do I even need to say anything about this?
Salem radio strikes to the heart of the egomania of the contentious and self appointed gate keepers: “Where your opinion counts”: Oh SURE it does… for arbitron ratings which translate into more advertising dollars. BUT… as a local car dealer tells me every morning: “Its all about you”,
I could go on and on and on but the common thread is “the spirit of the age” and the fallen human being’s self centeredness. We are constantly bombarded with catch phrases that reinforce secular humanism, relativism, post modernism, narcissism, hedonism, entitlement, and selfishness. If you look at ad copy and listen to the tag lines of commercials critically, you’ll begin to see what is shaping our minds. We are immersed in media that ministers to our short attention spans with sound bites, catchy phrases and slogans. For the most part we are uncritical consumers of the constant menu of godless philosophy laid before us by the media.
SO, …I’m eating supper and reach for the KETCHUP… and there….On my supper table… On the KETCHUP bottle…on the lowly, common, unglamorous, ordinary, unpretentious, homely KETCHUP is a billboard for the gospel of relativism and humanism: “YOU BE THE JUDGE” is in capital letters on the label.
OK, sure, its just a contest, its just an advertising gimmick… but what does it say to you and teach your children every time you pick it up? YOU are the arbiter, you are the definer of reality, you alone are the discerner of all things …including ketchup….. yes, it tells you what you want to hear: you are god ( with a small g…)
“You be the judge” is exactly what the Serpent tempted Adam and Eve with: “You will be like God, knowing good from evil”. My ketchup bottle tempts me to the same lie:
*I* am the judge.
Is my ketchup bottle that far removed from the serpent and the apple? (OK…I know it wasn’t an apple…it very well might have been a tomato.) Am I over reacting? Of course I think not … otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time recording this. The bottom line is, both are lies feeding our human ego, and insofar as we believe them and live according to them we are less than truly human.
Oh, come on, Steve…its JUST KETCHUP!! How much influence can ketchup have?
The reality is, Words are important. With a word Jesus casts out demons. The word of faith saves us. God’s words do not return to Him empty. By your words you are judged. A word can heal or kill. Words mean something. No word is empty (and for that matter neither is well placed silence)… And just because there are very few words and they are subtle and placed in an inconspicuous place makes them even more seditious and dangerous.
The phrase on the ketchup bottle was not “Ketchup tasting Contest!” It was a relativistic humanist platitude that is shoved down the throats of millions of people every day in media. (Perhaps I should rephrase that…millions of people open their mouths and swallow it willingly because they don’t have the discernment to see what they are being fed is philosophical poison )
“You be the judge” on a ketchup bottle…Is it a small thing? Sure, in isolation. But it is not an isolated message, it is THE message of the age broadcast in small doses in hundreds of ways that there is no truth except what you think it is…. And if you load enough pennies in a sack eventually it will weigh enough to crush someone.
I have a lot more to say about this but I’m out of time today. Next week:
Moral relativism: should we return to boiling people in oil for their philosophy?
What is truth?
A man who thought he was a rabbit.
And ten things you can’t say as a humanistic relativist.