Author Topic: Death of the Common Culture or How the Internet Will Destroy Civilization  (Read 16245 times)

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Offline RottingCorpse

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I'm swamped with shit to do so this is going to be curt.

Nacho and I have had a back and forth for weeks about the lack of a common culture. Basically I've come to the conclusion that the internet which was supposed to save us had made everything suck from horror movies to politics. Nacho doesn't disagree necessarily, but like to see how close he can get me to pissing on a cop car.

Anyway, the brunt of my argument is that we have no common culture anymore because everything is a niche. No more Who Shot JR?/ Who Killed Laura Palmer? moments. No common ground for anybody to agree upon.

Anyway, I ran across this and thought it valid to the "no common culture/why the internet sucks when it was supposed to be awesome" argument.

The irony that it comes from Cracked.com is not lost on me.

Quote
4 Awful Ways The Internet Is Tainting Everything Else

http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-awful-ways-internet-tainting-everything-else/

Offline nacho

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We're blaming the internet for what it always did from day one and not the fact that the Beatles are selling sneakers and MLK is selling cell phones? That's the death of culture.

Offline nacho

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And how about today's news that 20% of US adults do not use the internet at all? And that the trend is showing a departure from net usage among adults?

Certainly, in my own group of friends, I know people who do not use the internet at all (or only in a very limited capacity). And I know three people who have "downgraded" their smartphones to normal phones. That's something I've been hearing alot of lately.

I would put forward the argument that blaming the internet might be a bit of projection on your part. You're too plugged in, and therefore assume it's the problem (because, yes, it does feel wrong and unnatural, doesn't it?).

So that rounds back onto my belief that the death of common culture is a larger, more social problem rooted in the government, corporations, and our own complicity with them.

Offline nacho

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Watching the seventh Doctor episode Paradise Towers (based on High Rise by J.G. Ballard) right now and it hit me -- Jesus! RC needs to read his Ballard! Ballard was writing about how technology is destroying us (and our common culture) as it advances beyond our capacity to live normally way back in the 70's Specifically in three of his bigger novels:

High-Rise: A Novel, about a futuristic mega apartment complex with all the comforts built in -- supermarket, rec center, etc -- so it's completely self contained and has the latest techno whiz-bangs. Inside, humanity devolves into savagery, and the residents become part of a sort of uber-Lord of the Flies tale.

Concrete Island: A Novel in which a man crashes his car into the dead zone median strip between highways and goes native. (This was the inspiration for the Korean dramedy "Castaway on the Moon" which is watch instant on Netflix. In that, a man jumps off a bridge, fails to die, and wakes up on a junk-filled island in the middle of a river running through a major city...and goes native.)

Finally, we have Crash: A Novel which, in my opinion, Cronenberg ruined. He focused on the twisted sex and not the overall lesson of the book -- that mankind cannot survive our crippling dependence on gadgets and technology.

Offline Reginald McGraw

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I would argue that choosing the "No Internet" option immediately makes you a dinosaur. (Probably in the same way that I feel someone who says "The [Democrats/Republicans] are the big problem with our country!" has little to add to any political argument.) Those people are choosing to decline in relevance and impact on whatever "common culture" there might be. They are saying (in our generation's terms) "No, no microwaves and VCR clocks are just too much information for me to cope with. I'll stick with cooking on the stove top and who cares if my VCR blinks '12:00' all the time?'" Yeah, maybe they will find some way to assimilate back into the mainstream in a limited way, but not in the sense of participating in how culture is steered.

For a growing percentage of people, "There's an App for that," is how we solve problems. Certainly not a perfect solution by any means, but to overlook it as a fad is naive. It is a mass testing of a new way of operating and I believe that it (like microwave ovens) will eventually find it's place in less manic, more productive ways.

I do see the current "common culture" of America as seemingly rooted in sit-coms and viral YouTube videos, but hey, isn't that what "Cult Culture with the Freaks" is all about?

Offline nacho

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No! It's about kittens sleeping in sinks and Doctor Who!

Oh...wait...

Offline nacho

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And I just reposted that Xmen Born This Way parody...and I thought about this post. What about Gaga? Love her or hate her, she's a modern common culture moment.

Offline RottingCorpse

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Was. She was a brief common culture moment.

Offline nacho

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Well, nothing lasts forever, RC.

Offline nacho

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So, this weekend, RC and I are going to drink and argue this.

He's also going to get a history lesson on the boni - the "good men" who formed an ultra right wing hump in the Roman Senate - and how their polarizing acts paved the way for folks like Caesar...and how Caesar really just wanted to bring everything back to the middle and restore normalcy.

So in terms of the death of the Republic, the boni hit their height around 62 with the Cataline Conspiracy. From there, the doors were opened for Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar to consolidate power - essentially corporate powerhouses pulling government strings. To enhance their coffers, they each got involved in wars... Pompey and Crassus in the eternal war for the east and Caesar in Gaul. All after gold and the establishment of factory towns...corporate feifs. Money was power, and the ultra-conservative Senate nearly echoed today's religious right. Or vice versa, I guess. Then Crassus dies, Pompey is past his prime and adopts the ways of the boni...and junior partner Caesar has a looming legal problem...

I typed all this on the droid! I'm dying of boredowm at 722! Yay! Later today: the fall of Rome, broken down hour by hour!

Offline RottingCorpse

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Yeah, but at what point does Burton show up drunk and punch the camera man?

Offline nacho

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Yeah, but at what point does Burton show up drunk and punch the camera man?

See, I have no idea if you're referring to a real incident or not because we have no common culture.

I'm just going to talk about the daily lives of rich men 2000 years ago.

Offline RottingCorpse

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I'm looking forward to it, actually. I have some new ideas about this debate since we talked last as well.

Offline nacho

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Of course, the real joke, in comparing the two republics, is that Rome was brought down by a liberal democrat.

Though it's inaccurate to think of Caesar as the cause for the fall of the republic. Really, it was his death that brought it about. His goal was to be a more efficient and sane Sulla and get the republic back on track. Though, to do so, there's no choice but to grab all power and shake things up. Sulla managed because he didn't trust anybody and was always surrounded by legions. Caesar was a man of the people, loved by the people, and assumed he'd be safe. And he was! It's as if we got a more aggressive FDR in office who declared himself president until everything was sorted out -- social security, the budget, healthcare, a million other reforms. So, in desperation, the Republicans had no choice but to murder him during the State of the Union address.

And then they took over.

Until, say, Truman, Eisenhower, and MacArthur staged a coup and chased them out, then maintained a tenuous dictatorial hold on all of the US except for the middle states (we're focusing on grain now) which was help by the ousted republicans. The three go on a campaign of revenge and crush the ousted Republicans. Eisenhower takes command of the west coast, Truman -- heir to the dead FDR -- takes the east coast, and MacArthur takes the grain-rich middle country and they rule as a sort of populist rump in the senate.

But then MacArthur goes insane and, seeing himself as the ultimate power, and already kind of hating Truman, makes a bid for complete control. This in the wake of Eisenhower's death, so there's a gap in the trio's power structure anyway (which, oddly, back to Rome, is exactly what happened to pit Caesar against Pompey. The situation is eerily repeated with Antony and Octavian when Lepidus dies.).

Okay, so MacArthur gets creamed (through trickery, really) and Truman takes ultimate power... Leading to a cult of personality that would thrive, in one way or another, for the next 1400 years.

So that's the fall of the Roman Republic in modern terms.

It's actually fascinating. I think we dismiss it because the west was lost after a few hundred years and historians are very lazy about categorizing the Byzantines. The truth is that Rome the empire didn't fall till the 1450's. And, for that entire time, they play-acted at being a Republic. The emperor was never emperor until the final centuries. He was head of the senate. "First Man." A title anyone could get at any time, technically. Of course, it was rigged, and awesome powers were in place for him to abuse. But, you know, on paper... The Republic never died. 

Offline nacho

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But, anyway, enough of that. Common culture!

What about the Olympics? Kate and Pippa (and upper-tier British royalty et. al.)?

And couldn't it be argued that the rampant corporatism is, itself, a strong vein of common culture? We all know the golden arches, and the Burger King, and the Old Spice Guy.

Granted, that's sort of shoehorned into our minds...but it's certainly not niche.

Maybe the first step in this conversation is deciding what, exactly, we've lost. What is common culture? Is it about Who Shot J.R.? Who Killed Laura Palmer? Is it common ground? We all have common ground... Especially if you factor in the corporate images but, in terms of passing events, with Bin Laden's death, Hussein's, the Arab Spring (even if it's a general awareness), and royal weddings. Even with the simple stuff -- Sport people have their game seasons, sci-fi people have the next Star Trek movie...

The Internet Saturation Factor has erased blips like Who Killed Laura and Who Shot J.R. We need to remember that, when J.R. was "shot" and when Laura was killed, there were only a handful of TV channels. Most of us just had six or so. It didn't take much for a Big Event! Tonight, on a very special episode of Love Boat.. ooooh!


Now, yes, that's part of your argument -- we've been overwhelmed by an information/entertainment tsunami. We only have the niches and no unifying factors.

But, have we really lost the "common culture"? Isn't the internet, itself, a common culture? Aren't those niches, taken as a whole, a common culture? Whether or not we participate, we all know about World of Warcraft, and we all get most of the jokes in hyper-meta sitcoms. Big Bang Theory is a ratings powerhouse and it's about niche culture people.

So -- has the internet, in fact, saved us from losing our common culture?