FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What If the Dead Stop Playing Dead?

by JAMES McENTEER

Quito.

Zombies dominate our nation’s airwaves. They have already devoured much of our rational public discourse and now threaten our social sanity. Zombies are hot commodities. They sell. That’s why they cannot be stopped or killed. Some editors and producers understand that zombies carry dangerous mental and moral infections that may already have doomed civilization as we (used to) know it. But profits outweigh the risks of parading zombies in prominent places.

Two factions promote the prevalence of zombies in mass media: True Believers and Snarky Ironists. Believer media managers feature the living dead as hosts or guests to flaunt their twisted catechism. Media Ironists recognize zombies for the frightening freaks they are, but trumpet their grotesque views anyway to whip up outrage and energize their often demoralized “normal” base.

Unsurprisingly, many True Believers are zombies themselves, like Roger Ailes, who presides over the Fox zombie empire. Ailes spent decades promoting undead candidates such as Nixon and Reagan and Bush, all of whom were morally moribund before entering the White House. Like all zombies, Ailes has never had any actual ideas, only tactics, an obsession with ratings and an urge to rule.

He employs other soulless creatures like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, who substitute truculence for wit and shrillness for substance. Such tactics mesmerize the gullible and unwary, who fall under the zombie spell as their minds disintegrate and they too are doomed to wander empty-headed over the earth.

So-called progressive media are as guilty as Fox for promoting the zombie agenda. Salon and Raw Story and Talking Points Memo cannot resist quoting the mindless, outrageous comments of zombies such as Pat Robertson or Rick Santorum or Donald Trump, just to stir the pot. For liberal media, zombies are the freak show that helps lure rubes and readers into the main tent.

Irrational assertions by Robertson or other undead “ministers” who pretend to speak from religious conviction make for hilarious and/or infuriating headlines in otherwise supposedly rational publications. Robertson’s pronouncements, that Ivy League schools are preventing God’s miracles in America or that feminism causes women to kill their children and practice witchcraft, are simply too wackola not to report.

But this mockery – often in bold headlines – still spreads the soul-destroying zombie creed. And even ironic renderings of zombie madness have actual consequences. Consider Newt Gingrich. Though politically dead since the last millennium, when he resigned from Congress in disgrace, Gingrich was kept artificially “alive” long years after his political demise by constant exposure on cryogenic “news” programs, enabling his 2012 zombie candidacy for president.

Fox sustains political zombies long after their sell-by dates in public life: Sarah Palin and Dick Morris and Herman Cain are some of Fox’s dead talking heads. Other mumbling, unkillable corpses haunt radio airwaves, like Oliver North and Mike Huckabee. Sunday morning TV talk shows feature zombie panels grilling zombie guests, though it’s likely only zombies watch these shows.

The Republican presidential primary season was a veritable zombie jamboree. When Mitt Romney rose from the grave of his own hypocrisy and insular privilege to oppose Barack Obama, even Americans who dislike Obama’s policies voted for him anyway, simply because he was a live human being. That could have been his campaign slogan: Obama. He’s not a zombie.

Americans are still hung over from the Bush-Cheney zombie era of death and detention. We watched horrified as humans degenerated into zombies in front of our eyes, like Colin Powell at the United Nations. Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Woo – their names still sends shudders down the spine. Or the echo of their strange incantation: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud…”

The legions of political zombies who haunt Congress – McConnell, McCain, Hatch, Inhofe, Chambliss, Graham, et. al. – are a media cliché. Who keeps voting these creatures into office? Apparently others of their kind. Many so-called “reality” shows are mere zombie voyeurism: Survivor Housewives of the Jersey Shore. Shoot them, they get back up and keep coming.

For the common weal, it’s time for a mass media ban on zombies. True Believers cannot be dissuaded from their soulless course. Fox will be Fox. But progressive and mainstream media must cease offering zombies platforms to spout their venomous anti-life invective, even for scornful laughs. Exposure prolongs the power of the undead. Let them perish in a well-earned oblivion.

There is no reason to hear from – or about – the Westboro Baptist Church ever again. The living dead should not be given space to proselytize for their anti-human views, even when presented as freaks or perverts. Or from preachers of anti-gay sermons who turn out to be gay themselves. Religious hypocrisy is old news. Let Pat Robertson rant and rave only in the catacombs under the 700 Club.

Nor should media cover the mad posturings of notoriety-sucking undead like Donald Trump. Yes, Trump has completely missed the point of what it means to be human. But how often do we need to see him demonstrate that? Trump is like a race car driver with no brakes or pit crew, careening in circles. We watch him, waiting for his wheels to fly off, hoping no bystanders are seriously injured.

When you start to notice them, zombies are everywhere. We tend to take them for granted. But giving them free rein is a fatal mistake. Zombies won’t be content until they convert every last one of us to their ghastly ghetto of ghouls.

We’re fast approaching an apocalyptic tipping point. If we lived there we’d be home now. And we almost are. Klaatu barada nikto.

JAMES McENTEER is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger 2006). He lives in Quito, Ecuador.

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail