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My Mother is a Screen Saver & Slept With My Hard Drive



My Mother is a Screen Saver & Slept With My Hard Drive


fter the 90's boom of computer technology and the phenomenal surge of the cohesive authority of the internet, came the ability to perceive our cultural surroundings in a constant state of flux. The internet paradoxically democratized knowledge, making it accessible and experienced by everyone, and decentralised the authors of this knowledge, into an agglomeration, a collective mass, which allows empathy to be streamed, contentment to be downloaded, experience to be uploaded, and banalities twittered. These aren't all inherently negative qualities however, but highlight the dramatically morphing dimensions of how individuals construct their idiosyncratic patterns of behaviour, and showcase them to an immeasurable audience. The emergence of Post Structuralism in 1960's France, saw the 'destabalising of the self', (the person distinct from all others with a unified consciousness), and claimed that only in the realm of the authors narrative could the self be sustained, whilst in reality, the self is subject to the changing tensions and conflicts of the individual's society. This is a recurring theme from Nietzsche's 'Ecce Homo; How One Becomes What One is', Roland Barthes' metaphorical 'death of the author' and 'birth of the reader', to Gilles Deleuze's 'becoming-other',

which all criticise the validity of a 'sustained self.' David Hume's Bundle Theory, outlined in 'A Treatise of Human Nature', stated that "we are never intimately conscious of anything but a particular perception; man is a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in perpetual flux and movement." Not only did the 90's see the advent of the technological boom, as Tim BernersLee successfully created the World Wide Web application for the Internet in 1991, but culture was carried on the crest of a digital wave, away from analogue coastlines, as compact digital cameras and digital SLRs became commercially available, eventually overtaking film photography by the early 2000's, the first MP3 player, the MPMan was introduced, later overtaking the demand for Compact Discs, and communication became almost instantaneous with the popularity of Email, and Microsoft's purchase of Hotmail. With this insatiable appetite for communication and interconnectedness came the popularity of the Talk Show, where the audience became intrinsically linked to it’s subject, and was given the tool of uncensored opinion, which gave precedence to the assumption that technology's primary function was to entertain.

During the 1960's, 70's and 80's, Steve Allen, Mike Douglas, and Dick Cavett, were amongst the leading talk show hosts in America, and were renowned for their conservative, intellectual approaches, and ability to mediate hostile guests with opposing views, and their shows always remained ahead of the cultural curve with interviews of iconic artists such as Jack Kerouac, Jean Luc-Goddard, Frank Zappa and Woody Allen amongst others. But as the demand for demur, soft spoken hosts fell in the 80's, it opened up the cultural void that was to be filled by the high-rating-fueled orchestrators of reverberation, such as Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, Doctor Phil, Sally Jesse Raphael, Riki Lake, Jerry Springer, Geraldo Riviera, and celebrity personalities who made the talk show host transition, all with sensationalistic themes that would ripple through the hysterical minds of their audiences, such as; ‘Latoya Jackson's Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Her Father.' 'Men in Lace Panties and the Women who like Them.' 'People talk about their goals to undergo sex-reassignment surgery.' 'Riki's Musclemen Dating Game.'

'Toothless Hillbillies and a Pink Dress.' 'Why Has my Boyfriend Destroyed his own Face?' 'Surprise, Im a drag queen.' The loss of meaning and breakdown of distinction between the subject and object, the self and the other, is what makes talk shows inherently fascinating, as they seek to draw the viewer into a state of reactionary abjection, perceiving trauma as uplifting, scandal as sitcom, and retaliation as entertainment. This reinforces the values of the JudeoChristian world and destabalises the individual notions of original sin, with perpetual morning broadcasts of publicly-defined immorality, sent directly into the living room. In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche called the establishment of moral systems based on the juxtapositions of 'good and evil', a 'calamitous error', and sought to reorganise a more naturalistic morality, based on the vital impulses of life itself. Ecce Homo is also a book of humbling hypocrisy and self reflection, with titles such as 'Why I Write Such Good Books', and 'Why I am so Clever.' where Nietzsche dismantles his own perceptions of his philosophical topics to create a new image for himself and of the modern critical thinker.

The book categorises the Western sense of virtue by using the MasterSlave morality dichotomy, where Master morality is the dominating influence of our society, as such qualities as strength, wealth, and nobility constitute the 'good'. It was the 'Masters' that originated the notion of morality and gave rise to 'good' and 'bad' impulses, as Master morality is reaffirming in itself, and simply judges what is detrimental to its cause, such as poorness, weakness and timidity. Slave morality on the other hand, is seen as a re-evaluation of the sentiment imposed by Master Morality, or literally 're-sentiment', a constant building and dismantling of morality, where "there is no moral phenomena, only interpretation of moral phenomena." But Nietzsche saw that historically, the essential struggles have always been between the strong (Roman Masters) and the weak (Judean Slaves), and condemns the slaves triumph in making all equal by way of enslavement, by democratising the principles of virtue and commodifying them, in turn, producing the novelty of 'The Talk Show Host'. The slave with the sharp dress sense, an air of self righteousness, who hands out a moralityfor-all from the controlled setting of a studio, accompanied by the archaic ‘nobleman’, now dressed in steroids and tribal tattoo.

"And how could there exist a 'common good'!" says Nietzsche, "The expression is a self-contradiction: what can be common has ever been but little value. In the end it must be as it has always been: great things are for the great, abysses for the profound, shudders and delicacies for the refined, and, in sum, all rare things for the rare." (Beyond Good and Evil) Much like the Super-Ego and EgoIdeal of psychoanalysis, the modern talk show host is an iconification of social perfection based on the Slave Morality principle, who's image of perfection is attributed to its parents image, that it strives endlessly to emulate, sometimes to destructive effects. This is an aspect expounded constantly in The Jerry Springer Show, where violent eruptions are encouraged and sometimes continue to play out during the end credits of the show, as Jerry, and his Super-Ego, stride superciliously backstage to give unsolicited general opinions, that would apply to a variety of situations, in 'Jerry's Final Thought'. The Slave-Morality notion of making an experience-for-all society, is an ever expanding principle, aided unquestionably by the internet and the desire to network via blog, Facebook and Youtube. This has been a positive affect on journalism, and the arts, making the distribution of articles and publication of work, accessible within constantly growing

digital archives, which mirrors the cultural model of the Rhizome, constructed by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri. Within this kind of liquid cultural flux however, the ability to derive objectivity from the single-vantage-point-structure that often defines a talk show, is contradictory to say the least, as the decentralisation of the subject occurs in the effort to create scandal. Little information is given about the background of the subject, as for immediate gratification of the audience, only one topic is called into question, and unhelpful amounts of scorn are poured onto the villainous character, who is suspected of infidelity, or subjected to a live DNA test. The power of context is something not to be undermined, as the death of the author signifies a new interpretation from the viewer. A typical example of the unreliable contextualisation of talk show subjects, and the societal shift in the demand for sensationalist stories to turn distrust into a publicly unifying quality, can be seen in the pre 90's interview of LaToya Jackson on the Phil Donahue Show, and again in 1991, where the audience opinion of the subject is polar opposite, and more hysterical, taking on the guise of the slave mentality of homogenous ethics, whilst LaToya Jackson now personifies the symbol of power that needs to be overthrown.

The rhizomatic sea of public perception then seeks to establish calmer weather, as LaToya Jackson is interviewed by an empathetic Jane Whitney in 1992, about her father's sex abuse allegations, transforming indignation into optimism, and generating an intercontextual environment of diluted emotions. By 1994, the principle assumption of this new technological reality, that brought experience directly to your living room, was that it should entertain the masses, which was something that was mirrored with the rise in popularity of the Microsoft After Dark 3.0 screen savers for PC. Complete with existential flying toasters, aquatic realms and soothing desktop rain drops, people were enchanted by the pre-determinism, and would let the inevitabilities and forgone conclusions unfold mesmerically and repeatedly. This began to progressively model a consciousness that fell in love with the hyper-real faculties of reaction, as fictionalised reality became a central component at the expense of accuracy within talk shows, and similarly, within the intertextuality and metamorphic nature of the After Dark screen savers.

Such examples of fictionalised characters range from the pantomime villains of Jeremy Kyle, who provide an integral outlet for the collective subconscious to formulate a general embodiment of hate to generate cohesion within the plot (as any fictional story is only as good as it's villain), to the hyper fictional characters of Celebrity, (real people, portraying fictional characters with fictional problems) such as Jeremy Kyle's Coronation Street special, and Jerry Springer's 'WWE Superstars' Most Intimate Relationships, Revealed.'

Like the rhizome and like the screen saver, our culture flows opaquely past our dazzling eyes, as we are rhythmically hypnotised by ridiculousness, and sold counterfeit perspectives at fantastic prices.

Jack Kerouac on Steve Allen Woody Allen on Dick Cavett

We are seemingly incapable of dealing with the real, as in the Lacanian sense it is too traumatic to realise, it is outside of the linguistic constructs and thus, has no symbolic representation. Which might be one of the reasons why, when one of Jeremy Kyle's guests infamously head butted a man, suspected of sleeping with his wife, the audience was left speechless, as nature revealed itself quietly, leaving us stupid and twiddling thumbs frantically. Because we seek entertainment and not reality, it gives rise to the Baudrillardian reality of simulation, where the third order of simulacra (a copy without an original) appears more faithful than the world around us, and reduces reality to the flickering shadows of twilight. Jean Luc Goodard on Dick Cavett Frank Zappa on Mike Douglas ture=related I’m Sleeping With My Stepsister o2gKHw&feature=related WWE Intimate Relationships ure=related Jeremy Kyle Coronation Street Special

Ecce Homo 3.0  

Talk Show Essay