On the heels of the Viacom debacle, comes news that Geffen and Interscope Records are merging and laying off 60 employees, just in time for Christmas. Them we have the writers strike and falling DVD sales. Media across the board is getting hammered. Hell, the American Dream is being hammered.
Back in the 80's, when manufacturing jobs began to pull up stakes and move overseas we were assured that service and tech jobs would replace them. But now those jobs are leaving. America's primacy in the media was supposed to be our last resort, but traditional media is dying in the Internet Age. I've seen a lot of people rejoice in the record industry's decline, and to be sure the industry brought most of its problems on itself, but what's next? When media is pirated it puts people out of work. By the same token, when corporate committees put together a parade of dull, meaningless films, TV shows, records, and magazines, the sheer ennui of it all alienates people. It makes people depressed and angry. It makes people pirate out of spite. But the end result of all of this flagrant self-interest on both sides of the media equation is a soul-deadening non-culture.
We've had GenX and its gleeful, second-hand nihilism. We've had the canonization of consumer culture by the Religious Right. We've had the exploitative pseudo-patriotism of the neocons. People in the culture industry- which, let's face it, is everyone to some extent or another these days- have to stop and figure out what is meaningful and important about our culture. What we want it to say. If it's just mere entertainment, then it will die by its own hand. All art, all culture has to convey meaning, or it's useless. I know everyone wants to be cool and hip and aloof, but those put-on poses are all tickets to the graveyard when you're talking about culture. And when culture dies, society is sure to follow.