What the Controllers Might Do

by | Dec 18, 2002 | Archives

Yesterday's message looked at the question of controllers and whether they manipulate our lives. (They do). But we didn't consider how they may launch even more intrusive attacks in the years ahead.

We saw in yesterday's message that history suggests that others will increasingly try to control our lives. All nations to date have deteriorated, freedoms have fallen and negative energies have evolved over time. Yet how can we see specifics of this future? How will the controllers attack? Rolf Jensen author of “Dream Society” gave us a clue on where to look for these answers when he wrote that the best place to see the future is the present. What is happening today provides clues of what comes next.

During the past thirty years of writing about international investing and legal structures, I have seen enormous negative (in my opinion) changes in the investment world, considerable loss of privacy and financial freedom. But our finances are only one of the aspects of our lives that controllers will attack.

To better understand what controllers might do, let's look first at censorship in media. Totalitarian governments (or any government that does not work) must censor media. Darkness cannot survive light. But the American media is protected by our constitution. So the government cannot censor our press. Right?

Think again.

The government does not have to censor our media. Someone else is already doing it right now.

Let's begin with the advertising industry as they shift from advertising to product placement and program sponsorship. One of the most profound changes in potential media censorship is taking place right now because of a new use of personal video digital technology called TiVo.

TiVo is an advanced, easy-to-use personal TV service available for as little as $169. TiVo digitally records television shows, without videotape, so you can watch what you want, when you want and allowing you to control your TV viewing in ways never before possible. You can pause, slow motion, or instant replay live TV. Or, with the simple click of a button, you can tell TiVo to automatically find and record your favorite programs every time they airso you don't miss a moment of TV. You can even tell TiVo what you like and don't like, so it can suggest other shows you may want to record and watch, based on your interests. The TiVo remote control also has a three-speed fast forward button that enables you to skim through anything on your TV screen including advertising. This even includes a unique Smart Scan feature that compensates for reaction time when fast-forwarding to ensure you won't overshoot the spot where you resume your program. (I am just writing about this but haven't experienced it because we don't have TV at Merrily Farms!)

This anti-advertising feature has whipped the advertising industry into gear. Madison Avenue has been one of the greatest controllers of this last century. Their most potent weapon has been advertising on T.V. The ads on television have given much of the world their tastes, desires, attitudes, and deepest motivating beliefs. Yet as reported in USA Today's Friday December 20th article, “Rising 'ad skipping' to sink TV ad budgets”. So you can see this is changing.

The article says,

“Three out of four national advertisers say they will cut TV ad spending because of ad skipping by viewers using personal video recorders (PVR or TiVo), according to a study released Monday by Forrester Research and the National Association of National Advertisers. The marketers say they will slash their own budgets as the number of thousands of households owning PVRS is forecast to rise 30 million in the next five years from less than 2 million now. Marketers predict that would cut ad budgets 20% to 40% and two thirds say they will spend more on program sponsorship and product placement, two formats unaffected by the PVRs. According to the format 49% of consumers will have some form of on demand TV by 2007.”

Madison Avenue is not about to give up the influence they have grabbed. Product placement and event sponsorship are two insidious ways they intend to continue their domination of the public ideal.

Product placement means that subtle advertisements are placed right in the script of a TV program or movie. For example Ford Motors paid millions to the producer of the latest James Bond film to make sure that a Ford was the latest Bond car.

Have you noticed how in recent films that actors are once again smoking a lot, even though having the fag dangling does not seem to enhance the character or may even seem to run counter to the character's nature? Chalk the glowing weed trend up to product placement.

Program sponsorships run the gamut from Enron field to all the logos and decals and tags on racing cars, sailing vessels, around-the-world balloons, football and basketball gear, player uniforms, etc. Perhaps the day will come when sports uniforms will be patchwork quilts of logos and all national events such as the Rose Festival Parade, will be the IBM Rose Parade, etc.

The nasty thing about these new ads is that they blur the line between editorial and finance as they weave commerce into creativity and art. Money and creativity in the media have always been at odds. Many a writer has had to fight to get an article published that might run contrary to the interests of a big advertiser.But product placement forces us to be increasingly alert. With ads we know we are being given a pitch and we can choose to look and listen or not. At the least we can watch and listen with a grain of salt.

As this trend grows worse will we see shows like “Marlboro Survivor”, where only smokers get to try to be the winning survivor in some remote spot? Will family T.V. be dominated by the “McDonald Family”, a weekly stories of a happy Brady Bunch family that run a Golden Arch franchise? How about “Everybody Loves Ray, the Ford Mechanic”?

As programming is swamped with commercial interests, innovation and individuality can be stifled. This is already happening. For example Paul Zane Pilzer states in his book “The Wellness Revolution”, that many “leading actors lean toward eating vegetarian diets lacking in processed and addictive fast foods. Yet these societal role models for fitness and beauty are cautioned by their managers not to let their eating habits be known to the press, lest they be boycotted by T.V. producers in an industry where most of their revenue comes from advertisements for processed foods and fast food restaurants.”

This is one of the worst forms of censorship. Leaders of the community are not allowed to state their beliefs and live openly. There is little difference between the economic risk they face and having a censor directly telling them what not to do. Role models that societies need to grow and evolve positively not only are denied the freedom to speak opening, but are forced to hide their light!

Dig deeper. How will the Politicos react when they realize that no one is going to tune into their pathetic TV ads (usually drumming their opponent into the ground). At least some commercial ads are entertaining. No thinking person enjoys political ads. Will we be forced into “Oprah with Al” (oops I guess Al has decided not to run so maybe it will be “Oprah with Tom or George” etc. How does “60 Minutes with Your Republican” sound? Will we see politicians written into the script of “ER” and such drama, where they can unleash their political dialogue amidst the tenseness of the drama?

Already the politicos are the masters of PR. Our news is dominated by what the politicians say and write. Look at the ongoing Trent Lott affair. The Senate leader gave his opponents an inch and they are taking a mile of our time and space. Will TV shows become late minute scripts based on such issues? Will “White House” and similar shows be molded by current administrations just as plays, TV and music have been controlled and molded by totalitarian regimes? This is to be seen but watch the next elections as they will provide clues.

Plus there is the sneaky way that governments manipulate business and consequently affect our media and the daily products we use. Current campaign reform makes it harder for big business to directly buy government officials. Perhaps we'll see a George burger featured at Burger King, etc.

We'll look more at how controllers attack (businesses especially) in tomorrow's message. Then we'll get to the crux of this matter and see what we can do about all this without totally disrupting our lives.

Until then may whatever you do be inspired.