Mike Firesmith on the Modern Mind: The Zombie Channel

Posted on August 31, 2012


By Mike Firesmith

I didn’t own a television from 1982 to 1994. I never much liked television, and the shows I couldn’t live without were incredibly outnumbered by those I suspected of causing brain damage. I suppose that with the advent of internet broadcasting I might be heading towards never watching another sitcom again for as long as I live. The idea that I can choose to watch endless hours of educational programs on pay-monthly internet sites has a strong appeal. Of course, this has nothing to do at all with the physical device known as the television, but rather the way device has been used as a social medium controlled entirely by the sponsors.

Television was once something that children were not allowed to watch for too long or too often, because parents believed it to be bad for kids. But as soon as those kids grew up and had kids of their own, television became a sort of electronic babysitter. With the development of cable and satellite channels, there was always something to entertain the children while the grown-ups did whatever they were doing when they were not raising kids. A generation or so ago, we Americans turned our youth over to the television so they could learn how to dress, what to eat, what to need, what to want, what to believe, and how to think. It hasn’t gotten much better since then.

Reading began making a comeback with the Harry Potter series. Children rediscovered the magic of the printed word in an amazing way. Scores of children, young adults, and even adults read the books, and none of the books were short or poorly written. There was real hope at that point that reading would continue to rise, and I suspect that in some small way it has. But what we read and how we read has changed forever, and the value of that change isn’t readily clear.

What is clear at this point is there is no nutritional value to fast food. The lunch specials are nothing more than a recipe for heart disease, obesity, and sloth. The creation of High Fructose Corn Syrup will go down in history as one of the single most damaging invention of humankind. The idea that high sodium meat, HFCS liquid sugar, white bread, and potatoes pre-injected with vegetable oil that are then fried, is a meal was sold to us in the guise of expediency. It is a national mindset to believe that eating this alleged food isn’t poison. The same can be said of what we feed our minds when we watch television. It is exactly the same product in a different form. In the name of our minds having something to do, we sit and stare at programming designed to sell advertising for fast food or some product or idea equal to it. This is a poison just as surely as a sixty-four ounce soft drink loaded with a substance our bodies cannot digest in any useful form.  It is an intellectual poison.

Back in the seventies and eighties television was all about the thirty-minute situation comedy, or the sit com. It consisted of a canned laugh track, some sort of moral dilemma, resolution of the dilemma, and a happy ending. One quarter of the half hour show was dedicated to commercials which were usually thirty or fifteen second clips. Advertisers began to realize they could target very specific demographic groups with tailor-made commercials, and it was not long after that that even the programming itself was more or less a set up for advertising. The influence that the advertisers came to wield over our culture was without precedent. It was not merely an influence over what goods we wanted to buy, the food we wanted to eat, or the clothes we were told were fashionable, but advertising became a delivery system for how our minds functioned in relationship to stimuli. Our attention spans decreased as the amount of intellectual poison we were fed and we consumed increased.

Today’s programming is dominated by “reality” shows which we are led to believe are spontaneous and real. The truth is, all of these episodes are carefully scripted and produced just like any other programming a viewer might find anywhere else. The production costs in television are not geared towards time wasted in plot development or some character’s wants or needs. Action must take place, events must happen, and the drama must build all according to a formula, and it does each and every time. In between are commercials geared to feed the emotions that the programming has created.  Reality would intrude upon this and if you think anyone in the television business will lose money in the name of reality, you have been watching too much television.

A host of so-called celebrities have been created by “reality” shows and not a one of them has a single redeeming virtue to offer their adoring fans. Most of them are as genuine as a Barbie Doll and entire families have been sold off as something to pay attention to and watch simply because someone else is doing so. There is an incredible amount of pressure on very young girls to fit into a mold that is computer generated and surgically enhanced. We are being sold an ideal that doesn’t exist and we are being sold alleged food that makes reaching that ideal even more impossible than it already was to begin with. All of this, every bit of it, is based on the idea that “reality” is what we see on television and most assuredly, that has never been more untrue than it is today.

Everything from the food we eat to the liquids we drink to the media we immerse ourselves in, all of it, is based on the idea that we will pay very good money for nothing at all. The very best we can hope for is for our bodies and minds to waste away along with our time. The worst we can expect is to fully buy into the illusion, which the next generation will have no preconditioned defenses against at all.

The Zombie Apocalypse is already here and we are it.

Take Care,



See more of Mike Firesmith’s work at The Hickory Head Hermit.