THOLOS OF ATHENA

Sunday, August 20, 2006

SHALL EVEN A FETUS WATCH TV?

Maria Hampton, writing in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue of Adbusters, comments on a new invasive frontier of television. People are fleeing into whole new worlds of solitude within their I-pods, a kind of self-prescribed refuge from TV's inescapable advertising. Clear Channel, the radio playground for the right-wing in the US, is now pioneering one-second ads--not quite brief enough to be subliminal--but sufficient to enter the arc of consciousness and quickly disappear. These ads are all over you, before you can escape, or even decide to escape.

These psychological gambits are increasingly being used to embed consumerist and manipulative structures into the human mind; and there are now indications that the minds being targeted are at ever more formative stages of development. One of the possible cultural repercussions that Hampton raises, as a red flag, is the rising trend of American doctors treating "psychosis" in children as young as eight years, with anti-psychotic drugs that were previously reserved for adults.

New frontiers of Pavlovian conditioning include the "ultimate electronic babysitter", invented by the Nestle company, which is scheduled for marketing this fall. As Hampton describes it: "a videogame that doles out candy". She quotes a marketing expert, James Belcher, as saying , "Games give a more intimate [brand] relationship and every time you play them, the candy's thereā€.

The battle for the mind is beginning long before the child has imprinted language, before parenting is thoroughly underway, and well before the literate process and critical thinking are introduced. Believe it or not, there is now such a thing as BabyFirstTV.

One of the sinister developments Hampton describes is this new baby TV. "Flouting warnings by pediatricians and psychiatrists, corporations are cashing in on TV programs targeted specifically for infants and toddlers"..."Childcare experts such as Dmitri A. Christakis from the University of Washington, however, caution that television for infants "rewires the brain" during a period of irreversible development."

So how long will it be before there's Uterine TV?--and tiny adjustable visors for the developing fetus? Perhaps it's possible to go back further for baby's first brainwashing. Surely the voice of consumer compulsion must have another antecedent, in those deep-frozen cryogenic vats that hold human embryos.

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