Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The saddest show on TV. I know – you're thinking that this probably isn't the actual saddest show on TV, but right now it feels like, well, I was going to say 'a canary in a coal mine' but things have got way past this. It feels more like someone running around holding the cage with the dead bird in it and going "WE'RE FUCKED!"

Presenting: Hardcore Pawn. (8:30pm Wednesdays, 7MATE.)


 This is a show that dramatises the disturbing race and gender politics of America's broken economy. I was shocked by how few non-African-American people are customers at this Detroit pawn shop, and how many of the would-be customers are trying to raise money by selling crap shit with little economic value. Emotions bubble up when they are told it won't fly.

Other people are protesting in Wall Street – it's unclear how many, or how united they are, because we get so many conflicting reports and counter-accusations of distorted reports – and they have a pretty reasonable list of demands that will be familiar to those who've read and seen The Corporation and Inside Job. The only thing that troubles me about the Occupy Wall Street movement is that there is a strong 9/11 conspiracy undercurrent.

My brother miT strongly believes it was a conspiracy, but I try never to engage in discussions with him about this, because after the last time I have been really careful to avoid fighting with him because I know how much it upsets my mother.

Besides, it's pointless. He already 'knows the truth' and doesn't accept anything less than agreement from others (he always tells me I'm "ignorant" or "naive" if I dispute what he says), but paradoxically it was miT's own questioning and scepticism – his refusal to believe the official narrative – that led him to his certainty.

As the book Knowledge Goes Pop points out, conspiracies always oscillate between belief and scepticism – people 'want to believe' but are never satisfied with any 'official' explanation of events. I think it dilutes the power of Occupy Wall Street to bring 9/11 conspiracies into it. For me, it's on stronger turf when it agitates for legislative and institutional reform rather than 'true answers' about 'what really happened'.

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Hardcore Pawn says, "I'll buy that for a dollar!"

Mel, thoroughly enjoying the spurt of blogging. That sounds gross, but I'm enjoying reading your stuff.

Conspiracy theorists are the ultimate in self-fulfilling prophecy. Any information you provide which argues against their firmly-held belief just proves that you're either naive or in on the conspiracy. There's no way to penetrate the wonderful flexibility of mind they have which allows them to twist any piece of evidence into proof that they're right.

If you haven't, I'd recommend reading 'Why People Believe Weird Things' by Michael Shermer, which is all about skepticism and the logical fallacies that people commit.
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