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A line from Don Hertzfeldt's Rejected, the funniest cartoon ever made.

In America, we are raised with the mentality that the value of a person comes from the things they buy. The more you can afford to have, the better you've done in life.

Little reference is made to the price we pay for this consumer culture. I have lived in it for over 20 years and only now am I starting to see the reality.

While reading Fast Food Nation my eyes were opened to the fact that the price we pay for goods doesn't reflect what they really cost society as a whole. That 99 cent hamburger is subsidized by exploiting fast food workers at sub-humane wages, and the many immigrants at slaughterhouses doing some of the most dangerous work there is. Not to mention all the corners cut by meat processors.

We, as the general populace seldom get to see this side of big business since a few corporations run the media. Check it out, the major holdings of just a few of the big boys... it scared me:

  1. Disney - ABC, ESPN, History Channel, A&E, E! (Partial), Lifetime (Partial), Disney Channel, Miramax, Touchstone Pictures, Fairchild Publications, Chilton Publications, Hollywood records, 10 television stations, and 21 radio stations
  2. AOL Time Warner - CNN, WB, Headline News, CNNfn, TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, The Cartoon Network, HBO, Cinemax, 50% of Comedy Central and a controlling stake in Court TV, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinemas, Castle Rock Entertainment, Time Magazine, People Magazine, Sports illustrated, 22 other magazines, 50% of DC Comics, Warner Music, the largest cable system in the United States, and the second largest publishing business in the US, America OnLine, Compuserve, Netscape, MoviePhone, and interests in Hasbro and Atari
  3. News Corp. - Fox, Twentieth Century Fox, 132 Newspapers including the New York Post, fx, fxM, Fox Sports Net, and the Family Channel, TV Guide Channel (44%), National Geographic channel (50%), HarperCollins General Book Group, Regan Books, Amistad Press, William Morrow & Co., Avon Books, theStreet.com
  4. Viacom - CBS, UPN, MTV Network, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, TV Land, CMT, TNN, VH1, Noggin (joint venture with Children's Television Workshop), Showtime Networks, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Sundance Channel (joint venture with Robert Redford and Universal Studios), FLIX, SET Pay-Per-View (sporting and entertainment events), BET, Comedy Central (joint venture with AOL Time Warner), Paramount, Spelling Entertainment Group (80%), Big Ticket Television, Viacom Productions, King World Productions, Simon & Schuster, MTV Books, 16 CBS-affiliated stations, 19 UPN-affiliated stations, Paramount Pictures MTV Films, Nickelodeon Movies, Infinity Broadcasting (owns and operates over 180 stations)
  5. Sony - Columbia TriStar Domestic Television, Columbia TriStar International Television, Sony Pictures Family Entertainment, Telemundo Group (partial ownership)...

This list is becoming too long to compile and probably tedious for you to read, so let me just say that these people are the gatekeepers... fewer than 8 companies decide what most of us get to see and hear. They like to show us things that are profitable.

Ads from other large corporations are profitable.

Showing things that discredit their sponsors is not profitable... So until further notice, Disney will remain butt-buddies with Ronald McDonald, the news will only show you what sells, ads will be implanted in your subconscious mind, and there is not a god damn thing any of us alone can do about it.

We have ended up with an informational corporate oligarchy that manipulates us to profit.

I'm just going to sit here with my Oakley shoes and Ikea furniture and figure out what to do... Because despite everything, until there is a better option, I'm still a consumer whore.

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