Saturday, April 26, 2008

Earth Day Follow-up

I watch Leno every night to see which candidate is being lampooned and to watch the overall change in attitudes since Jerry Lester had the Tonight show. What, you don’t remember Jerry Lester? Although Jack Paar was credited with being the originator of the long running show (55 years) it was Jerry Lester who occupied the time slot in the early fifties. He and his trusty foil, Dagmar, pioneered the concept and the television audience embraced the schtick.

The subsequent changes have been huge. Paar, once chided for using the expression “water closet” in the act has been replaced by those who show no hesitation is using any form of crude language short of George Carlin’s famous list of “words you can’t say on TV”— which sometimes are said anyway. Further, no person is off limits when it comes to dealing scorn, innuendo, and false impressions. It’s called “freedom of speech.” Your individual response will be gauged by whose ox is being gored. George Bush’s ignorance, Arnold’s accent, Bill’s peccadilloes, Hillary’s cackle, Craig’s foot tapping, and Trump’s hair, are all revisited in the opening monologue.

The failure of an American Idol contestant is acknowledged by the audience with a round of raucous cat calls and boos. A comment on an important issue of the day before the court or the congress nets the observation of the audience sitting on their hands. But, this week, seriousness has come over the show. It is the “sacredness” of Earth Day which has been conveniently expanded into “Earth Week.” Not so much a celebration but rather an observation of the day, it has been the highlight of the program. It is treated with great respect and a level of demeanor which is rarely afforded to any event or person. This change in presentation causes us to pause and wonder why.

The say, “follow the money.” Okay, let’s do it. NBC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the gigantic General Electric Corporation. This huge conglomerate made a corporate decision some years ago, when Jack Welch was replaced by Jeffrey Immelt as CEO, to get on the ecological bandwagon and rightly foresaw the future of “going green.” Seeing a financial opportunity, it both started up and expanded upon various sub-companies to ramp up their presence in this ever expanding portion of the market place. Given the immense size of their operations, the vast array of fields to exploit was endless. Their interests are not just confined to the outright manufacture of “green” products but also extend to supplying critical parts and systems.

That screwy light bulb which has the ecologists agog and will soon be mandatory—by the US congress—is made by GE. Systems for electric powered automobiles are made by GE. Gigantic wind turbines for the generation of renewable power (highly subsidized) are a product of GE. Water filtration systems and water conserving washing machines are manufactured by GE. Nuclear power components for use here in the US and in foreign countries are a staple of the GE inventory. In transportation, both fuel efficient jet engines and the new Evolution locomotive were developed by GE. Even a replacement for paint with a film is soon coming on line for GE. These are just a few of the developments which GE hopes will transform their operations from eco-tragedy to king of the ecological hill.

Before you become all misty eyed about GE’s contribution to Gaia, let me assure you that there is an excellent reason for their ardor. The company announced that their progress in the field will result in an extension of the $10,000,000,000 sales in 2004 to reasonably expand to $20,000,000,000 by the year 2010. Their profit margin, variously reported to be in excess of 10%, exceeds that of the much maligned oil companies.

When you read your act off a teleprompter, you have a contractual obligation to read what’s written. I always try to keep in mind that what ever is said on the television is the result of input from the writers and not the performers. Even off-the-cuff remarks by game show contestants are subject to editing, revision, or complete erasure if they become inappropriate.. From personal experience I will share that one spends more time with the legal department before a taping than is spent during the show itself. About the only thing left for the performer is the nuance of delivery. Therefore, the input from the owner of the show, the advertisers and the management are what control the dialog.

Since GE owns the network and stands to benefit from emphasis on matters ecological it makes sense they would place undue emphasis on the proceedings. Before I am accused of “corporation” bashing allow me to mention I think that progress to ameliorate the problems facing our collective environment are laudable. I would much rather see that progress from a profit oriented corporation than a tax and spend government. Almost without exception the great achievements and innovations of mankind have been motivated by some guy trying to make a buck. Some happen by accident—the microwave is probably the best example—but most are achieved by a desire to fill a market niche.

It’s all part of the multi-million dollar ad campaign to promote “Ecomagination.” Since they still face an outlay of over 460 million to rid the Hudson River of PCBs deposited there years ago by careless waste removal at one of their facilities, they need all the good press than can afford to buy. Part of that will come from airing the Olympic Games on NBC Universal from China which has promised an $85 billion clean up by the start of the games. GE will be a prime supplier of systems to aid in the clean up.

Why should I bother to waste your time and mine in commenting on this? It’s simple; I feel an obligation to encourage you to look past the obvious and seek the inner workings of that which is occurring all around us. It’s not enough to accept that which the media would feed us. Check it out, double check, find the motives, learn the truth and actually be informed on every thing you can. In the miraculous world of communication today you have the tools readily available to do just that. All you need is the will and the few minutes it takes. This applies equally to business, government, education, politics, medicine, and I really hate to mention it—religion. Find out for yourself. What is the agenda?

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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