In the discussions below we have described a large herd out there, the unthinking majority of Americans, as “the 95%.” Some think that too generous. Perhaps half of the adults are easily herded into voting booths. They can easily be reduced to ridiculous debates about whether one of two despicable candidates, say Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, offers a better choice.
Half doesn’t bother to vote. Some might take comfort in that, as it is the proper choice. I doubt, however, that the decision is a result of critical thought. They are just distracted by poverty, football, substance abuse, entertainment and low-paying repetitive jobs that destroy their minds. The sad conclusion is that the 95% are hopelessly under control, so that from the standpoint of those in power, their only task is to isolate them from the minority of people who do learn how to reason and solve problems.
The means by which they have done this is diabolically clever. The 95% are warned not to use their brains, not to question perceived reality, as it leads to “conspiracy theories,” which are always wrong. Most people sincerely believe that critical thinking is a bad thing. So the sheep safely graze.
In our most recent staged event, the Las Vegas massacre, we have had a debate in the comments about whether there are no real casualties or some. I conclude that there are none, and not even any injuries save something entirely accidental.
Tyrone*, in his post below, Controlling the Aftermath, has given us examples of how the medical facilities, “vicsims” and ambulances are controlled as part of the larger play. One commenter noted that four Air Force surgeons were brought in to deal with the large number of casualties, so that the trauma wing was under control. We all know the news media is just a branch of the state, and does everything but report actual news.
*Tyrone has also hit hard in the comments, this one especially useful, in my view.
All the rest of the actors in the aftermath are doing their jobs, from stand-ups switching from comedy to lamentation to talk show hosts going into long impassioned rants. Politicians do somber strolls and flyovers. (Social media are now being used to introduce an old advertising technique, the “endorsement,” or bringing in an authoritative source to recommend a product. This is done by spreading rumors about someone … who knew someone … who had a cousin who … had a son that was killed.) The herd knows not to follow-up on that or question it, as that would be a conspiracy theory. All is normal in Fantasy Land.
The one aspect of a mass fake event that has troubled us is the large crowds that had assembled in Las Vegas, or at the Boston Marathon. They would easily see if the event was real or fake. They would see dead bodies … or not. They would hear gunfire, see flashing lights and ambulances and see blood and chaos. How can they be kept under control?
There are a whole range of possibilities for dealing with large crowds of non-participants. I am opting for the extreme, that no one dies, no one is wounded, no laws are broken. Here are some possibilities:
- Mass shooting are real events that happen spontaneously. Watch yer back. (This is the 95%, or herd position.)
- Even though mass shootings are fake, they involve an interface between planners, actors and the general public. Though unintentional, people are sometimes injured and sometimes die.
- Mass shooting are fake, but planners are blasé about human life, and so waste a few real victims. If people get injured, so much the better to sell the event. They use some real bullets but participants know to duck.
- Mass shootings are real, but staged. The killers are drugged zombies lured into to committing the crimes. Innocent bystanders are killed and wounded. So what?
- Mass shootings are sometimes real, sometimes fake, as situations allow. Real mass shooting are spontaneous, while fake ones are merely copycats. Since there is a shortage of real events, they are augmented by fake ones.
- Mass shootings are fake, no one is killed for real, and no laws are broken. (This is my position except that I am not sure about the law factor. This is where Tyrone’s comments have been useful.)
- Mass shootings are fake, and no matter how large the crowd, all participants are actors.
Here is a list of recent events that share some common characteristics:
- Waco (1995)
- Columbine (1999)
- The Madrid train bombings (2004)
- The London subway attack (2005)
- The Oslo massacre (2011)
- Sandy Hook (2012)
- Charlie Hebdo (2015)
- Westminster Bridge (2017).
I could go on. These events, in my view, are all hermetically sealed. The settings were under control, so that planners need not worry about innocent bystanders or witnesses. Crowd control was not an issue. TV news did its job in making these events come to life, or better said, death. Police, seen by outsiders as trying to protect the public and apprehend evildoers, are in reality paramilitary forces who control the sets and prevent outsiders from wandering on or in.
Here are some recent events of a larger nature:
- Oklahoma City (1995)
- 911 (2001)
- Boston Marathon (2013)
- Paris (2015)
- Brussels (2016)
- Las Vegas (2017)
Witnesses and spectators were everywhere, or so it seemed. (In reality, the witnesses we saw on TV for these events were actors filmed in advance. But there were real witnesses we never heard from.) These events do not appear to have been sealed off, so that there is an intermingling of genuine witnesses and actors.
How to control the witnesses? They are unwittingly made into participants. The tool: Television (and by extension, computer screens).
Marshall McLuhan, an oddball Canadian college professor who died in 1980, made his name by breaking down media into its effects on those who use it. “The medium is the massage,” he said with his quirky humor. He broke it down into:
- “Hot” media, where the message is presented in high-definition so that the recipient does not have to use great effort to participate. This would include movies, radio, photos. This is lazy viewing and listening.
- “Cool” media, where definition is low and the recipient of the message has to dive in, to participate, to become part of it. This would include cartoons (think of such low-definition characters as those in South park, mere walking circles), telephone, speeches, and television. This kind of media takes more work.
In our mass shooting events consider that “witnesses” don’t really see very much. They cannot, as their range of vision is limited. In Las Vegas on a flat terrain the mass of witnesses only had to be given the sound of gunfire, some screaming, and perhaps some actors falling down. This all would have happened as they were making their exit, so that they were possibly in a state of concern and curious about what had happened. They would not find out until later that they had witnessed something horrible, so there was no “stampede,” and no panic.
What did they do? They made their way to the nearest bar or went home to turn on the TV. Smart phones now supplant TV to a degree, so that in very short order after the event they are brought into it. “There’s been a massacre! I was there! I was part of it!”
The phenomenon that follows is critical: The images on the screen become the reality they left behind at the event. They are no longer witnesses. They are participants.
I continually fall back on Columbine, as I spent so much time with it. The two mass murderers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, were ghosts. They did not exist. But if you talk to Columbine students of that era, they were real. They even knew them. TV did that. I call it the “Columbine Effect,” as even as those kids saw nothing, they went home, turned on the TV, and became participants.
McLuhan missed high-definition TV and smart phones (still cool media in my view) and the Internet (which for news purposes merely augments TV). But little has changed.
We have all seen images of what dogs might see on a TV screen, a haze of moving lines. In fact, the lines would be a haze to us too had they not been carefully timed to interface with our own internal flicker rates. TV images flow by at a rate of one every 1/30th of a second, a speed which allowed our brains to interpret what is on the screen and to participate in making those images come to life.
But the images are still opaque and two-dimensional, even on high-definition devices. We need to jump into our screens to make them real. And we do. We enter our screens.
It is my contention that no matter the number of spectators at an event like Las Vegas, they didn’t see much. Events move fast. Rumors spread quickly. People were on their way out. This is all by design. What they saw and heard was intended to be seen and heard. It was then up to them to fill in the blanks, and take ownership of the event, to become participants. Mass psychology is so well understood that it is all predictable and manageable.
Staging an event like Las Vegas is not as difficult as it first appears. A certain amount of site preparation is necessary, visual effects like making sure the area is heavily littered had to be done. There had to be simulated gunfire. Shots of dead bodies, filmed in advance, made their way to TV that night. People see video snippets on YouTube of what are said to be small parts of the large event, and again, as participants, fill in the details for themselves. They were there! They saw it all!
It is said that TV (and by extension, the computer screen) is a hypnotic device. Indeed, I have seen young children watching TV, and it does not just entertain them, it absorbs them. It is as if they are in a trance. For adults the result is the same with an exception of degree only. We do not actually go into a trance, but we become more suggestible. If the TV says that jet aircraft can fly through buildings like Wile E. Coyote through a canyon wall, Isaac Newton be damned, it is possible. TV supplants reality, and in mass terror events, supplies it to onlookers who then think they actually witnessed it.
I maintain that small terror events are sealed and under tight management, while large events are equally under control, with herd manipulation used to convince participants of the reality of the event.