Friday, January 6, 2012

Banned 14-yr Old SNL Cartoon About Media Ownership Is Even Truer Today

Today, I came across the following cartoon, first (and only) aired by Saturday Night Live 14 years ago. Here's the video, originally from SNL, more recently from, via reddit:

About the video:
The 1998 Robert Smigel animated short film "Conspiracy Theory Rock", part of a March 1998 "TV Funhouse" segment, has been removed from all subsequent airings of the Saturday Night Live episode where it originally appeared. Michaels' claimed the edit was done because it "wasn't funny". The film is a scathing critique of corporate media ownership, including NBC's ownership by General Electric/Westinghouse.
Watch the video - it's no wonder that GE cut the cartoon from all subsequent airings of that SNL episode and has never broadcast it since the first showing. I'm amazed it made it on the air the first time.

And since the cartoon originally aired, concentration of media ownership in the US has only gotten more extreme:


So, it makes sense that GE has tried to ban the cartoon and ensure it never sees the light of day again - it's similar to a situation like the Republicans deciding to run a bunch of TV ads highlighting how screwed the middle class in the US has become ever since the US government started adopting Republican economic policies - all it would accomplish is GE shooting itself in the foot.

But, thanks to the Interwebz, we can spread this video far and wide to remind everyone of the extent to which a few extremely large and powerful corporations shape the public discourse, dictate popular culture, decide what is newsworthy, and can make at least a large minority of people believe almost anything they want - and that it's only going to get worse until Congress and/or the FCC decide to change things. I won't hold my breath.

Want to fight back? Make like me and ditch your TV (and your cable bill). The Internet is a better, more diverse, and more international source of news and entertainment than your TV - though these companies control much of the content online as well. Sigh ...

To learn more about the concentration of media ownership in the USA, check out this infographic, from the University of Minnesota (click on the picture for huge version):

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