Big Media: We Are The Sioux Nation – Google Is Custer

As the giant multi-national media conglomerates continue to grow, they are becoming even more brazen in their ambition and arrogance. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., in the midst of a proposed acquisition of Dow Jones, doesn’t intend to slow down. The president of Fox Entertainment, Peter Chernin, spoke at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference yesterday and declared that

This is a market that Murdoch and his ilk do not intend abandon to the unwashed hordes of a free blogiverse.

“You’ll see more acquisitions. This is a world where the big get bigger. You’ll see increased consolidation.”

That statement should not be construed as an executive assessment of future corporate activity. It is a threat. It is a loaded missile launcher aimed at free thinking, independence minded citizens of America and the world. These words must be taken as seriously as the man who uttered them.

Even as Chernin spoke, his boss News Corp. was in the process of gobbling up Photobucket, an image storage and sharing web site. While this may not be as consequential as the Dow Jones deal, it does give Fox’s Interactive Media group another 41 million users and advances the imperial interests of its MySpace division. The impact of this should not be underestimated. In this morning’s, release of its quarterly earnings, Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers predicted that

“…consumer Internet traffic will surpass corporate traffic for the first time this year ‘because of next-generation services such as blogs and wikis.’

This is a market that Murdoch and his ilk do not intend abandon to the unwashed hordes of a free blogiverse. Time Warner CEO, Dick Parsons spoke at the same NCTA conference where he boastfully vowed that he and his corporatist troops will not surrender ground to upstarts and insurgents:

“The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation. They will lose this war if they go to war. The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.”

It is somewhat beyond ironic that Parsons would align himself analogously with the oppressed and overwhelmed nation of Native Americans when he has so much more in common with a clueless general fighting for an aggressive and imperialistic state. His words reek with hostility toward a new media world he seems incapable of comprehending. This is not the first eruption of Parsons’ cluelessness. He was quoted in Siva Vaidhyanathan’s book, The Anarchist in the Library, defending corporate dominion over creative and intellectual property and making the absurd and repulsive assertion that such authority is a requirement for the advancement of culture:

“This isn’t just about a bunch of kids stealing music. It’s an assault on everything that constitutes cultural expression of our society. If we fail to protect and preserve our intellectual property system, the culture will atrophy. And the corporations won’t be the only ones hurt. Artists will have no incentive to create. Worst-case scenario: the country will end up in a sort of Cultural Dark Age.”

If Parsons thinks that the reasons artists create is for material compensation, he has no business running a company that represents artists. His astonishingly ignorant point of view deserves an extended essay all its own. For now I’ll just link to this well articulated response from The Future of the Book.

Unfortunately, the Cultural Dark Age to which Parsons alludes is a very real possibility, though not for the reasons he suggests. It is corporations like the one he heads that will lead us over that cliff. Big Media still has more in common with Custer’s army than with the Sioux. The difference is that in today’s theater of war Custer’s reinforcements would be a phone call away and the Sioux nation would be reduced to rubble. That’s kind of the way it turned out anyway, it would just happen faster today.

The commoditization of culture is much more harmful to open societies than is its free distribution. The American Idolization of America presents a truly nightmarish scenario that trivializes creativity and expression. And as the media behemoths expand beyond all proportion, there is a risk of the bubble bursting like a car bomb in the marketplace of ideas.


4 thoughts on “Big Media: We Are The Sioux Nation – Google Is Custer

  1. How could it be any more consolidated? All of our media are already compressed into the hands of five CEO’s.

    What this clown is saying is that eventually, all the media will be under the control of one humongous corporation in which any opinion that dissents from the Chairman and/or CEO will be squeezed out and whatever we learn through the media will be merely what they want us to hear.

    In the book world, when publishers and media groups consolidate, we writers know that will only limit markets and fewer writers will get published. Fewer titles will become available to readers.

    In the news game, why shouldn’t it work out differently? Two or three anchors, one view for one populace. What could be any neater than that?

    Of course, if and when that happens, you won;t have news, you’ll have out and out propaganda doled out by a small handful of kingmakers who will be courted by every politician who wants their fucking campaign ads aired.

  2. How could it be any more consolidated?

    For one thing, the five families can buy up new media properties to gain control over the Internets (and they are). Other than that, there are still independent outlets that could get swallowed. Even big ones like the Wall Street Journal.

    It will be tough, but not impossible, to roll back these guys.

  3. Perhaps the Custer metaphor is actually appropriate…

    Big Media are the critters who inherited this land (the land of informing the public) and they’ve been around for longer, just as the native Americans were in America first. Custer was a representative of a new culture in the land, armed with strange new powerful technology. Perhaps Big Media will attempt and succeed at crushing Google and the popular social media sites, but the Sioux nation is no more. In the end, the side Custer represented, dominated.

  4. The Custer metaphor swings in every direction at once.

    Is Big Media Custer because they represent a giant and powerful entity? Or are they the Sioux because they represent the fading powers of the past?

    Is New Media Custer because they are about to be defeated by an overwhelming force? Or are they the Sioux because, in the end, they will lose to an even bigger force?

    Part of my problem with Parsons’ comment is that, no matter how you look at it, it doesn’t hold together.

Comments are closed.