Monday, October 10, 2011

Government vs. U2, Round Three (UK TV vs. Bono)

After Bono was hounded over taxes and Edge denied a California building permit, you’d think U2 might finally start writing Tea Party anthems instead of mining-union tearjerkers about the day “when an honest man makes an honest wage,” etc. (let us pause, as we should each day, to remember with delight Thatcher’s heroic willingness to crush the miners union).

But now government is really hitting Bono where he lives: the NGO (Clearcast) created as a direct result of British government regulations to be a single clearing house for all commercial-TV advertising in the UK is denying him permission to run an ad on TV about African famine on the grounds that it’s too political.  I suggest avoiding this problem by not having government-run media (which in this case led to a homogeneous oligopoly of specially-approved commercial alternatives a half-century ago in much the same way that congressional pressure in the U.S. at about the same time led to the creation of the nominally-private-sector Comics Code Authority that censored comics). 

The whole conflict may yet get spun as evil corporations trying to silence poverty-fighting messiah Bono (I admit it’s complex, and I’ve long since learned to assume that any sufficiently complex social phenomenon will be spun as an anti-market fable).  But it wouldn’t have arisen in a real free market in the first place.  Just let a truly diverse market show whatever its myriad owners – including Al Gore – want to, and it’s unlikely companies would have banded together to self-censor.  There might well be an all-Bono channel by now if the UK hadn’t lazily consigned itself to semi-socialized television. 

The needs of “ONE” in this case should outweigh the purported needs of the many.  To be clear, I’m not presuming to say what any given station’s ad policy should be.  I’m calling for abolishing things like the BBC and government-spawned ratings agencies so that the question does not arise.  (The point would stand even if the BBC in this case became the only channel showing the Bono ad.)

Only when there are no more public or publicly-controlled airwaves will there be an end to censorship, and only when private alternatives do not have to beg government for permission to function will they stop trying to prove that they can function in a wholesome, community-minded, public-access-providing, apolitical fashion, with all the stifling effects that inevitably implies. 

Of course, if it just happened to be the (unlikely) case that even in a diverse market no one wanted to show Bono’s ad, I suspect he’d have the means to get the word out some other way.  And he’d be closer to having that all-Bono channel already if U2 hadn’t spent the second half of its career sucking. 

P.S. At this point, you might be expecting me to link to something from their ONE great decade, the 80s, sort of like the Seth MacFarlane of libertarian bloggers.  I vowed I’d mix things up a little era-wise, though, so here’s “Elevation” (from the lame Tomb Raider movie, let us not forget), video by Joseph Kahn, whose sister knows me but who, more important, nearly directed a movie version of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, after giving us the motorcycle epic Torque (and even Tomb Raider, for which he was not responsible, had that kick-ass robot fight in the first scene).  

1 comment:

Todd Seavey said...

Let me add that some altruist has put online a montage of the most ridiculous action sequences from _Torque_, and they are beautiful: