“America’s Christmas Tree”

7 Dec

Didn’t realize this was sitting around unpublished for the past few days…

Thousands of people lined the New York City streets on December 3. Police barricades were up and herding foot traffic in a most inefficient manner. Bodies everywhere. Moving nowhere. This was 6 PM – an hour before the Tree Lighting festivities began at the Rockefeller Center.

2 hopped police barricades later and 17 floors up – I’m in One Rock, just above the action with a clear view two of the three performance stages and of course, “America’s Christmas Tree”. At least that’s what the announcers claimed. And for the thousands that thronged the streets in the bitter cold, and millions watching the broadcast – maybe, maybe it really is America’s Tree. Is that the power of the media? For certainly wouldn’t it be more fitting to have America’s Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.? What does it mean when the media invents meanings and images and subsequent identity?

Why is America’s Christmas Tree in New York City? Is this proof that America’s media and commercial identity and agenda trump our political one? What does that mean for our society, our government, or our culture? What does it mean when Disney performers… I won’t name any names… and celebrities perform for three hours before the split second Christmas tree lighting? What does it mean when commercial breaks interrupt the flow, flushing our eyes with images and brands whose only concern is profit margin and the bottom-line? What happened to the tree and why is it in New York City?

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One Response to ““America’s Christmas Tree””

  1. David December 8, 2008 at 12:08 am #

    Ahh, the power of thought. When something potentially quite dull can become interesting, just by considering the actual nature of it. I sense a rhetorical mood to your questions, but I think I agree with your sentiment.

    The tree was covered in far too many ornaments to be able to appreciate it, these ornaments being media. I would go so far as to say that the tree being the guest of honor wasn’t even required for the event to occur! The media is always selling us on something or other… There are countless reasons on why NYC, anywhere between building name recognition for tourism, maintaining name recognition for other reasons, and the list could go on.

    The media has absolute power over many people. They don’t subscribe to the media, they prescribe to it. A subscription is recreational, a prescription medicinal and necessary. They’ve been working for decades on this mentality. The same reason why when people need a tissue they ask for a Kleenex. I bet the people at the Kleenex factory are pretty excited about that.

    People question me with disgust when I tell them I don’t watch the news or read the paper. “Don’t I want to know what’s going on in the world?”. Well, sure, but I can only find that out if *I* go out in the world. Or I can watch the news and see what other people tell me about what’s going on in the world. What happens and the report are two very different things!

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