November 2, 2004--Jacinda and I are picking at our food, watching the map of our nation redden on the TV screen at a gut-wrenching rate. "How could anybody," Jacinda asks, "who has halfway been paying attention to anything vote for Bush?" I knew the answer. "It's the 2wenty. The fucking 2wenty."

If you have attended the movies at any of Portland's Regal Cinemas over the past year or two, then you know the 2wenty. It's the barrage of advertisements masquerading as entertainment that you are forced to sit though before that other series of advertisements, previews, starts in.

It would take hundreds and hundreds of pages to fully explain to non-skeptics why and how the government and mega-corporations do not want us paying close attention to their activities. So for the sake of this small column, let's agree that both have vested interests in the general public glossing over issues like our administration's Enron connections, Halliburton scandals, and the behind-closed-doors marriage of church and state.

Enter The 2wenty.

By packaging advertising as pure entertainment, the 2wenty corrodes culture and insults the intelligence of their captive audience. With their relentless commercial assault they create a culture without silence, without thoughtfulness, and one that undervalues human communication.

It is no wonder that 51% of this country can't make an informed decision about the leader of the nation. We are being systematically programmed not to think, not to pay attention, not to have meaningful dialogue, and not to trust anything that isn't sparkly and loud. People complained that John Kerry spoke in long, drawn out sentences that made multiple points. Complained about this! But how can we be surprised that the nation's capacity to think critically has been crippled when billboards for cell phone companies proclaim that "Silence is weird"? This is a very calculated wave of distraction designed to keep our eyes on The Biggest Loser rather than on what's really happening in this country. If everyone started truly paying attention to what's going on, spreading the word, and moving into action, there would be a revolution that would go a lot further than ousting George Bush. But we can start on that one tomorrow. For now, sit back and enjoy this edition of The 2wenty.

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