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It seems suiting that since capitalism has erected its own code of ethics, it should continue by giving life to new archetypes. One in particular is what we will call “the contaminated hero”-an individual so sickened by the current system that they seek to wake up the masses by infiltrating mass media, and letting the truth be known. This “hero” inevitably falls all too soon into the trap of infection and degradation that only capitalism can offer. Both a new comic, Channel Zero, and Immediatism by Hakim Bey address the issue of pure intentions drained of life by the vampyric system of mass media and corporate domination.
While in San Fransisco, I picked up Immediatism at the Anarchist Collective and within half an hour, happened upon the most exciting comic I had yet to see. Written by Brian Woods, Channel Zero is a fresh look at the too near future of censorship, information overload and the sub-culture which thrives from these. Woods combines hard-edged illustrations, narratives, dialogue, and the occasional news report to convey america as the new fascist homeland-a nation ruled by “The Clean Act”. Under this new legislation, full on censorship is enforced and the First Amendment os obliterated. From the heart of the East Village student protest movement, Jennie 2.5 was spawned.
A performance artist out of work from The Clean Act, Jennie 2.5 sets out the dark bars of (post-Guillani) New York where they support a “tech black-market”. Her aim is to shake up the zombified masses through transmission of her own pirate TV show. The inevitable traps into which she must fall, have already been set. After six-months of broadcasting (what end up to be repetitious and lackluster) shows, Jennie 2.5’s greatest fear is there in her face-waiting to devour her….
Hakim Bey states it most bluntly in Immediatism-
“The Totality isolates individuals & renders them powerless by offering only illusory modes of social expression, modes which seem to promise liberation or self-fufillment but in fact end by producing more mediation and alienation.”
This exact point explains why Jennie’s mission begins mocking itself with corporations trying to advertise, her TV ratings skyrocketing – leaving her wondering if her viewers even know that this is an illegal operation-one in which she is trying to help them. The Totality which Bey mentions is “produced thru mediation & alienation, which attempt to subsume or absorb all creative energies for the Totality.” This leech-like effect can be seen everywhere as supposed radical and rebellious means of expression “can be turned into fodder…for MTV or ads for jeans or perfume.” The mere act of trying to reach people through this apathy box we call a TV, leads to a complete
mash-up of the original intention (if there was any) because it places the content into a safe arena. Jennie 2.5 realizes this yet ignores it, partly because of her martyr mentality – mostly because of her ego.
This is by no means the end of Jennie 2.5 or Channel Zero. Her adventures continue with just as much passion and ingenuity. But maybe if she read Immediatism, she would have figured out that to place her spirit into the vacuum of mass media could only mean one thing…
A diluted message-if any at all.

Illustrations taken from Channel Zero are printed w/permission from Brian Woods.
channel zero published by Image Comics

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