It's hard with all that sixth-order navel-gazing and water-cooler fellatio and gripping boardroom oratory on the weekdays to keep up with what's actually going on at Media Level Zero. You know, like on TV and stuff. Thus, TiVo Theosophy, in which our special correspondent Daniel Luxemburg, who may or may not own a television, momentarily steps out of the geist-glow to tell us what it all means. And why to go on anyway. Or not. Consider him a First Life avatar.
Remember when movies had to have release dates pushed back so that the Twin Towers could be airbrushed out lest they cause terrifying terrorism flashbacks? Well, no more! NBC's Heroes, the show about ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, returned from hiatus last week for the final five-episode arc of its first season. Tagline: "It's time to save the world." What from? Someone blowing themselves into a mushroom cloud and destroying all of New York, that's what.
This coming Monday night's Heroes episode — sorry, chapter — "Five Years Gone" has a much more titillating promo all for itself: "Their mission is to save the world, but what would happen... IF THEY FAILED!?" The five-years-in- the-future trick pretty effectively shuts up any sensitivity concerns. I mean, five years after the original (actual) "NYC DEVASTATED" headlines, CNN rebroadcast their whole day of apocalypse coverage just like back when it was originally (actually) happening. If that went okay, then surely no one will be scar(r)ed Monday night.
Of course, GE's media wing is probably powerful enough to accidentally will apocalypse into being. At least, that's what the presumably hundreds of thousands of "Heroes 360 Experience" fans must believe. Continuing to shamelessly crib from LOST (whose paltry Experience doesn't even specify the extent of its angle) Heroes has its reality pretty soundly verified on the Internet. Look: there's a real website for the innocent paper company with the nefarious underbelly! And you can gamble at evil Malcolm McDowell's evil casino! It's fake money, but if you fake blackjack your way to 325 grand you can get REAL text messages about something, well, secret, and thus REAL.
Obviously, the dystopian future in Heroes is ruled with an iron fist by a New York politician. But! It's not who you think. All of a sudden, not-so-made-up Nathan Petrelli is hunting down beloved heroes for being "terrorists" and ruining democracy. "I'm the leader of the free world," the president insists to his hot daughter. "I'm the most special person there is!" Clearly, fact and fiction are pretty close on current First Family Electra-complex issues.
None of that's particularly fresh though, and Heroes hasn't been pulling in the numbers it did during its initial days of wide-eyed, not-yet-confusing, anyone-whose-anyone-watchesness. The network knows that, and the show's larger pataphysical scheme has other ways to boost ratings. If urban mass destruction doesn't get the dopamine flowing, the execs can just reach further back and revive "old school" collective traumas. Isn't it a little suspicious that NBC just had a massively channel change-inducing exclusive literally mailed in to their newsroom?
Stick with me here: Hiro Nakamura, sword-wielding nerdy Asian hEro, who is personally responsible for something like 33 Ground Zeroes, basically blogged — yes, the character blogged — a more whimsical version of the scary "media packet" sent by one Mr. Seung-Hui Cho before anyone even got hurt. Compare for yourself (and remember to use racism):
HIRO'S BLOG (from NBC): "Once drowned within homogeneity, yearned to be special. Found air to drown myself bearing a mark."
CHO'S MESSAGE (for NBC): "You could have been great. I could have been great. Ask yourself what you did to me to have made me clean the slate."
HIRO: "Final Message—A mask bound by fortune on death row."
CHO: "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today, but you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option."
The last one is especially shocking since Hiro's job is to go back in time and prevent bad things from happening. Does Cho = evil, actual Hiro? Are terrorists good or bad? Cho's artwork is as illuminating as it is curvy:
No wonder NBC Universal changed the epi-chapter title to "Five Years On" from its original name: yes, you guessed it, "String Theory." A complex business, to say the least. Even if you don't flee the city with those who think that television is bound up in the "many-worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, at least one thing is certain: 'WARE THE PEACOCK AMERICA... 'ware the peacock...