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Channel Zero

(An excerpt from Warren Ellis’s introduction to the first volume of Channel Zero, a graphic novel by Brian Wood)


Pop Culture rolled over and died some time ago. Some people actually think Marilyn Manson is scary, that Kurt Cobain had something to do with rebellion, that Bret Easton Elliss is a dangerous writer, that it’s a good thing you can buy McDonald’s in Prague, that movies are somehow relevant to our lives.

Television is our stage and our anaesthetic. Real life happens on television in preference to our homes and streets. People resolve their relationships on freakshow chatshows instead of in living rooms or beds or even goddamn bars.

And it spreads. Rupert Murdoch beams his shit into Asia, English children are taught that Z is pronounced Zee by goddamn Barney, and all of a sudden, world cultures become the Monoculture, the same conversations, the same clothes, the same show. All tuned to Channel Zero.

And, all over the world, one by one, we quit fighting it. We sit and we put the book we’re reading down and laugh at the arseholes on Jerry Springer, snigger at Matthew Perry, get our news managed for us by CNN, and suddenly we’re like all the rest. We’re in a cultural lockstep, taking holidays in other people’s misery, asking for our stinking badges, dead heads nodding over phosphordot fixes.

. . .

For all its black and white somber mien, CHANNEL ZERO is, to me, one of the most uplifting comics of the Nineties. CHANNEL ZERO is about winning. It’s about learning how to give a shit again, about finding ways to make things better. It’s about anger as a positive force of creation. It’s about your right to not have to live in the world they’ve built for you.

It’s about turning off the television.