4/1/18

The figure of Moloch appears frequently in popular culture. Originally a rival/false god in the Old Testament, he is most known for being the god to whom parents sacrificed their own children. He is referenced in Lang’s Metropolis when one of the citizens from the affluent rooftops descends to ground level to witness the toils of the proletariat. The soft palmed dreamer’s mind manages to perfectly overlay an epic image of ritual sacrifice over the frame of the factory floors. Moloch pops up again as an entity of capitalist excess in Ginsberg’s Howl, once again reminiscent of Lang with the line “They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heavens.” Most poignantly for our current times, Moloch appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a demon that lived in the internet from where he demanded the sacrifice and devotion of lonely, young nerds. Nowadays, it’s not just the nerds that are ensnared in the web, or at least the current popular interfaces of the web. This time the sacrificed children are our thoughts and creations that Moloch profits from. We believe that we are doing a good thing, that this sacrifice will bring good things to us. Our words may damn them but our practice continues to feed them. A good performance in front of fifty punters is seen as less valuable than a video of that performance on YouTube with its promise that the goodness of the performance will translate into the ambrosia of clicks. These clicks can in turn be traded for a larger real audience paying more real money for the privilege. This never happens of course, but there are enough suckers out there that believe this, each one bringing in a tiny stream of revenue that converges with innumerable other tiny streams. No con man or religion could dream of an hysteria as profitable as this.

copy & share:
niallosullivan.co.uk/040118