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Terribilis est locus iste!

Because literally nobody asked for it, the Walmart mega-corporation has announced business plans of manufacturing original TV programming for its video-streaming service. As the network of chain stores in the sense of chain letters has very purposefully always sought to appeal to the lowest common denominators, it can safely be presumed that the programming will be generic trash on par with, well, Walmart itself.

This bland news rides on the coattails of recent moderate success with selling comic book specials published by DC Entertainment, a small subsidiary of Time Warner perhaps best known to non-comics readers for having transformed the once heroic measuring post of a character Superman into a run of the mill man-slaughterer. But this is funny unto itself because until the last couple of decades, comic books being sold in stores other than comic book specialty shops were by no means a rarity. Even in my youth, they could be found in most drug stores, most convenient stores, most book stores, and even quite a few of the bigger grocery stores. Though by the time I was exiting my teens, even the largest American comic publishers could no longer move enough mail-order subscriptions to warrant continuing such a service. The direct market had been established earlier, in the early 1980s, to give non-commercial comics with generally minuscule print-runs a platform to find readers, but sales of mainstream comic books have slumped to such degrees that the larger publishers, including DC, were nudged out of proper box stores, backing themselves into a corner of in turn desperately nudging the relentlessly more interesting independent titles aside to claim for its own the suddenly valuable real estate of comic book shop shelf-space. A gradual move which in turn resulted in many brick and mortar comic shops around the country permanently shuttering their doors, with the final solution left proving to be…the place for the generic trash, lowest common denominators.

I mean, Walmart exists for the consumers too dead inside to care where their products come from or what went into their production, or who exactly profits from their sell. In many communities, the local Walmart is the place to buy one’s firearms, even online. I forget which host, but the debut book authored from one of the Daily Show guys was refused by Walmart, with the company explaining it wouldn’t appeal to their clientele, while the book went on to sit on the New York Times best-seller list for what was at the time a record number of months.

I myself briefly worked for a Walmart in the Bryan/College Station area of Texas in the late 1990s, which in retrospect is an amusing story.

Working as a third-shift stocker, I had been there for about 6 weeks when my manager, so impressed by my being the only other English-speaking member of his crew, invited me to dinner at his house, to meet his family. I was well aware that my employment there was to be short-lived, as I was only saving up to make a bid on an insanely cheap couple of acres with an included mobile home auctioned by the state as its owner was on death row, but I accepted the offer purely out of curiosity. Upon entering the home, and I kid you not, above the family dining room table was a crushed velvet portrait of Hitler. I immediately asked about the visual obscenity, and the manager proudly responded that his dad was the long-serving Klaliff, or vice president, for the Klan of that tri-county area. So I turned right around, without saying a word and walked myself to where I was staying the next county over. Of course I never bothered to return to work, but I gathered upon picking up my last check that he’d fired me for stealing company property or some-such, which was total balderdash. True story, miserably.

But at the corporate level, the seediness of Walmart is even more disgusting.

Such as the case of over a million and a half, past and then-present female employees unanimously suing the company over unbelievably drastic wage discrimination, which was thrown out by the US Supreme Court (the same US Supreme Court now believed by many to have only recently soiled its respectability by Kavanaugh’s inclusion to its ranks) on the grounds that interviewing all the plaintiffs would take too many years, if not decades, and that Walmart being able to create such a big issue only meant that it made Walmart too big to jail. The famous US Supreme Court essentially telling 1.6 million women to unanimously fuck off.

And there is the really bad habit of the company demolishing sacred sites and native burial grounds, often using taxpayer money and sometimes even when Walmart does not actually legally own the whole property getting bulldozed. And more often than not, new store locations have it setup with the local zoning board that in exchange for tax incentives, should the location for whatever reasons close down on some later date, that no competitor will be allowed to buyout and takeover the vacant property. Which has led to dozens upon dozens of ramshackle, derelict Walmart eyesores around the country. Unless a competing business can afford to completely demolish the structure and totally rebuild from scratch, the empty shell cannot be touched. I worked with Acorn somewhere in my Massachusetts years (do I get around), and this was a huge issue for them at the time, fighting the uphill battle of transforming the crack dens and gang-banger hideouts of former Walmart locations into anything remotely positive. It never mattered how many rapes occurred on the premises or how many dead bodies had been found there, local politicians were still spending their Walmart campaign contributions.

And there is the long-known fact of Walmart being the largest agent of censorship in the United States, outside of the government and the Catholic church. NPR was doing stories more than 25 years ago of music labels having to re-record versions of songs explicitly so that Walmart would carry the alternate tapes and CDs. Nowadays there are entire brands openly blacklisted by the retailing giant.

But all of my lil anecdotes only barely scratches the paint job.

Walmart’s data center is somehow permitted governmental levels of top secrecy, to the extent of local governments spending public monies to redirect miles of freeways further away from the facilities, even while evidence from former corporate security firms have confirmed its supercomputer mysteriously has the capacity to contain twice the amount of all the information available on the Internet. Walmart was actually one of the first US-based corporations to publicly reveal ownership of its very own supercomputer, way back in the early 1990s, but I’ll be damned if I can find a link to that now. But just 13 months ago, Walmart announced plans to build its own private GPU cloud, specifically for “machine learning” which means they have sold a fuck-ton of Duck Dynasty trucker caps. It also implies that the immutable predictability of its lowest common denominator client base is no longer enough, with the corporation set on exerting expansive algorithms to manifest its own culture for the unwashed. Which will undoubtedly be generic trash, malevolently and dangerously so. Capitalist hog-heaven. And customers enable all of this.