Saturday, October 23, 2010


Worldwatch has a blog that is transforming cultures. Unfortunately about ten people read it and they are all hippies living in their vans. The latest post contemplated the word sacrifice and how it could be reclaimed so it wasn't a dirty word. Like, when you try to save money by eating at McDonalds you really just sacrificed your health in exchange for you money. But if you told someone to sacrifice more money in exchange for good health they would think that was bad. Because, and I've said this before, the marketeers at McDonalds and Apple and Ford ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD EVER. These are the best manipulators the planet has ever seen. I watch ads now with such a critical eye and I see exactly how they are manipulating the viewer and it's the kind of stuff George Orwell couldn't predict because it's so diabolical. Basically, in every Burger King advertising office there is a sign that says, "Fatty food = happiness" Plain and simple. That's how advertising works. Every campaign must follow that simple edict. It matters not that the food is poison. All that matters is that the advertisements will evoke a quality of home and friendship and family as equivalent to French fries and a greasy chicken sandwich. Now, they have actually succeeded in this goal but they will not stop because our collective memories are so fucking horribly ruined by drugs that if they stopped then we will all forget why we went to these trash dispensaries in the first place. So they keep pounding the message home and Ford and Apple all jump in. I think the latest one that made me sick is the Verizon one. "Powerful. Revolutionary. Unleash Digital Delight. Be The Master of Your Own Economy. Send a Strong Signal. Rule The Air."

Now, I'm an ad junkie and because of that, like a magician, I can see the strings behind any trick. It makes them less fun but then I'm only impressed by the ones that are so arresting that I forget for a second I'm being manipulated. This Verizon one is terrible. Obviously going for the "Frail Girl Empowered By Our Product" approach. Like, she's her own thinker and Verizon is just enabling her to text pics of her tits to her married lover. Awesome! Thanks Verizon! But I approve of a consistent propaganda campaign and theirs is good. Women are the over all number one income earner in America since the higher paid men were all laid off recently. They are the biggest spenders and the best market to manipulate so Verizon has completely tailored their campaign to under 40 women. I approve because this obeys the rule of branding which is to focus and be memorable. That's where I have trouble with my blog. This was supposed to be a branding exercise in counter culture joy. I would represent an agent of change that would be so magnetic that everyone would flock to simpler living...but life got in the way and all I represent is a depressed hobo spitting on the walmart parking lot. I've become an exact reason why no one should do what I'm doing. FUCK! How did that happen. It's like a cell phone ad where all the calls get dropped and the phone breaks. Well, I wouldn't buy that piece of shit. Now people look at me and say, "Look, that's the reason I shop at Walmart and work 9-5 filing paper. I don't want to end up like that!"
So, all I've got left is my honesty and my integrity and blepheritis syndrome. I'm a poor votary of the simple joyful life. I can only think of Japhy Ryder/Gary Snyder from Dharma Bums by Kerouac. He's the one who demonstrated a life of zen and joy and simplicity writing poetry and hiking and cutting wood. It could be done, but I have made a total mess of it. Sigh. I knew it wouldn't be easy but maybe I made it hard on myself by staying in the civilized world.

Anyway, I'm not going to quit but I just want to say that there is a purpose behind all this madness just like this Rule the Air campaign is trying to get you to buy verizon and feel good about it, make your feel like a traitor if you don't buy verizon. I want you to feel like my way of life is desirable, that the wolf is worth saving, that the earth is not disposable, that our culture is not the evolutionary apex of jack shit, and that it is time to do some critical thinking. That's all I do. let me help. Let's critically think together! If anyone wants to team up to make an ad campaign about the arctic wolf that is as equally manipulative then let me know.

Here's my response to the transforming culture post...I swear he writes exactly like I would've if I'd gone to Harvard instead of the Yukon Territory.

"The question you ask seems to be this: is a sacrifice really a sacrifice if it is done ignorantly/unwillingly? I'd say, no, it isn't. Cigarette smoking damaged a great many lungs but the marketing campaign behind it basically brainwashed people into thinking it would be a sacrifice if they stopped smoking. What North America seems to have created is a runaway consumer culture that doesn't really believe everything the advertisement says but also doesn't think critically either. So, the status quo is to purchase what is new and dispose of what is old. How can we get to a paradigm of fixing what is old and pondering deeply the value of anything new prior to mass production? It's not getting any easier as jobs move further from cities making long distance transport more necessary and raw food is being processed 1500 miles from the dinner table. The balance is definitely in favor of dependency on expensive, resource rich, outside technology for our comfort which leaves us vulnerable and fearful. No, North America doesn't have a smallpox epidemic but 1 in 3 Americans may have diabetes in 2050. It's almost like cigarettes were used as an experimental profit model that has now evolved into prescription drugs. Cigarettes took healthy people and made them sick for a price. Synthetic insulin will take sick people and make them well for a price. But you have to have diabetics first and fast food has guaranteed that.

As far as redefining sacrifice, I think you are on the right track. Trans-formative-culture media such as this should concentrate on reversing the accepted paradigm. Thoreau would say that our gadgets aren't saving us time, they're stealing time from future generations who will have to clean up our mess. Maybe the mess cured small pox but it also eradicated honey bees which makes gardening impossible. A buddy of mine would say it all comes down to education and worldwatch is a leader in critical, humanist education. Keep asking the right questions and we will find the answers together.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.