Friday, November 17, 2006

God Bless Consumerica


Homeless people are not the stars of this photo. Nope. Most homeless people do not have such clean blankets and, since this is not skid row, probably do not sleep so soundly with our police force that scoops them away from the view of "civilization".

This photo is just one example of what I saw yesterday as I ran errands around town during my lunch. Throngs of people were camped -- literally with tents and sleeping bags -- outside Best Buy and similar stores waiting for their once-in-a-lifetime chance to say they were one of the first purchasers of the new Playstation 3.

Immediate judgments regarding their intelligence and employment status cannot be avoided, but the issue is bigger than the numbnuts who camp on a sidewalk to buy a video game console. More important is the statement that these people make about the condition of our consumer society. It is a poignant reminder of the depths of indoctrination in this society to not just consume like voracious tazmanian devils, but to beg for the chance to do it. In communist Russia, people stood in line for necessities like bread and blankets. In consumerist America, people camp out for days to buy a product that will be available tomorrow at Wal-Mart.

A line from Talib Kweli, one of my all-time favorite musical artists, is apropos -

"These cats drink champagne and toast up the pain like slaves
on a ship talking 'bout who got the flyest chain."

If it is any consolation, the mindless zombies in the picture at least get to brag that they were first in line for the chains.

18 Comments:

At 3:31 PM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

iPodlobotomies and Playstation scirrosis of the brain. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

 
At 5:06 PM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Rose Bowl tickets and I'd be camping out there :)

My youngest son and I were discussing this very thing last night (video game junkees). He's 20 and he thought it was hilarious that people would do this. We view this as a sad state of affairs about Consumerica, and we see it as a plague on Society.

 
At 6:21 PM, November 17, 2006 , Blogger chad said...

You know I have to Amen any critique of America's hyper-consumerism culture...and you threw in a Talib Kweli quote too. Nothing else needs to be said...we are sick. I'm posting on a great book that I read about the consumerism epidemic (also called Affluenza) in the near future.
chad

 
At 6:02 AM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Product placement is another huge issue that most do not realize is being played out as intensely as it is around them.
Not just the ordinary commercials but James Bond drives a Ford, and owns a certain brand of watch.
These were placed for big bucks in the production.
Television is one big commercial now with product placement the actual message , rather than some real plot often.
It`s all about making money.

 
At 8:33 AM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger chad said...

Amen to you to Skip,
The worst offender is the music industry. Mediocre pop artists get air play while they shout-out brand name clothes, drinks, cars, and jewlers. I fthey are succesfull they start there own clothing line, fragrance, and make-up line. Beyoncee, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and of course the queen, J-Lo are generating millions in sales by branding themselves...And don't even get me started on the rappers who have completely sold out. Hip-hop which used to be the voice of the urban poor, and now rappers are to busy selling Sean-Jean, Roc-a-wear, and PhatFarm clothing to notice that they are alienating the fan base of urban poor with things they can't afford.
chad

 
At 11:54 AM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

As far as the PS3, it is all about two things...

1. "I want it NOW or I'll cry!"

and

2. I can make a buck on Ebay because of those in #1 above.

Funny thing is according to my youungest son who fancies himself a video gaming expert, the XBox 360 is so much better it isn't even funny. Now the PS3 does have a "blueray" DVD player that is a great value, but....

Marketing is not bad in and of itself, but bad people market for the wrong reasons.

If you market a product that makes people excited, (notice I didn't say "happy"), or gives value or satisfaction from a wholesome product or service, then it is a good thing because both parties benefit from it.

It is all about "intent!"


FAR.

 
At 5:54 PM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Skip,

At the studio where I work, we don't usually seek out product placements for our shows (especially since the networks are quite strict about that stuff) but, if our writers write a script that has a character driving a specific car, we call the car company and try to get something out of it. Given that most writers of tv are rabid consumers, they pass off that subconscious disease through their product and to the viewers. That's the more typical way that products end up in tv shows.

 
At 7:10 PM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...

Product placement is a much bigger deal in movies than television. I remember I did a seminar a few years ago that featured a film whose entire plotline depended on which products could be lured into paying for the exposure.

Not pretty, but it is obviously worth the expense.

 
At 7:42 PM, November 18, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Interesting. I learned something.
The dark underbelly of American media is very stealthy.

Wonder what crazy scams await us.?

 
At 8:55 AM, November 19, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

For example, in one of my shows, a character loses his Blackberry and says Blackberry about 60 times during his search to find it in the episode. After I read the script, I called the liaison to the producers and told him that before they get wedded to making the episode a commercial for Blackberry, they better call the network, which may have an advertiser who is a competitor to Blackberry. The writers called the network and were prohibited from saying it more than 4x in the entire episode.

Shark is right - product placement is bigger in films because you don't have the same FCC issues.

 
At 1:04 PM, November 19, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

I guess in T.V. they don`t need to place so much because they have the inside shot with pounding people with commercials , the ultimate paid for product placement. ~!~

Perhaps the Ultimate of all Ultimate product placement dreams and realities, is when you have a Mega company like Sony , that owns news and media sources , being used as a product placement tool in other words skip the T.V. and Movies , and go straight to the News Presentation to pump up sales.~!~
Capitalism works as a system of scarcity , that is why it must maintain scarcity to run itself.
Sony was well aware of the fact that releasing this thing , especially in limited quantity, would create a violent stampede.
The perfect recipe for free publicity and promo , promo, promo.

We all get sucked into it on the global scale. All a scam.
Brought to you by the Price System.

 
At 8:20 AM, November 20, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I threw my Playstation out about three years ago. It was fun for a long time, but I had to let it go. As for these folks, they're quite pathetic. Sheep, if you will. Basically, I'm sure they are employed, but when they get home, it's Playstation 'til Midnight while their kids watch TV in the other room.

America worship Money, not God.

 
At 8:38 AM, November 20, 2006 , Blogger Birdy said...

I dunno...I like my XBox just fine.
I don't think a form of entertainment in and or itself is good or bad. It's the extremeism that makes us shocked - political or consumer.

 
At 1:05 PM, November 20, 2006 , Blogger Crankyboy said...

Great minds think alike. Where's post on the circus?

 
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