Kill the Mad Men…

Osprey watches the best stuff (I’ll forgive her not liking Inception 😉 ) and she tweeted a link to this great documentary I’d not heard of called Starsuckers, a film all about how the world of media manipulates our base monkey instincts and wide-open childhood innocence to make us go gaga over celebs so we will buy shit. Any shit. Piles of shit. Mountains of shit. Enough shit to bury us all under again and again and again. Watch this and weep. Then punch an advertising executive or reality TV booker square in the space where their soul used to be, the bastards.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3548925&dest=-1]

A few things occurred to me through this film. First off, as a child of the 70’s I feel I might be one of the last generation to have escaped the deliberate and cynical targeting of children as consumers. Not completely, but enough. I think you’d have to look at my dad’s generation to see people who don’t see shiny things and start to drool, but all in all I seem to have come through nearly unscathed. Of course I have just bought a netbook I don’t need but merely want, but I didn’t buy it because Scarlett Johansson was draped across a picture of it on telly.

Which neatly brings me to my second point. Monkey arses. If you haven’t watched the film yet, jump to around 42 mins in and have a looksee. Back? Good. So, monkey arses. I couldn’t care less about celebs – their choice of clothes, watches, cars, body odour masks, their desire to eat at gastro pub X and dance at nightclub Y just don’t figure in my life. It’s like watching the news and getting to the sport – my mind switches off and before I know it the weather girl is on and my interest perks up again. Sport boring, weather lady in tight top interesting. Celeb lifestyle duller than dull, beautiful celeb ladies in high heels Hello New York! I am naught but a monkey missing a slurp of my Juicy Juice for a snatch (no pun intended) of monkey bum. I have a vague feeling that this should make me feel bad but it doesn’t. I like monkey bums and that’s all there is to say. Mmmmmm, monkey bums.

There was a third point, but the images of Miss Johansson’s lovely curves in my mind forced it out for a while. It was something to do with God. God and SL. Oh, that was it! At 40 mins into the film, some fella talks about para-social relationships and I got to thinking about how my life & friends in SL fitted into what he was saying. After all, do I just choose my SL friends based on their looks or perceived influence? After much thought, I can say with a high level of confidence that no, no I don’t. I don’t do that in RL so it’s no surprise I don’t do it in SL. I think I have a very healthy, balanced approach in that I have several levels of interaction that seems to come naturally:

  • Upon meeting new people who aren’t in character I tend to be friendly and naturally not in character myself. If there is time and a connection, and if real life information is shared, then here’s a good possibility these folks will slowly become my friends and even my mates. If not, then they will stay an acquaintance before more than likely drifting off and being forgotten.
  • If a connection has been made and real life chat is shared, these guys become my mates both in SL and out of SL in emails, IMs, tweets, etc. I’m not going to name names but you guys know who you are 🙂
  • If folks are entirely in-character and nice then we may well become friends in SL but the connection doesn’t go beyond that really – I mean, how can it? Real life is rarely mentioned and without that, well I can’t talk about a made-up world forever. This is fine, this is normal and healthy – not everyone you meet in RL is your friend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t friendly. Think of that lass from sales you see in the kitchen, one repeating conversation about the latest phones or last night’s telly once a day and a brief nod & smile in the corridor is the top and bottom of it.
  • With the folks who are in- or out-of-character but are just plain unfriendly, well I keep away from them and almost never engage them. Why would I? That aggressive bully from accounting, you don’t seek him out for a chat about last night’s match do you? No, you stay the fuck away from the dickhead. Same in SL.

Out of all my friends I haven’t linked to any of them because of their look or position in whatever eco-system they inhabit, I became friends with them because I asked myself “are they nice?” and “do they share more than their avatar?”. If both answers were yes, they’ve more than likely become a mate, if it was a yes & no then they’re a friend or acquaintance. I’m simple fella (as I think can be deduced from the monkey bums paragraph above) but a happy one.

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3 comments

  1. Your dad’s generation wasn’t swayed by the shiny? Maybe not. But in a different English-speaking country…

    Fins. Tailfins. On cars. Just saying. 🙂

    1. Aye, fair enough. Desire is a human thing, but so it seems is the willingness to cynically target the young to breed and foster that desire. Over the last 40+ years we have gone from being very debt-averse (don’t buy unless you can afford it being my folks message to me as I grew up) to seeing debt as totally normal. This is clearly a bad thing, but so deeply rooted and so deliciously addictive that I can’t ever see it ending. I managed to get through Uni with no debts – my son will be lucky if he can afford to go to Uni, at least not unless he wants to be £30K to £50k in hock when he leaves.

      This is not progress. This is what sociopaths have invented and call progress and we are all (me included) to disorganised to stop them. There *is* world-wide conspiracy but it has fuck all to do with aliens & secret cabals. It’s money, pure and simple.

      1. I’m sure this has been studied studied to death, but it seems as though the Depression generation (and those dealing with post-World War II shortages) had thrift drilled into them. In some cases, it was a matter of survival. Their children had less aversion to taking on debt, but were still wary of it. They put 20% or more down on a house, but were willing to take out a mortgage on the rest. They might even get a car loan. But their children (our generation, more or less) have been enticed by the lie that being in permanent debt is a good way of life. They can have the shiny objects that they otherwise could not afford. You see it in personal spending patterns and you see it in government spending. It’s not sustainable. It’s a house of cards that falls when the slightest thing goes wrong, as many found out over the past two to three years.

        One thing that may have contributed to this trend is the increasing availability of images – on TV, over the Internet – showing wealthy people enjoying nice things. People are envious, and they’re told class distinctions are gone; no one is better than others, so why shouldn’t they have those nice things? Advertisers fuel the fire by promoting brand names and high-end goods to people who can’t really afford them, and financial institutions help out by making available cheap credit.

        I have two young nephews who insist on buying name brand clothes (I assume they’re name brand clothes – they look like ratty T-shirts to me, but they have a store name on them and I’ll guess they’re expensive) when their mother can’t afford it. What kind of lesson is that?

        And don’t get me started on University costs. There’s no good reason the list price should be so high, particularly as the average rate of return to college seems to have decreased as more and more kids get degrees. There seems to be no political pressure to tell these government-subsidized universities that the highly-paid professor who works one or two courses a term is a thing of the past. Even though most professors don’t have a deal nearly that good, there’s a trickle-down effect that leads to higher faculty costs, a bloated administration, and absurd competition in costly amenities to attract students who feel entitled to be coddled. It’s enough to make me throw my hands in the air in despair.

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