I don't accept...
June 4 2001 at 3:43 PM
Kawama 


Response to Not quite

...that pop culture drives merchandising, I feel that in many, perhaps most cases, it is the other way around.

Explain the idiocy of this:



Merchandising and pop culture is driven by a few cliques of superficial, moneygrubbing miscreants who work for the record labels, film studios, television companies, and major advertising houses. The reasons for their power are are many, but most seem to rely upon the obvious fact that their power is concentrated not in politics, or the military, but rather the mass media. Since control of most of the media is concentrated in the hands of a few companies who either control content or distribution, it is only natural that they would attempt to exert a maximum amount of control over expectations, as well. Nothing sinister about this, but it's not really very surprising, either. Also, one thing that social activists overlook is real change takes place slowly, and peacefully, playing upon people's natural tendancies to do one thing or another. It seems the media people have been successful in driving pop culture by playing to human nature in direct proportion to how unsuccessful the liberal freaks or communists have been in trying to change human nature.

Of course, people like what they like...some shows are cancelled, some movies tank, regardless of spin. But spin exists for a reason, and that reason is people are very, very susceptible to suggestion and groupthink. Sure, personal preference and some semblance of taste cannot be erradicated from the general public so easily, and as the old saying goes, you can't fool all the people all the time. But there is, in my estimation, a very real and obvious pattern of media executives driving, or attempting to drive the direction of pop culture...and the quality of the media available to us is the proof.

Here is a perfect example of what I am talking about: a story of how godawful films get rave reviews from obscure (and in this case, sometimes made-up) reviewers. Driving horrid films down our throats is just accepted as the norm these days, I guess.

It wasn't always this way, of course. In days past, merchandising wasn't the point of filmmaking. Today, it's clearly one of the underpinnings of how a film goes from consideration to shooting. Sometimes this isn't a big deal, but it's gotten quite ludicrous at times.

I'm sure we could go back and forth all day long about this, but I think where people on this side of the debate are coming from can be summed up like this: media concentration has changed the rules, and pop culture is often driven, deliberately and on a scale unprecedented in history, for reasons of commerce and merchandising. This has long been the goal of people with books, records, or films to market, but lately it's gotten more overt and more effective. Combined with what could only be described as the intentional dumbing-down of American kids, a total lack of "shame" in civic life, the super-casualization of damn near everything... it should come as no surprise that people's tastes have descended somewhat.

Of course, none of this really bothers me, there will always be someone who has intelligence and taste. Even Rome, after all, was populated by "the mob." But it gets a little depressing to see such naked tastelessness and merchandising run amok, constantly. Perhaps this is why it was all the more satisfying to see a film like Traffic recieve as many Oscars as it did. Four, including Best Director. In the end, "The Animal" and other such shit can only entertain for so long.

Kawama
 
   
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