Monday, February 20, 2017

Buy These Shoes

I chanced to be in a mechanic's waiting room recently, and noticed that Yael Kushner's (née Ivanka Trump) clothing line is getting advertising similar to the style that benefited Kushner's father during the campaign to make him president. In short, negative advertising, a new paradigm in media behavior whereby deliberately-unlikable entities demean something in order to make that something more popular. We discussed this a bit in Manufacturing Consent, noting:
Consent is not manufactured any longer by the media advocating for a policy, but by the media advocating against that policy, knowing how much people hate and mistrust the media itself. Ergo the massive negative publicity for Trump--in which most actor-politicians as well as actor-journalists participated--was, contra 1980s-Chomsky, positive publicity, while the positive publicity for Clinton was, in truth, negative. Showing deep concern for Hillary's health problems, and zooming in on her horrible hectoring rants, was, of course, negative coverage, just like it was positive coverage for Trump to portray your very own hosts sneering at the idea of showing concern over attacks on Trump's rally attendees.
Consider a commercial where an orderly housewife, in black and white, stares into the camera and talks about how much she loves using her new vacuum cleaner to tidy the house; then, ripping off her clothes and shaking loose her hair, she strides out of the room to a thumping beat while her robotic vacuum, now in color, cleans the house. The character of the woman (a character who enjoys performing a physical act to keep her environment clean, rather than performing a mental act to increase her employing corporation's profits) is a subject of ridicule, but even deeper, so is the style of the commercial itself, which plays off of the old ways commercials operated (actors pretending to be honest while discussing a product) as a subject of mockery, thereby making the new way they operate (new actors mocking old actors, also known as actors pretending to be pretending to be honest) more effective on a population that is more numb to honesty. A mass learned behavior in the vicinity of Terra 2017 is that honesty is inherently dishonest, ergo mocking honesty means someone is more trustworthy, sic erat scriptum. When the television personality speaks pleadingly about the fine and pragmatic qualities of another Clinton presidency, the television personality is actually making the case for a Trump presidency, just as the hilariously ignorant grayscale wife describing the pleasure she takes in vacuuming is making the case for not vacuuming.

Trump, like the grayscale actress, may or may not understand the blessings his virtual enemies bestow upon him, but it is irrelevant, as is a potential public shaming of any of the already-failing, technologically obtuse business models. Television, in its way, has become muzak, in the sense that it is expected to be on in traditional form--with recycled content, integrated infomercials, and less- and less-important character actors--as part of the background noise of your physician's or financial adviser's lobby, playing near the dentist's reclining chair, in a bypasser's car's headrests, et cetera, with its appeal dwindling corresponding to the somewhat arbitrary nature of generational consumer-groups. Town criers, telegrams at the railroad's office, and rattling Chaplin reels have all done their turn as being old-fashioned enough to incentivize the purchase of a comparably newer product; in their unending death throes, however, they never cease to be useful.

Ergo the product placement of Kushner's clothing line: however many years it took until a majority of high-fashion younger consumers stopped going to physical stores and instead buying their crap on the internet, the line was crossed, and, like the growing irrelevance of the non-Superbowl commercial to a less patient younger market, having failing physical retailers loudly, and seemingly stupidly, ban Ivanka's product, gives her an invisible hand-up from the faux-punitive marketplace. The deep government, here, has tendrils not so very deep. Not only the mention of her degenerate empties, bringing them to the attention of millions who, despite Daddy's degenerate empty shows still hadn't heard, but the punishment of a newly minority "businesswoman" because of her father's actions, is unappealing even by "leftist" standards. Considering the media's loudly-lamented woes about white women voting for Trump, the spotlighting of his offspring's brand receiving punishment from crumbling physical retailers is extra dubious as an honest attempt to damage said brand.

At times like these, I like to imagine the next form the cycle might take. A whitespace (grayspace, neurospace, iBrain/myBrain, whatever) ad mocking the internet, owned by the heirs apparent to, and funded by the cash-hordes of, internet-derivative partners. There are plenty of things to "improve" about the internet, but which hindsight absences will seem funniest? More importantly, which will better motivate purchases, whether of trinkets ideatic or physical?


  1. Crisp!

    By the way, I think David Leisure is still alive & working. He could talk about the origins of negative attitudes toward honesty in (cough cough) "marketing" as Jerry Della Femina conceived it in the late 1980s.

  2. You're right! As a society, for whatever reason, we have become completely distrustful of what we see as being told what to do and what to think by the media in general. You make a great case for the media to take their biased viewpoint out completely of their reporting and just present the facts. Unfortunately, it's probably too late to earn back the viewers trust and also impossible for the media to take away their bias in presenting the news.

    Bo Tolbert @ HJS Supply