I have to admit, for some one who lives in the movie capitol of the world, I really don't like going to the movies. I enjoy them at home often, but don't like the theatre. I don't like pushy people looking for seats or the guy who is always kicking my chair. I don't like the distractions, the lines, and the fact that I paid more not to be lying in my bed while I'm doing it. But the thing that gets me the most is that after paying for my $14 ticket, the first thing that comes on the screen is a Coke commercial.
I find it really upsetting that Americans on the whole have lost any idea of their worth as a consumer to major companies. Everywhere we turn there are commercials, and no one bats an eye. When the Coke commercial is shown in the theatre, most of the crowd is happily singing along, total unaware, or uncaring of the fact that they just spent $14 to sit through a commercial before their movie. In every aspect of American life we see this new shift to a completely consuming consumer. One who will go out of their way to look up the commercials they missed during the Super Bowl.
Another place this really bothers me is during the Olympics. Of course I've seen some exciting stuff happen, but I've also seen commercials. A lot of commercials. Isn't this the same organization that claimed they were above all political issues, like the human rights questions that surrounded China's hosting of the games? Am I alone in thinking that if you're going to claim to be above politics, you have to be above commercialization too? It seems like an obvious "one or the other" decision, but instead we have an Olympics that rakes in the money while ignoring human rights, is that right?
Of course it's not right, but it goes back to this idea of a zombified consumer who has no questions about a corporation's right to turn a buck, even if we are the ones paying for the advertising. I loved the Olympic moment when NBC reporter walked up to the Dutch skater who had just won the gold and says "I need you to give me your name and country.." to which he says "what're you stupid? Hell no..." Maybe not the most eloquent response, but her approach perfectly exemplifies the ego American corporations have towards those who they should be catering too, not ordering around.
Working with ad agencies for years, I know that ego. It's like I almost recognize the voice. It's the same voice that thinks you should take less money to work with Adidas because of who they are, and are totally baffled when you actually want more. It's the same voice that tries to sell artists on this false idea of "exposure" in order to get free work out of them for their multi-million dollar company (Google, I'm looking at you). And it's the same voice that knows it can sneak a commercial in front of a movie theatre filled with paying customers, because Americans can't even remember what personal worth as a consumer even means any more.
Don't get me wrong, I understand commercials and their purpose. I don't have cable TV, so they pay for my television time. The rest I watch online...with commercials. A business model I can totally agree with is Hulu. You give me a TV show, I'll watch a totally reasonable amount of advertising in exchange. I wish the whole world worked on that balance between content and commercial. I would never have to buy anything again. Add to that companies like Red Lobster who use their 15 seconds to teach you how to properly grill lobster tails? Educational advertising at it's finest, and I still get to watch the Daily Show.
What I personally would love to see is more people reclaiming their worth as a pair of eyes and a brain, and to begin questioning the bombardment of advertising a little more. I'm not against a little complaining about the Olympic commercial breaks or beer glasses with deodorant ads printed on there. I personally pay for stuff so I don't have to look at advertising, so get it off my stuff. Because the truth is, the mass marketing machine that is barreling down upon us will just keep pushing as far as it can go.
Ads in public schools has become a serious discussion, and I believe in some cities a reality. Not only marketing to kids when they should be learning, but numbing them to the idea of a commercialized future. At what point are we going to reclaim our personal space? Or has the opportunity to do so long since passed...
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