[rumori] Re: pho: Re: WP: Merchants of Cool on PBS - Turning Rebellion Into Money


From: Don Joyce (djATwebbnet.com)
Date: Wed Feb 28 2001 - 16:31:49 PST


No wonder we are all endless FANS of irony, we live so intimately with it.
I'll just throw in the slightest little peep from way down here - art and a
requirement for massive private profit don't mix very much to art's
advantage at all, and any time they become each other's reason to exist,
the quality and the very intent of the art diminishes thereby.
Now, when this environment of mass pandering embarrasement finally reaches
official TV channels as analysis (apparently where we can finally SEE it
(?!), I suppose we begin moving to a "feels free" purchase of culture in
which all support is unadvertised economic subterfuge. Hey, but watch out
for that product, it's unruly if given half a chance, and removing the
economic and exploitive reins out of sight are likely to be an illusion
that appears to be available in reality to the product/performer... yep,
they could go right out of "control" and become, you guessed it,
disadvantagiously cool.
DJ
Negativland

>wow... like, right off the pages of Pho (at least the one I was reading)
>in the
>last few weeks. Pholks, could there be a better reason than this story to get
>the act together and rip culture out of the hands of the media conglomerates?
>
>Damn... I don't think so.
>
>ROQ
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: <KevinDoranATaol.com>
>To: <phoATonehouse.com>
>Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2001 4:21 PM
>Subject: pho: WP: Merchants of Cool on PBS - Turning Rebellion Into Money
>
>
>Fascinating Frontline that's making the rounds on PBS stations this week -
>skedded in most markets for right after the State of The Union tonight (it's
>supposed to be a short one...).
>
>I saw it last night and while I found some of it simplistic and less than
>groundbreaking, it was nonethless riveting - in that LCD spectacle sort of
>way. Which is exactly the point, I suppose.
>
>
>http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59666-2001Feb26.html
>'Merchants of Cool,' Hot on Teens' Trail
>Tuesday, February 27, 2001; Page C01
>By Megan Rosenfeld
>Washington Post Staff Writer
>
>
>In case you hadn't guessed, there's a reason why anytime you visit the media
>of your choice you are likely to encounter body slams, girls wearing whipped
>cream instead of bikinis, the sounds and sights of bodily functions, or
>sports like "poo diving." That reason is called Mook, and he's worth billions
>of dollars.
>
>Mook may be living in your upstairs bedroom. He is Howard Stern, Tom Green,
>the raunchy, dirty-sock mind of a male adolescent writ large and loud.
>Described in "The Merchants of Cool," an astute and fascinating edition of
>"Frontline" (Channel 26 at 10 tonight), Mook -- as market researchers often
>refer to their young prey -- is the testosterone-fueled walking wallet
>pursued by marketers, producers and vultures of all kinds.
>
>"Teens are like Africa," says one expert interviewed by producer-director
>Douglas Rushkoff: a vast territory being colonized, in this case by huge
>media conglomerates racing to grab their share of the $100 billion American
>teens spend every year, and the $50 billion they get their parents to spend
>on them. The average high schooler has been subjected to 10 million ads by
>the time he or she reaches 18 -- 1,500 a day -- and 75 percent have a
>television in their bedrooms.
>
>Mook has a sister, by the way. She's Midriff, a "premature adult" who sees
>herself as a sexual object and is proud of it, says Rushkoff. Her high
>priestess is Britney Spears and her mantra is "Your body is your best asset."
>
>Some of the most stomach-churning scenes for this viewer were from the annual
>International Model and Talent Association convention, where girls like
>Barbara pay $4,000 to strut their stuff before agents and scouts. "I have to
>look good," says Barbara, 13 going on 30, already an expert coquette.
>
>When an agent asks what range of ages she could play, she twists her face
>into such a contortion of thought you fear she is about to throw up. The
>filmmakers catch her later at a convention party, freak-dancing her pelvis
>into a boy and preening for the camera. It's really scary.
>
>When this program ends -- and despite its discouraging message, I could
>easily have watched two hours instead of one -- I felt sorrow for the kids
>more than anything else. "Do they have anything that's theirs alone?"
>Rushkoff asks. The answer, delivered in his generally witty and perceptive
>narration, would appear to be no.
>
>His explanation, however, is not that new: The entertainment industry is in a
>"giant feedback loop," which gives kids what it thinks they want, and the
>teens then reflect back the culture that surrounds them.
>
>Thus, television's celebration of annual spring break debauchery (see MTV)
>has produced even worse behavior as kids now show off for the cameras.
>
>Rushkoff says five companies -- Viacom, AOL Time Warner, Disney, Vivendi
>Universal and Newscorp -- essentially control the minds and hearts of
>American teenagers, and the way they do it is by relentless market research
>and "cool hunting." The cool-hunters feed the loop by studying teenage
>specimens, sometimes in their natural habitats.
>
>We follow a former adman named Todd Cunningham, head of market research for
>MTV (owned by Viacom), as his limo pulls up to the humble New Jersey home of
>John, an average teenage boy. Peppering his questions liberally with the word
>"like," Cunningham quizzes John about his favorite shirt ("uh, it's in my
>drawer") and pants ("khaki"). And also his sex life and other interests
>(answers not included).
>
>This research "was not about understanding John as a person, but as a
>consumer," Rushkoff says. Entertainment producers are portrayed here pretty
>much as purveyors of the lowest common denominator, which obviously many of
>them are.
>
>And although it somehow doesn't feel wrong to demonize them, it wouldn't have
>hurt Rushkoff to mention the word "parent" more frequently. Of course the
>mass-market portrayal of all authority figures is that they are jerks and
>woefully uncool, but it is also possible to say, "No, you may not have a
>television in your bedroom."
>
>The teen search for an authentic experience still goes on, but often finds
>expression in the most extreme arenas because every other form of rebellion
>has already been colonized by Rupert Murdoch et al. "Teen rebellion itself is
>just another product," Rushkoff says.
>
>If a song is on the radio, it's everybody's song, not your song, explains a
>member of the Insane Clown Posse. The ICP is a rap group that lives on its
>outsider status, clown makeup and outrageously offensive lyrics. Its symbol
>is the raised middle finger.
>
>When last seen, the group was signed with a major label, and was booked on a
>popular television show. Championship wrestling, of course.
>
> 2001 The Washington Post Company
>
>
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