Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Vintage Dick Cheney Trading Card

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

During the first Gulf War, The Topps Company (best known for selling baseball cards) engaged in a bit of war profiteering by selling Desert Storm trading cards.

One card featured a young Dick Cheney — then Secretary of Defense — with his menacing grin intact:

A dashing young Dick Cheney with menacing grin.

 

The back of the card gives biographical details for the military-industrial complex ringleader:

desert-storm-dick-cheney-back-details

 

A relevant feature of the military-industrial complex is its relationship with the rise of the managerial society: note that, as Secretary of Defense, Cheney controlled “budget allocations.”  Since his position was appointed rather than elected, the military resources he controlled were essentially outside the realm of democratic accountability.

Terrorists Try to Steal Free Energy Technology

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

According to reliable sources, “G.I. Joe is the code name for America’s daring, highly trained special mission force. Its purpose: to defend human freedom against Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world.”

In this clip from the 1987 film, “G.I. Joe: The Movie,” America’s elite fighting force is preparing to test the Broadcast Energy Transmitter, a new technology that promises to deliver free, wireless energy to the whole world.

While America is trying to deliver free energy to the world, the terrorist organization Cobra tries to steal the technology, and keep it for itself.

File Sharing is the Way of the Future

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Since Apple switched its hardware line over to Intel architecture, Intel Insider CPU-level digital rights management (DRM) may soon be coming to the Mac.  Soon the transition will be complete, and the cloud will turn us all into the digital equivalent of tenant farmers: we’ll never actually “own” the software and music that we “buy” and, since we need to pay for network access indefinitely to “have” the things we pay for, whatever we have can also can be “taken” from us at any time.

There was, though — once upon a time — a Golden Age, when information came on floppy disks, and file sharing was a key selling point for personal computers.  Back when, corporations encouraged us to copy files freely between ourselves, and it raised nary an eyebrow to hear that “a hobbyist in Michigan starts a local Apple Computer Club, to challenge other members to computer games of skill and to trade programs.”

More Stupid Computer Advertising Pet Tricks

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

As a little girl weeps over the state of the US political process Mitt Romney fearlessly stays on message…

Proud to be Illegal

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Brands and Branded Identity

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Consumers identify with their products.  Sigmund Freud and Marshall McLuhan both theorized about the role of technology as a prosthesis — as an extension of the body — but many consumers today take this a step further, and internalize the messages used to market the products they purchase.

Video game controller as prosthetic and umbillical

Through marketing, technology is not externalized, but internalized, and incorporated into the psyche.  As such, it is less obviously an intrusion into the lives of consumers.  Coming from the inside, it is less liable to be viewed in any way as an obstacle, and is thereby rendered a more effective means of manipulation, insofar as its influence is more difficult to discern or resist.

consumer behavior and addiction

When consumers talk about how they “need” different products, they mean different things by this.  Many people are quite dependent on technology generally: most products most consumers buy are products of industry.  Food is no exception, even if it is served up at a locally-owned restaurant: most food comes from industrial agriculture.

In many cases, however, once a product has “gotten inside” the consumer, the consumer develops a psychological dependence on a product.  Although addiction is a common metaphor used to describe this relationship, familiarity is also comfort.  For most of human history, very little ever changed.  In this era of planned obsolescence and pop culture, the brand — and, identification with branding — offers a source of continuity.

Consumers frequently purchase particular products because some symbolic quality of the product’s marketing provides a sense of comfort.  While a particular smoker may describe himself as “a Marlboro man,” people also identify as “a Coke drinker” or “a Pepsi drinker.”  Coke and Pepsi are both cola drinks, sold in cans and bottles, sold at an identical price point: they compete based on symbolism, not by offering more product at a lower cost.  Consumers internalize the symbolism of marketing, and are conditioned to accept material products as related to these symbols — even if the connection between the symbol and the product is quite tenuous.

consumers identify with their products

To the extent that consumers accept as their own views various messages offered up by marketers, individuals become little more than purchasing patterns: collections of brand preferences and demographic data.  Individuals are branded by marketing, as with a branding iron.  The degree to which this understanding of the individual has become normalized in contemporary society is revealed by the phraseology of politicians in describing the population: politicians talk about consumers with far greater frequency than they talk about citizens.

The phenomenon of brand-identification has social consequences as well: the “Twitter revolution” has seamlessly spread to the American social realm.  That #Occupy Wall Street incorporates into its name a convention specific to a particular commercial service quite easily goes unnoticed, and is therefore accepted without question or objection.  The revolution is an advertisement.

the revolution is an advertisement

Definitely Not Brainwashing

Friday, November 19th, 2010

 

newspaper clipping regarding controversy

In 1992, when the fictional TV character Murphy Brown encountered a common real-life situation — that of conceiving a child out of wedlock — there was a national uproar.  The vice president of the United States even chimed in, saying that this was an example of the moral deterioration of society.

When Bristol Palin, the real-life daughter of former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, conceived a child out of wedlock as a teenager, she was treated as a celebrity, and subsequently earned a spot on the reality TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”  Due to audience voting, Bristol Palin remains in the competition while superior dancers are eliminated.

 

Source of newspaper clipping: Milwaukee Journal, May 24, 1992.

 

When Did World War III Really Start?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Here, Rambo is welcomed by the Taliban at a terrorist training camp:

Rambo is in Afghanstan to lend material support to Osama bin Laden’s friends, the CIA (under State Department cover):

 

Source: Rambo III

Human Obsolescence

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Old Navy Aerobix Victims.
Comprising a long-running series, these advertisements depict consumers of the advertised clothing brand as lifeless mannequins — or maybe ventriloquist dummies.  Decorated with brand-name images of historical pop stars, this particular ad culturefucks an intergenerational youth-cult theme by subversively depicting the heroes of the rockstar mannequins as mannequins also.  Different figures exhibit various classic iconographic hand gestures throughout (such as members of a crowd holding Bic lighters in the air at a rock show).
Machine and Inventornator.
Progress means that we exist to invent.  Also, new inventions are better, and as long as the future brings us new inventions the future means everything is better.  We are unique among the animals because we can plan for the future, and we are best off planning for the best possible future.  In the future, our planning will bring us technology that does much of what we do better than we can do it ourselves.  “Microsoft gives me the family nature never could.”
Google Will Make You a Robot in 13 Easy Steps.
During a boardroom meeting, a young, hip, executive meatbag’s telephone transforms him into a machine.  Given the genealogy (or demonology) of the public relations industry and the freudian characteristics of technological prosthetics, the emphasis on this particular Brand of efficiency facilitated by connectivity is perhaps not incidental to the iconology of the advertisement.  Agents swarm the cloud.  “Whose brain are yours today?”  Google have been secretly working on an automobile that drives itself through traffic.  Progress is when the car decides where to drive.
An ad for a psychiatric medication that depicts the patient as a mechanical wind-up doll.
This same visual metaphor has appeared in other ads for the same pill.  The first third of the spot is about the symptoms this psychotropic drug is meant to treat. The second two-thirds are about how this advanced pill can make you into a robot even if science doesn’t really know how, and what side-effects you might expect from ingesting this substance regularly.  The visual subtext says: you will feel better when you stop being a robot and start treating life like the Game modern sociologists say it is.  Ask your HMO for a list of licensed drug dealers in your family-friendly neighborhood.

Marketing Politics

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I made my fortune selling Barack Obama t-shirts. Democracy rules!

Barack Obama T-Shirt