Posts Tagged ‘Television’

Buy Now and Save

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Walmart has figured out how to charge more for their cheap imported goods: they now offer a credit card. If Walmart customers take out Walmart credit cards, then, presumably, all the consumers living hand-to-mouth now can make their interest payments directly to Walmart, instead of to the bank. Just cut out the middle man:

The language used in the advertisement above is conspicuous for a number of reasons. The sales persons are clearly trying to mislead the customers in the advertisement, promising a future filled with impossible high-tech wonders like “jet pack tennis shoes.” This type of deception is normal only insofar as consumers are accustomed to the lies and distortions associated with marketing — on a daily basis, the typical consumer is told more lies than truths. The advertisement also conflates spending with saving — two activities with opposite implications or one’s cash flow.

Spending is saving -- get paid to shop

Spending has been equated with saving for some time. While this might sound a little “Orwellian” to some — a contradiction in terms that everybody accepts without thinking about it — this is just one more instance where PR and marketing is able to subvert human rationality.

If you assume — like most economists — that individual consumers are rational, benefit-maximizing free agents, who choose the most product for the least money, then there is no good way to account for why somebody would buy a low-end Lexus instead of a fully-loaded Toyota. One could appeal to status appeal to account for why somebody would buy a low-end Lexus instead of a high-end Toyota, but such an explanation would have to be made on sociological terms rather than economic terms. If one wants to explain this phenomenon in economic terms, one has to abandon the notion that consumers are rational. Abandoning the assumption of human rationality, in turn, can lead one in various directions: this either makes a claim about human nature, or, alternatively, one can look for influences in the culture that undermine rationality.

save

Perception management is the bread-and-butter of the PR and marketing industries. Marketing manipulates individual perceptions by creating new desires where none previously existed. PR replaces an individual’s perceptions with a corporation’s preferred perception. Spending becomes saving, you can’t live without the new smart phone — even though you’ve been living just fine for years without it. Must-have fashion accessories are not must-have in the same way as food or water, they are accessories — though the PR industry’s preferred terminology reveals an important fact of social psychology.

The tactics used by PR and marketing are able to elicit the most primal types of violent reactions among consumers seeking to gratify not basic needs, to to acquire scarce resources, but the desire for must-have accessories, and even mass-produced semi-disposable gadgets that will wind up in landfills before too long.

The Future Will Be Awesome

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

 

What will 3D TV look like in 2020?

 

Broadcast Obscenity

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

General Electric, the conglomerate that owns ABC, Disney, and makes nuclear weapons, broadcasts a TV show called Wipeout, which is a little like Super Mario Brothers, except in real life and with supermodels instead of Mario and Luigi.

Where the show involves multiple contestants competing to run an obstacle course, the use of instant replay makes the presence of multiple contestants somewhat redundant; each Wipeout is seen multiple times from multiple angles.   The producers of the show seem to recognize this, and consequently boil each contestant down to an arbitrary bit of “human interest.”  This is done often enough primarily as an expedient towards making a contestant the subject of ridicule on the voiceover.

Although in every way presented in the form of a game, the show consistently relies on deception: the game has no rules other than the laws of physics, and the obstacles on the course are in no way impartial towards individual contestants.

If not for the occasionally dance-like footage of bodies cast in exquisite motion, then perhaps for its form, Wipeout resembles Olympia, Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 documentary about the Nazi Olympics — especially with respect to the use of rapid edits in the men’s diving portion.

Tackling Fair Use

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

In late 2010, the NFL began to air a short promo during football games, which features grainy cell phone video of home audiences celebrating.

The video’s source footage, harvested from YouTube, includes scenes where members of the home audience pointed their cameras at their television screens during a game, in apparent violation of the NFL’s licensing restrictions.

Typical NFL broadcasts include the statement:

“This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent is prohibited.”

The promo illustrates the arbitrary and capricious nature of corporate attitudes towards the distinction between “fair use” and “copyright infringement.”  Commercial organizations such as late night talk shows, news broadcasts, and marketing firms routinely make use of footage that individuals produce and distribute on services like YouTube.  The individuals who originate this footage are rarely credited, even in commercial broadcasts.  At the same time, when individuals post commercial content to YouTube, that content is routinely removed.

Since the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, private firms have had a powerful tool to remove content from the Internet.  The DMCA provides a legal framework for the issuance of a “takedown notice” which compels an offending party to cease the distribution of infringing content.  This law has, however, been widely abused by businesses, often targeting small operators who don’t have the resources to determine whether a takedown notice is valid.

In a Spring 2009 statement issued through the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, Google claimed that 57% of the DMCA takedown notices it received were sent by firms seeking to frustrate competition, and that some 37% of the received takedown notices were not valid copyright claims.

Another noteworthy feature of this promo is the use of proprietary CBS trademarks in the status bar and on the field, as this spot is broadcast by competitors to CBS, such as Fox.

New Senate Bill Requires Citizens to Consume Tom Cruise Celebrity Gossip

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Transit TV is a company that installs televisions on busses and then sells advertising on those televisions.  I guess if you have to ride the bus to get to work, and are forced to watch these advertisements during that ride, you are, in a sense, part of “a captive audience” just as Transit TV claims.

Transit TV homepage Clipping

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.