Big business marketing makes education its natural twin topic. That’s partly because BBM receives twice the budget of all U.S. schools combined, and also because, as the #1 devourer of the mental energies of the citizenry, it is also the #1 enemy of teachers.
Nonetheless, education is itself a major false answer to the massively harmful core purpose and product of corporate capitalism: the radical maldistribution of wealth and power.
Consider the latest findings about how that maldistribution affects human lives. According to today’s New York Times:
Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate.
Hey, kids, let’s have a bit of fun, shall we? Which of these three realities, as reported upon in Advertising Age today, gets your vote as marketing creep of the day? All three strike your humble editor as strong, strong candidates.
Now we [again] see the violence inherent in the system. Here’s the meat of a new Ad Age story on the expanded powers marketers are about to gain from the forthcoming launch of a new generation of TV gaming consoles:
“We are trying to bridge some of the world between online and offline,” [a Microsoft VP] said. “That’s a little bit of a holy grail in terms of how you understand the consumer in that 360 degrees of their life. We have a pretty unique position at Microsoft because of what we do with digital, as well as more and more with television because of Xbox. It’s early days, but we’re starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly.”
Xbox One can essentially work like TV that watches you, bringing marketers a huge new trove of data about what’s going on in living rooms, including, as one marketer put it after the speech, unprecedented information about how people engage with TV advertising.
Given that Xbox 360 has sold more than 78 million units, if even a fraction of likely Xbox One users could be persuaded to share data, the technology could create the world’s largest panel for measuring biometric responses to advertising.
The new generation of Kinect technology in Xbox One can distinguish up to six voices in a room, respond to voice commands, read skeletal movement, muscle force, whether people are looking at or away from the TV and even their heart rates, Mr. Mehdi said. The latter happens as the camera detects slight changes in skin tone related to dilation of a blood vessel in the eyeball that responds to heart rate, Mr. Mehdi said.
In a feature that was controversial among some users, Microsoft originally said that the Xbox One would have to be connected to the internet and Mircosoft’s servers at least once every 24 hours to function. After consumer outcry, Microsoft backed down. It also dropped its original plan to require that Kinect technology always be on for the console to work.
TCT exists to publicize the true methods and consequences of big business marketing, which is corporate capitalism’s use of scientific management to control off-the-job behavior. Despite the importance of knowing how the overclass dictates the conditions and evolution of personal life, it does not follow that the proper answer to such dictatorship is an effort to politicize product-use in itself. In fact, such efforts always quickly reduce themselves to naive and paternalistic harangues for individuals to somehow use their “consumer” choices to alter the socio-economic system. “Shop your way to a decent society!” “Join/start a co-op!”
I mention all this because the profoundly annoying figure Annie Leonard is redoubling her deeply silly efforts.
TCT could expound on the fit between Ms. Leonard’s flimsy analyses and the cartoon format of their presentation, but will for now confine itself to remarking on this core Leonardian thesis:
Rubbish. Pure and complete rubbish. When has anybody anywhere ever asked a representative sample of Americans “Do you believe that more is always better?” The plain and simple answer is that nobody ever has. And, if they ever did, the question would undoubtedly draw a massive “No” answer, because very few people, even in this hugely indoctrinated nation-state, are banal enough to think quality doesn’t matter. Quite the contrary: Everybody but capitalists knows this very, very well.
And yet here we have Annie Leonard school-marming us on this totally fake (and insulting) point. To what end? Liberal university students eager to acquire an easy way of being “political,” perhaps? Certainly not Joe or Jane Sixpack, who would be rightly insulted by such pointless pandering, if they were ever to see it.
Our real problem is that popular desires for better, saner ways of living are simply ignored in our market totalitarian society. And, as Barry Commoner argued, “the only rational answer [to so-called "consumer" issues] is to change the way in which we do transportation, energy production, agriculture and a good deal of manufacturing. The problem originates in human activity in the form of the production of goods.” Politics, in other words, is about demanding and gaining control over macro-choices, not special-pleading over micro ones.