Ann Druyan Gets Her Hicksie

Ann Druyan, widow and proprietor of the estate of Carl Sagan, is the newest recipient of the much-uncoveted Golden Hicksie Award, which TCT distributes to dishonor especially egregious sell-outs.

Sagan, of course, remains one of the most famous and forceful expositors of scientific worry over our social order’s continuing destruction of its own ecological basis.

Which makes it especially galling that his life-partner and executor is now licensing his image and words to sell Jeeps.

Druyan seems to have been wooed into this disgusting pratfall by the perhaps debonnair and certainly oh-so-French chief of marketing at Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, le monsieur Olivier Francois.

Here is how Druyan described her Hicksie-worthy blunder to Automotive Age:

“He said, Annie, we built you a car. And I was so flattered and delighted,” says Druyan, a longtime writer and producer and founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios, a maker of science-based entertainment.

The “car for her” in question is, of course, an available “electric” option on your new Jeep!

This unexamined, brazenly unscientific (yet heavily sponsored) presumption — that “electric” automobiles are somehow meaningfully better for Earth than small gasoline cars — is about to become a platform plank in a certain kind of deeply dangerous liberal practicality. It is, among other things, now an official selling point for California’s power elite.

Meanwhile, ponder the manifold uber-Orwellian dimensions of the marketing campaign Druyan has allowed FCA to promulgate:

“To explore and cherish the only home we’ve ever known.” That, friends, is one of the taglines.

We could conduct a week-long workshop on the multiple perversities of just this single sentence.

So to Ann Druyan, TCT says it: For shame! You have managed to make turds fall out of Carl Sagan’s mouth.

The Source of Trump’s Fortune

apprentice logo image

Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, and very widespread.

Its cardinal symptom is perceiving this highly predictable product of market totalitarianism (itself a highly predictable product of corporate capitalist normalcy) as an anomaly, rather than an outcome.

TDS has two main strains.

One is the absurd, Clinton/Democratic Party-promoted idea that Trump, who is both patently incapable of holding complex thoughts and also the very definiton of unreliability, is somehow a Russian agent.

The other is what I call the “Doorstep-of-Fascism” hypothesis. This variant of TDS paints Trump as somehow about to unleash state totalitarianism in this increasingly progressive, structurally ungovernable, and thoroughly couch-potatoed society.

The New York Times‘ reporting this week on Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, however, shows the real truth about the origins of this mega-cretin:

The Times calculates that between 2004 and 2018, Mr. Trump made a combined $427.4 million from selling his image — an image of unapologetic wealth through shrewd business management. The marketing of this image has been a huge success, even if the underlying management of many of the operating Trump companies has not been.

Other firms, especially in real estate, have paid for the right to use the Trump name. The brand made possible “The Apprentice” — and the show then took the image to another level.

NYT, September 27, 2020, emphasis added

Trump inherited his daddy’s ill-gotten fortune, and used his privilege to sell himself, at a lucky early moment, as Reaganism’s Ideal Man. Commercial television, which exists to promote the sale of corporate products, then eventually hired Trump to continue peddling this sick fantasy — and it worked, all around, as the Times story reveals.

So, the obvious main fact is this: The bulk of Donald Trump’s fortune — half a billion dollars — came from the entirely normal and logical workings of mainstream American corporate media, meaning the normal and logical workings of “our economy.” Trump, in other words, is as American as Ronald McDonald, Nancy Pelosi, and the CBS Evening News.

Liberal and radical physicians, heal thyselves.

Why NPR Sucks

Alexander Cockburn used to argue that, under corporate capitalism, one function of the major mass media is clever misreporting of important stories.

With this powerful hypothesis in mind, take a listen to this little ditty from today’s version of NPR’s Morning Edition:

The story is about how Bloomberg News instructed its own award-winning reporters to stop probing the wealth and power of China’s ruling class [story behind paywall, of course], and went so far in the effort as to try coercing its journalists’ life partners into signing NDAs.

So, important story, for sure. But what, pray tell, is it about?

Surely, the story is about the severe limitations placed on journalism by private, for-profit media ownership — right, National Public Radio?

Nope. Not even close.

What, instead, does NPR — the supposedly alternative content “made possible” by its constantly-mentioned private sponsors — say their own story is about?

Mike Bloomberg might be a weasel.

What else at Bloomberg News is being hidden if such contracts exist that require such secrecy?

Innovation and Capitalist Medicine

John Power reports on yet another appalling aspect of the world’s most expensive medical scheme:

Balking at the cost of in-house research, major drug companies have slashed R&D budgets in recent years to focus on the late-stage development and manufacturing of treatments pioneered externally – often by publicly funded entities such as government institutes and universities.

All 210 new drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 2010 and 2016 were developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health, which distributes about 80 per cent of its US$40 billion annual spend on medical research to more than 2,500 universities and research institutes worldwide.

“Big Pharma generally do not have research divisions anymore,­ they gave those away when they found their research was three times as expensive per drug developed than ones sourced from academia,” said Ian Frazer, a professor at the University of Queensland who co-invented the human papillomavirus vaccine. “Industry only gets involved in manufacturing and marketing a likely successful product.”

Shameless

Ah, Procter & Gamble corporation, you know no limits. Truly and completely shameless.

Some actual human beings worked on this campaign to literally turn forests into corporate dividends by researching — can you imagine doing this?!?! — and promoting this uber-self-parody for an entire late-imperial overclass. These people will do absolutely anything for another dollar.

Spike Lee Earns a Hicksie

Here at TCT, we occasionally bestow our widely un-coveted Golden Hicksie Award on highly deserving individuals and groups.

The GHA commemorates the late comedian Bill Hicks, who once said this:

“Here’s the deal folks: you do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call forever. End of story, OK? You’re another corporate fucking shill, you’re another whore at the capitalist gang-bang. And if you do a commercial, there’s a price on your head, everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink.”

Bill Hicks, 1961-1994

The newest GHA recipient is the one-and-only Spike Lee, who is apparently now making mega-commercials for no less a sociopathic, ecocidal, petty-bourgeois thing than the Cadillac Escalade.

Automotive News reports:

Spike Lee is slated to introduce the redesigned Cadillac Escalade during Oscars week in Hollywood next month with the premiere of his latest short film centered on the fifth generation of the Cadillac flagship.

The Oscar-winning actor, producer and director’s film — called “Anthem” — highlights the innovation of the 2021 Escalade with a filming technique that heightens the sense of motion for viewers, according to a Cadillac statement. The film will be shown at the Escalade reveal Feb. 4.

Due to its special achievements in the area of assisting TPTB with courting carmageddon, Mr. Lee’s GHA is being co-awarded by TCT and our sister site, Death by Car.

Mr. Lee has this astounding bit to say about his shameless, needless greed:

“I’m honored to be part of the next generation of the Escalade, which embodies style, luxury and prestige conveyed without pretension.”

Notwithstanding this claim, here is the main selling point for this monster, according to your friend and mine, the General Motors corporation:

Among the features the sweeping film highlights is the new Escalade’s industry-first curved OLED screen technology, which offers bold imagery, perfect blacks and the largest color range of any automotive display in production today.

For those keeping track, that’s a brag about a new-and-improved TV in the car. You know, “innovation.”

Lee, of course, has long sold his skills and reputation to corporate marketers. This newest project, though, is truly Hicksie-worthy.

He’s gotta have it.