Tivo, the increasingly popular programmable television recorder, has just launched Tivo Stop||Watch. This is a new spying service that will allow its corporate subscribers to know in fine demographic detail exactly who is watching what shows and ads, on a second-by-second basis. Tivo promises its corporate clients: “TiVo enables clients to track not only when a specific spot was viewed, but also whether variances in ad exposure can be correlated with changes in all kinds of consumption behavior….By observing variances in ratings based on these variables, it is possible to clearly determine how each influenced the effectiveness of the campaign and optimize the future return on similar investments.”
None of this, of course, is disclosed to the users of Tivo boxes. That would spur avoidance and resistance, and is utterly forbidden.
Remember this completely logical and predictable and normal development the next time you hear the phrase “the free market.” Cats everywhere are laughing their asses off.
Today, I have deleted my bookmark to slate.com, and, after checking out this link, I encourage you to do so as well. Let’s promise to boycott this bogusly “new” electronic shit-rag for the den of conventional immorality it has always been. This bullshit is just rank. Can you believe it? Applebaum’s pathetic McCarthyism is straight out of 1951 — except worse, because she never mentions the multiple elections Chavez has won (and the U.S. has attempted to subvert).
Clicking on slate.com generates incomes for the idiots who publish and write for it, as well as profits for their corporate sponsors. Don’t do it any more. To put it mildly, you won’t be missing much.
Why, then, the intrepid AV Clubber asks, such plain-Jane starlets on the show?
The answer is beyond simple, if you have any working knowledge of the controlling force behind this and all other commercial TV shows: big business marketing.
The marketing rationale for this apparent “mystery” is that “Sex and the City” is nothing more than a vehicle of flattering ordinary, average-looking women into believing they could, if only they were single and living in SoHo, be one of the friends of cigarette-smoking “Carrie,” the show’s supposedly “smart” and “sexy” central character.
You see, if the actresses were really as stunning as you would expect them to be, based on knowing how the real world actually works, they would be fantasy-killers and, thus, drive away viewers. Knowing this, the packagers of “Sex and the City” cast four comparatively homely lead actresses. The implanted reaction: “See? They’re not models. Neither am I! I could totally hang with Carrie!”
This implanted reaction was a piece of smart, effective, conventional marketing. The purpose of “Sex and the City” was (and is — it’s massively being re-run) to deliver the maximum number of female eyeballs to its sponsors’ advertising campaigns. To do this, its producers simply decided to make the lead characters “attainable” in both looks and behavior, so that the “girls” in the audience would indulge the show’s proposed fantasy of decadent, pampered, narcissistic shopping, dining, and man-chasing.
Of course, once the eyeballs get delivered, the more ordinary “aspirational” flatteries return: “Buy this cosmetic, and you will look like Halle Berry.”
The lesson here was stated well by my favorite ad critic, Leslie Savan. To understand corporate marketing, Savan says, “follow the flattery.” Once you do that, many “mysteries” evaporate.
Corporate capitalism operates via 6 core industrial complexes:
3. F.I.R.E. (finance, insurance, real estate)
6. Government (financial and ideological subsidy to capitalism)
The loss of any one of the huge spending streams flowing through these complexes would spell doom for the system.
With the possible exception of F.I.R.E., which sells its stuff mostly to the ruling class itself, all these capitalist-industrial complexes are now managed via the strategems and methods of big business marketing.
The strategems are coercion in several forms: lies, threats, flattery, and Pavlovian conditioning.
The methods are targeting and marketing research (i.e. corporate espionage on private citizens’ “free time”), product management (i.e. manipulative packaging), and sales communications.
The task ahead of us is to reclaim government from the corporate elite, then use it to rebuild our society away from these Six Deadly Complexes. Failure in this task promises us the Mad Max outcome we’re hurtling toward.
Capitalists know only one solution to any problem: redoubled doses of the same old medicines. The reign of the automobile and the auto-industrial complex is clearly doomed. There is simply not enough energy in the world to make it last past roughly the middle of this century.
So, what do corporate car-marketers do? They heighten their efforts to misinform their “targets.”
The latest form of this trend is the change in the way car-capitalists state their miles-per-gallon claims in advertising. The old practice was to state two MPG ratings, one for city driving, the other for highway. So, my 1998 Toyota Corolla was advertised as having 32/41 MPG.
Now, in these increasingly dangerous end times for the automobile, the marketers have taken to simply shifting the city part of the MPG rating into the footnotes. Virtually all new ads that bother to mention MPG now only state the highway rating.
This is neither more nor less than planned disinformation, an intentional attempt to alter people’s access to and perceptions of vital information about products. Though you will never see this fact admitted in public, it is a standard method of big business marketing.
Capitalism, you see, is a just a well-disguised form of humanity’s 6,000-year run of pre-historic barbarism. A a social system, it is entirely of a piece with the older forms of class coercion that its apologists have long tried to distinguish it from.
Al Gore has just won the Nobel Peace Prize for making the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” So far, talk of the consequences, however interesting and important, has entirely missed the deepest meaning of the award: By endorsing Gore’s insidiously wrong-headed film, the Nobel committee has seriously worsened the already terrible ideological climate shielding the reign of the private automobile from the serious democratic scrutiny it requires.