Updating an Old Argument

All your music sounds better when you play it really loud in your car. True story. During my short visit home, the stock speakers made Lupe Fiasco’s album kick just a little harder and I grew to really like “The Instrumental”:

He just sits, and listens to the people in the boxes
Everything he hears he absorbs and adopts it
Anything not coming out the box he blocks it
See he loves to box and hope they never stop it
Anything the box tell him to do, he does it
Anything it tell him to get, he shops and he cops it

This song takes on the academic argument about how advertising/media affects people, which is backed up by reams of research and ivy tower thinking. On the other hand, everyone in advertising is preaching “change” citing how TV and magazines are not as influential as they were before.

Have criticisms of advertising become outdated? Or have people woken up and are starting to see through BS of branding?

Admittedly, the second hypothesis is only half true (and half wishful thinking). While people still buy something because of the logo, people are starting to be really savvy about brands. There was an article in the NY times about streetwear companies that touched on this.

However, I think there is a very good case for the first one. Emerging medias have focused on narrowcasting and subsequently supporting the growth of smaller communities. In smaller communities, their size doesn’t warrant enough attention from the market, therefore they get to grow unaffected (or not as affected) by the status quo.

But, I think even the smaller communities have their own “boxes” and brands that they adore. For example, I’ve always raised an eyebrow at Giant Robot. It started off as a culture magazine, but now if you pick one up, you’ll see that it’s basically a catalogue with editorial content. And surprise, you can find all those things at the Giant Robot website or store in NYC.

So, are they just as evil as the big corporations or do we forgive them because they are serving a subculture? Because the original academic argument is dealing with control and the colonization of the mind and as far as I can tell, even in a subculture it still happens.

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One response to “Updating an Old Argument”

  1. wu says :

    ahh! marketing-speak buzzwords! 🙂 a brand to a product is like reputation to a person, so I don’t attach any evil connotations to the act of companies marketing themselves. I do tend to judge brands by who they cater to – Wal-mart established themselves as the cheap whore, Nordstrom’s the hard-to-get snotty rich girl, Nike’s the cool kid who’s probably not too bright up there, Apple’s the self-important elitist. 🙂

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