I don’t swear much nowadays, so it’s welcome, refreshing and comic to me to employ a bit of profanity here as, also, it is so utterly appropriate. I think so. You can decide for yourself.
I got this from Boodle, via mail, a few days ago. My outrage I know ties into a much larger, more hale picture that always swims before my eyes when I encounter advertising. I know I am not typical or balanced on the issue, but my resolve and insistence on my understanding as being fundamentally sound has grown over the years, not diminished. I hate advertising. I know hate is a strong word and hate, per se, is not an aspiration of mine. But I’m going to let the word stand for a moment. Ever since Edward Bernays hustled his uncle Sigmund Freud’s pseudoscience into advertising, it’s sucked. Playing on the most shallow, ephemeral and vain attributes of humanity. Sell the idea, the style, the aspiration, the snobbery, not the goods.
For eliciting an entire generation of American women to smoke, I hope Bernays is in fog hell, gagging for an asonkaya.
From informative and indicative of value, advertising has rotted into a desperate attempt to out swing everyone else’s dick. It’s sad, hollow and shit. All of it. If I were President, I would ban it. Of course, I would also confiscate banks’ annual after tax profits – leave them with a billion or so only – and build houses for poor folks with that money, so I have about as much chance of being elected as falling pregnant, but I want you to know this. I would do it. Sincerely, I would.
Advertising has either gotten larger (outdoor, which should be dynamited) or more desperate in its statements of value, or both. And thus shittier. Lousier. A ball of overpriced crap. Advertising is business’ whore. Overpriced, and only good at sucking in all the wrong ways. I know. I write advertising copy. So when I tell you that it’s a giant, overpriced, massive wank, I know what I’m talking about. All it seems to be about nowadays is inflating hype. Gone are the days of artisinal value. Now fuckers like Hilfiger and Nike get to toy with their billions while entire swathes of humanity work like sled dogs for pittance. I know this too. Not only because I’ve bothered to try and figure these things out in the world I live in by reading and researching, but because I married one of those workers. I know the brutality of capitalism. From all sides.
Business is about greed. Money. All of it. Having all of it. It’s the obvious pinnacle of the pyramid and only fools argue the point. There are many satisfied people in this world, making money, enough, who would deny such raw lust after wealth as we know it. Unfortunately for them, firstly, they are still playing the game that costs lives and, secondly, denial comes against the backdrop of a dearth of imagination. It’s more memory than imagination really. Just because the ages before lacked electricity, anesthetic, water borne sewerage and a host of other modern delights, we all “oooooh” and say a Hail Mary and slip on a Woolies gown while being so grateful for being alive at this time now, rather. Rather than the blunt and shitty past. Well, that knee-jerk reaction loses planets in its assumptions. Planets of value, genuine wealth, honesty, credibility and right living. It also loses sight of how skewed our trajectory has become, how pitifully we have done in our race to become civilized. When African children dig for gems in caving tunnels and millions of Asians die poor after a lifetime of hard labour, we’ve failed. Period. Not one of those lives – not one – was worth where we’ve arrived at now. Business, the never-questioned, ever-sacrosanct bully in the playground. Even the local government, formerly so good at mouthing deep and profound truths about the plight of the masses, now could not give those masses the time of day unless they’re paid for it. The ANC has finally emerged as the disgusting sack of money grubbing shit it is. There is no integrity left. Governments have very, very little integrity to begin with, so the ANC isn’t an exception, it’s a typical indicator. Those who sit fat in the seats of power, eating the commoners money, will pay for it in hell. Forgive me, but I’m looking forward to that.
So. Advertising. The constant, constant ramming of unnecessary, shit information through our eyes and ears. I long ago lost the ability to listen to the radio. It’s just such a load of shit. Perpetual rah-rah-rah in your earhole… Around 80% of my time listening to any radio station is spent listening to jingle crap I didn’t want to hear. The deal ran thin for me years ago. I just can’t take the constant sell-sell-sell shit that passes for radio. Or TV, for that matter. When TV first arrived in South Africa, yes it was only black and white. And yes it was only “on” for a few hours every night. But there were no adverts. None. We paid for it via licensing, remember? Then there were some in between shows. Then it became interrupting your show to shove shit in your brain. And now? Now middle class humans have to pay a small fortune every month to get less adverts on better TV. And even that offering is shit. Utter shit. And the fickle idiots who constitute the middle class have now taken the bait of big TV screens and the status of cable as some kind of having “made it”. The surest proof that God and humans are separate in their realms is that we don’t hear him cry… All the while, we just sit in the easy chair, soaking up the puerile crap that assaults us. I don’t own a TV. I’m a journalist, a writer. But a TV, I do not own.
I prefer not being a moron. I prefer to not have to be constantly vigilant, trying to sift through all the dirt for the gems, wasting snippets of my time entering into any given program only to decide it’s bollocks after all. The medium is flawed. I always find the way people say “You don’t own a TV?” a little comic and wholly indicative of how – from shacks to mansions – we all just assume that TV is some kind of essential asset for any modern human.
Intrinsic value eludes us.
TV is crap. Who, especially in this internet age, told you that you need one?
We still pay for TV, remember? Through licensing. But of course notwithstanding the fact that (especially) the public broadcaster is supposed to be a public service and the private entities are supposed to provide “entertainment”, they long ago sold advertising space to make money. More money. Pots of money. Money money money. Oh fuck the public interest, did you take that seriously? This is business, baby.
Anyway, Boodle. A loan shark. In a suit. Boodle sent me this mail as I’m sure it did a few million other South Africans. It was entitled “The owner’s manual for how to be a better human being.”
“Here is your owner’s manual for how to be a better human being.”
Firstly, oh my God, I had no idea that Boodle was into philosophy and had found the secrets of the psyche. Oh my GOD! I had no idea that Jesus had come back and appointed Boodle as the dispenser of divine wisdom! Oh my God… Maybe it was on TV? Maybe I should get a TV after all…
“1. Be kind. When people are kind to each other, it’s contagious. Kindness breeds kindness, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It takes more energy to be unkind, so why bother?”
You see, this is the third way advertising has become a festering blight upon humanity… blur the lines between a bowl of pudding and a piece of shit. Present as nice. Be nice. Give stuff to people to pull them in. Go for it! People are nice nowadays, so if you talk nice and act nice you’ll get their money… simple. So what, you sell children’s body parts. Just be nice about it. Give away a free lung every now and then. It’s ok. Just look & feel nice and talk nice and when you do constantly badger them to impoverish themselves further with shit they don’t need or loans they desperately need because no one is ever paid their worth anyhow, slip in your ugly, brute presence as something nice… it’s not lying, it’s just nice.
Also, that bit about “It takes more energy to be unkind…”? I had no idea Boodle had invested millions into mapping the human journey like this, measuring the energy levels of humans in order to get to the core truth of our souls… Wow. And, by the way, you sound like a dumbass teenager sitting on a park bench, mouthing platitudes.
“2. Care about and help others. Caring about and helping others should be a basic human instinct. When you see people in need, ask what you can do to help. Donate to charities when you can. We need to be a more compassionate (sic)”
Awesome. And, uuh, it is a basic human instinct. You just live in opposition to that, making people pay for life. Can you donate to me? I haven’t eaten properly for three days because I’m so broke right now. Can you be kind to me? To others? Can you take this month’s income, pay everyone and then give what remains to folks in need? Maybe drop cash from a plane flying over Johannesburg? That would be awesome, to see you follow your own inspiring advice. Really awesome.
“3. Be grateful for what you have. For so many these days it’s all about what they don’t have instead of what they do have. Let’s stop trying to outdo each other and instead be grateful for what we’ve got.”
But not, of course, if we can loan you money at a phenomenal rate of interest. Yeah, of course, be grateful, but don’t forget that you qualify for a few thousand from us to get that big screen TV you wanted. Remember? C’mon now, yes be grateful, but after you’re done feeling warm and fuzzy for a few seconds, come right back inside and we’ll fuck your anus just like we always do. C’mon now… I mean, yeah, that’s a nice thought, but don’t forget how pathetic you really are, how there’s no such thing as too much, how desperately empty you are inside and how we can help plug that yawning, gaping maw with lots of cash. Not as much as we fuck you out of, but, c’mon, you know this…
“4. Enjoy every day like it’s your last. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet. So what’s the sense in dwelling on the past or the future? Live in the moment! Live each day to its fullest!”
And by that we don’t mean forget that you owe us money, hey? Imagine you’re going to die tomorrow by all means, but imagine it like you can borrow from us to the hilt today because, well, fuckit, you might be dead tomorrow. Not as in, like, so what if I borrowed Boodle’s money and can’t repay them, I might be dead tomorrow. Ok, motherfucker? Get it right. Abandon fear! Throw caution to the wind! Borrow from us and indebt your miserable little existence on the planet even more than before! Every wage slave can justify it because no one is paid enough anyhow! We are a responsible lender. So, yes, we’re saying the most irresponsible thing ever concocted as advertising copy, but it feels good, doesn’t it? Fuckit! Abandon fear! And, while you’re at it, abandon all caution and hope of every getting out of this debt trap. Because that’s the way it works, sucker. You’ll spend your whole life scratching for enough money to able to be buried, you dumb shit, but,today, well, fuckit!
“5. Love more. There is so much hatred in the world. People hate people for the colour of their skin or their political or religious beliefs. Love is so much easier than hate. So, let’s love our fellow humans (and animals, too).”
For the Albanians, “loving animals too” doesn’t mean what you think it does, ok? You sick fucks… But, hey, love, flowers, peace and sunshine in a bright blue sky… So what if we’ve got you by the tits? Love, love, love. Love is free and wonderful and we’re so awesome for pointing that out, don’t you think?
“6. Set an example for your kids. Children are the most impressionable beings on the planet. If you want them to act a certain way, be the example for them. Like it or not, you are your child’s biggest role model.”
And, while we’re at it, we’ll just step into every last personal space you own (the hallmark of great advertising) and tell you how to treat and raise your children, how to walk upright, how to have a conversation, how to live in interracial harmony and how to wipe your ass.
They crediting lifting these illuminating words (and they would no doubt be illuminating, if they came from the Dalai Lama) from The Huffington Post, a prospective employer that has declined me oh at least a dozen times…
And the clincher… “Any questions contact us directly on 0861 BOODLE (266 353)”
Questions? About what? What’s left to ask, really? You’ve said it all. You’ve got it, Boodle! Thank you so much for making me feel all light and breezy while you fish for my wallet. You know, the last time I was raped, it was so brutal. I really appreciate you not ramming your dick up my ass without considering my feelings this time. Without going that extra mile to mouth some horseshit that you have absolutely no intention of living out yourselves. So rare to find that in a rapist, nowadays.
Hey, Boodle. Vlieg in jou kont in. Better yet, give all you have to the poor, and go in peace. Give it all away. Live the dream. Be the change. You go for it… Thanks for dipping into the budget to send me a feel-good email, you wonderful, caring, happy, loving people you! Now you go do it…