I’ve worked Retail at Big Box Stores, one of those prime staples of employment for older working class women. Do you realize we are about to enter the Christmas Selling Season.
In many stores there are employees who work on the Forth of July preparing the store for “Back to School Selling Season”, which ends Labor Day Weekend and is followed by the start of the Christmas Selling Season, which is overlaid with the Halloween Selling Season.
Thanksgiving has been lost as a meaningful holiday, reduced to an orgy of football, advertising, gorging on crappy food and a weekend of credit card spending. The next month becomes a hammering of commercials urging you to buy crap we no longer manufacture at fictional prices so the rich can make profits on the one thing we still manufacture, debt.
Yes siree Folks… In the dystopian Brave New World Order credit card debt is prosperity and indebtedness is our most important product. Indebtedness is the surplus value that keeps end stage capitalism capitalism rolling. Welcome to the neo-feudal new servant economy.
Can’t have anyone slacking on that consuming.
We have become hooked on selling people crap, they don’t need or particularly want, in order to create the huge surplus value that feeds the ever increasing wealth of the 1%, the masters of the fucking Brave New World Order.
Part of that involves selling a lifestyle most working people will never really enjoy. They sell the image, not the reality. Many of us grew up in homes that were less than 2000 square feet. Now we are sold the need for twice that space. Oddly enough houses with all that extra space never feel more spacious because then we are sold stuff we need to fill that empty space. Instead of space to do things in we have more space to fill with things we are convinced will bring us happiness. But only if we buy them at an artificially low price while paying the hidden tax of credit card interest.
I read a lot. I play a little guitar and subscribe to Acoustic Guitar, which is better than many when it comes to the ratio of selling vs useful information.
I a pretty serious amateur photographer as well as camera trader With photography magazines the selling to information ratio isn’t so good, especially since the switch from film to digital.
Even though I’m not into fashion, I used to be and sort of still am hooked on fashion magazines. The overly photoshopped photography sucks and their photographers don’t deserve to load film holders for the late Avedon or any one of dozens of 1970s era photographers.
Actually the most interesting thing about fashion magazines is their selling of gender and class fantasies for adult women.
Gun and sports magazines do the same for adult men.
Back to fashion magazines. I’m at a loss as to who they are actually marketing to. They must inhabit some sort of parallel universe. Maybe Über Ultra Richistan. I go to museum openings and once in a while eat at some pretty fancy restaurants and never ever see women actually wearing those sorts of clothes.
Granted I don’t inhabit Über Ultra Richistan or fly on private jets.
The real product seems to be gender, more specifically a hard line binary form of gender. Cubicle slaves, big box concrete floor peon toiling away at the same job seem less rigidly binary.
The programing as to what is proper behavior for children starts young. Picking up/exhibiting the wrong sort of gender behavior is what initially marks out transkids. Punishment and abuse follows immediately.
Over the years, my support for the current “Transgender Community” emphasis on gender this, gender that has been tepid at best. I really question the turning of gender into this all purpose Swiss Army Knife sort of term. First it makes it way too easy for our enemies to claim we are using the term in a manner different from the way we mean to use it. When we use gender for that core sense of self we mean one thing. When someone else uses gender for the marketing of rigid sex roles to children they mean something completely different.
We face that chasm of misunderstanding each other, of talking past each other when one party is using a word, gender, to describe their core sense of being while the other party is using the word, gender, to describe the social construct of gender, which is what is being marketed to us 24/7.
I don’t usually think about the problems of subtexts, readings and semantics but clearly we have a problem when using a word with so many different readings, subtexts and meanings as to have no real concrete meaning.
Things like the term “gender binary” are even worse as they perpetuate the reality of what is an imagined or wished for marketing construct.
An article the other day really drove this home.
Is Diet Soda Girly?
Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee.
By Libby Copeland
Posted Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
Marketers, as well as anyone who’s been to a Toys R Us in the last 10 years, are well aware that a common way to goose sales is to split a market by gender. If body wash is a product traditionally purchased by women, design a body wash exclusively for men. Persuade both genders that they’re better off with their own gender-specific stuff, and you could wind up with double the sales—households with two types of bath soap, two types of diet soda, two sets of nearly identical kids’ building blocks, with one set in pink.
Part of the reason this approach works so well is that men, apparently, don’t want to buy stuff strongly associated with women. This resistance has led to ads like one launched recently for Dr Pepper Ten, a diet soda that attempts to address the fact that male consumers think “diet’s kinda girly,” as one of Dr Pepper’s execs put it to me. The new ad showcases a mountain man who chews bark and canoes with a bear; the tagline is “the manliest low-calorie soda in the history of mankind.”
A few years ago, an ad for Verizon’s Motorola Droid painted the iPhone as “a tiara-wearing, digitally clueless beauty pageant queen,” a “precious porcelain figurine of a phone,” and “a princess.” The Droid, meanwhile, was a “racehorse duct-taped to a Scud missile,” fast enough to “rip through the Web like a circular saw through a ripe banana”—at which point in the ad a banana explodes in a kind of orgy of male satisfaction. Got it. And earlier this year, when Google’s Sergey Brin gave a Ted talk boasting about the eyeglass/smartphone hybrid Glass, he criticized traditional smartphones for being “emasculating,” which was apparently code for physically limiting, socially isolating, and just plain lame. Could this be the germ of a future ad campaign? When even soda and smartphones have a gender, apparently anything can.
Some time ago, professor Jill Avery at the Simmons School of Management in Boston set out to explore this gender-based squeamishness, which seems like a holdover from the ew-cooties! phase of preschool. Within the business world, this squeamishness had long been the problem that has no name; marketing executives and consultants I spoke with were well aware of the issue but didn’t have the vocabulary to talk about it. Avery had to borrow from anthropology to find the term “gender contamination,” which traces back to the kind of ancient cultural taboos that banished menstruating women to special huts for fear they’d pollute everyone else.
Gender contamination captures the cultural disapproval that takes place when objects seen as having a strong gender identity are used by the wrong gender. Unilever’s vice president of skin care, Rob Candelino, told me that before Dove launched a cleansing bar specifically for men in 2010, the company’s research showed that men made up as much as a third of those using the traditional Dove beauty bar. But the original product was strongly associated with women, and as a result the men were using the product in a passive way, often letting their wives or girlfriends buy it, and “probably not telling their guy friends,” Candelino says. The beauty bar’s potential for growth among men was limited so long as it stayed a beauty bar.