The Conquest of Cool – Business Culture, Counterculture & the Rise of Hip Consumerism (Paper) (Anglais) Broché – 1 décembre 1998
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All our ernest rejections of the conservative world around us in the 60s (to reject the old stuffy ways) were at bottom a convenient way to sell things, always new things, new and cool and hip. maybe that sounds like a bit of an overstatement, but read this and see what you think then.
And in today's world, where conservatives and liberals (whatever those things really mean) are at each other's throats, it may pay to reflect on the lessons here and ask whether any of the violently waged political battles today are actually real or just manipulated to sell things, beliefs, products, values, votes, all for manufactured causes. and I mean that as an observation regarding all sides. That isn't just Fox News, it is about the state of public debate in general. when you are down in the trenches, can you really tell to what extent someone is pulling the strings? This book gives you reason to pause and wonder.
If things don't appear to change, if we don't have cool and new to look forward to, then why would anyone want to buy anything new. that is the insight provided here. Where did that desire of the new and cool come from? The rush to the newest restaurant, the latest fashion, rejecting the out of date, these just allow someone to sell more junk to us. It is a scary thought. But when you look at the research here, it is not only plausible but it seems likely.
I remember an interview with a rock star of the 60s who boasted that by publishing his music the Establishment was laying the very seeds for its own destruction. Nonsense. Nothing truly subversive would ever be allowed to pass through those hallowed commercial halls. Frank's book shows just how insidious the Megamachine is in its cultural hegemony.
The dilemma the author addresses is a simple but important one: how does one enjoy the benefits of living in a prosperous, corrupt, and hypocritical society without feeling prosperous, corrupt, and hypocritical. It all changed in the late 60s. What was once called `white man's burden' suddenly became `white man's guilt'. Advertisers responded as they always have, by catering to people's needs. Give them what they want while doing their best to ameliorate the feelings of guilt. One of the consequences is that we have to face 158 different kinds of shampoo.
But there's another side to this story. Not all of us 80 million Boomers were so guilt ridden and socially conscious. For many the immediate response was revulsion over the hypocrisy of the counterculture. So for every anti-conformity ad during the period in question one can probably find as many instances of conformity-appeal, family values, American tradition and so forth. It's partially a class divide. Remember that over 70% of the population never gets a four year degree. And while this segment of society may not have anywhere near the amount of disposable income per-capita as their educated counterparts, they still represent a huge prize for corporate America. Consider the commercials that target the working class: Levis, Pick-up trucks, Marlboros, and the like.
The ad agencies changed in the 60s along with a young, gregarious, and affluent segment of society. This is not a startling revelation. But it's still a marvelous book. If you are my age you won't be able to help summoning up memories of all those idiotic, be yourself, and do-your-own-thing ads -- and of some other unpleasant memories, such as that ugly Volvo I used to drive...
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