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The Merchants Of Cool

  1. Mar 25, 2004 #1
    I just watched a show called The Merchants Of Cool, about turning American kids into a source of profit, to the extent of shaping their beliefs and behaviours. While I think people have free will and they're stupid punks if they don't realise what's going on, it's true that the companies are interested only in milking them for everything they can get. On their website they have LOTS of information, such as the companies which basically own it all, which parts of the mass media they own, which companies they have that profit from what they display, et cetera. While they definitely put the most negative spin on it they could, it was kind of interesting.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2004 #2
    Thanks Adam for pointing out an interesting website/topic.

    The following quotes give some flavour of the argument:

    "Today's young people are generally unresponsive to traditional brand marketing messages. What they do respond to is something "cool." But "cool" keeps changing. So if you're a marketer, how do you find "cool?""
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/etc/hunting.html

    MTV reps, under the guise of 'market researchers', do what is described as an ethnographic study of teens' lives: "closely studies the young, keeps them under very tight surveillance, to figure out what will push their buttons. Then it takes that and blares it back at them relentlessly and everywhere".
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/etc/close.html

    "...says Brian Graden, the channel's [MTV] president of programming. "And I can't help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready."
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/etc/synopsis.html

    Is this a cynical manipulation of teens (and an ironic using of rebellion against the norm to create the norm), or is it in fact showing teens respect by actually very carefully listening to what they are interested in (something parents often fail to do)?

    Is this bread & circuses or freedom of choice in action?
     
  4. Jun 12, 2004 #3
    The last person who is going to worry about this issue is MTV's President of Programming.
     
  5. Jun 12, 2004 #4
    You have a good point! Which makes me immediately doubt the validity of the source. However, it is PBS website, which I doubt would lie about MTV in this way (litigation). I have expanded on the quote to see if it makes things any less incredible:

    "...even some cool hunters are no longer sure that their work isn't having a negative impact. "Even though I work at MTV...I am starting to see the world more like someone who's approaching forty than someone who's twenty," says Brian Graden, the channel's president of programming. "And I can't help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready."
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front...c/synopsis.html

    Nope, its still pretty hard to believe. But here is the URL to contact PBS via:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front...c/synopsis.html

    Maybe Graden didn't mean what he said, in the way that he said it... or something? :confused:

    Or maybe its true, and he is genuinely worried. Never mind, the poor man can at least be comforted by his paycheck each month.
     
  6. Jun 12, 2004 #5
    "Even though I work at MTV...I am starting to see the world more like someone who's approaching forty than someone who's twenty," says Brian Graden, the channel's president of programming. "And I can't help but be worried that we are throwing so much at young adults so fast. And that there is no amount of preparation or education or even love that you could give a child to be ready."

    The test of whether or not he is really worried comes down to whether or not he is willing to step down and wash his hands of his activities. He probably won't, so his statements are probably nothing more than utter BS. He sheds crocodile tears.
     
  7. Jun 13, 2004 #6

    Moonbear

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    In other words, he's going to keep collecting his paycheck as long as it's someone else's kid being influenced, not his own.

    But, are the companies doing the marketing really to blame? Salesmanship and marketing have never really been ranked high up there on the ethics list. When you're out to sell a product, you sell it any way you can until the law puts a limit on it.

    Honestly, I think the problem with kids being so susceptible to these ads falls squarely in the parents' lap. Parents allow their children to watch hours and hours and hours of TV, and all the ads on it, without any supervision. And if they then send the kid out to the store unsupervised to buy whatever they want, of course they're going to come home with the stuff they saw advertised. What ever happened to the old tried and true parental admonition, "if everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you do it too?" Kids need to be reminded they are individuals who don't need to do whatever everybody else is doing. That message isn't going to come out of their TV screen, it has to come from parents.
     
  8. Jun 13, 2004 #7
    RE: "Parents allow their children to watch hours and hours and hours of TV, and all the ads on it, without any supervision. "

    I fixed that problem by taking out the tv altogether. Our family has not seen a tv screen in about two months (except for one visit to the grandparents.)

    This has worked like a charm. My daughter now asks profound questions about history and science. Both kids read a lot more than they used to. For news they log onto the Fox News site.

    And they don't really miss the television all that much. I highly suggest parents take a stab at it. Best decision we ever made.
     
  9. Jun 14, 2004 #8
    That would really give the markets a challenge if they found the new cool was to ask your dad profound questions. How would they spin a profit from THAT? Perhaps by marketing evening classes in science and philosophy to harrassed parents? :cry:

    Seriously though, cold turkey of the TV jones sounds good. I would be concerned though that un-brainwashed children might stand out amongst their peers, which is not always a postive thing, unfortunately.
     
  10. Jun 15, 2004 #9

    Gza

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    Fox News, IMHO, probably isn't the best news source to inform your kids with, if you intend to raise independent, free thinking people, which they already seem to be if they are asking you questions about science and history.
     
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