Buying Personality

One of the conceits of youth, and the young-minded, is that their world and culture are their product and not the other way around. In other words: that they make their world, not that they are made by it. Industry goons creating the illusion of choice to give mistaken agency has been one of the greatest hoodwinks in history. Marketing works.

“This singer is popular because we like her,” may be true on a facile level, but it misses the deeper truth. That singer is liked because Simon Cowell, or others like him, have decided it. American Idol is brilliant because it shows us, in a symbolic, hyper-stylized way, just how art gets fucked for money. Vote for your favorite! But only after the panel tells you what to think (with enough variance to allow for that illusion of choice and mistaken agency). But was Rolling Stone magazine for sale at the record store any different? Disk jockeys and payola?

As we get older, most of us realize that what we thought was special and unique to our generation was, in fact, produced for us by the generations we thought we were rebelling against. Unless you were a flapper, every counterculture youth movement is only as original as its superficial trappings. So we hit a point where we realize, “okay, I’m eating Kraft Singles anyway, why not see the new Johnny Depp movie?”

Good consumers all. That’s modern life, it seems. It’s just when someone is past the age of thirty and still thinks their choice in what to consume makes them special, don’t expect much from them; there’s a teenager trapped inside that flaccid body.

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