You’re suckers. And you’re being lied to. Oh, sorry, did I hurt your feelings? People seem to get agitated when I recite my old saw that, “Young people are stupid.”
Let me be clear, that I am a recovering youth. I was stupid. I was once the future.
Coke, Coke, Pepsi, new-tech. It’s all geared towards you, the special ones, the future — the old folks don’t get it.
Of course because this is America (even if this is the UK – it’s still America. They officially own financially, spiritually, anything west of Dover). This is all a great ploy to sell you something. To suck from you, those old peoples dollars.
The young are rubes. They buy into this completely, thumbing the eyes of the old people, calling them out of touch, saying, “ They don’t get it” as if they were the ones who planted this idea in their own heads in the first place.
Then, dear youth, to the minute, once the powers at be have sucked you dry of every last ounce of Youth Market spending, they will hand you a brochure titled Consumer Products for Over-Thirties (furniture, organic produce, wellness activities) before guiding you straight out of the building, like someone who’s just been fired.
The things you buy are stupid. The things we bought were stupid. Who do you think gave Adam Sandler a career?
So, you’re stupid. We were stupid. Of course some youth are the shining future leaders. They are the ones who grow up to sell stupid things to all the stupid kids of the stupid kids they grew up with.
Sorry, you want an upbeat ending?
Well, we didn’t have those in my day! So deal with it.
Oh, fine. A positive prescription for how to save the world along with the thesis encapsulated:
The notion that you are better than the generation before you simply because you are younger, is a corporate backed narrative that has been concocted by rich businessmen who have instilled this in you for the sole purpose of selling you as much as they can before selling the exact same lie to the generation that will immediately follow you in succession.
So what can you do?
Read comic books.
Melt your phone.
They can’t call you old and out of it, if you were never young and dumb in the first place.
Hey, gang! Have you heard the news?! Corporations are our friends! They care about the social issues, women’s rights, black people, diverse casting opportunities, the environment – well, no, wait, that one hasn’t caught enough traction yet as to be profitable enough this quarter – but, hey no one’s perfect! Besides, you don’t care about the environment either ( not yet anyway, although if the Corona debacle [the fun way to say pandemic – a spoonful of sugar, right?] is any indication, I can’t wait to see people protesting while Mother Nature finally shrugs us off: “The government can’t make me wear these lava resistant boots or this carbon monoxide air ventilator! I want to spend my last days on Earth as I lived them, dammit! Shrouded in a blanket of willful ignorance!”) So who cares!
Cynical tone i hear you say? Well, let’s think about it. Take Hollywood for example! They care do they? Or do they finally see the profit in equal opportunities?
Oh, come on, you say…you could say that about any organization that isn’t a non profit in contemporary society. Business is Business, you say. Oh and you would say that wouldn’t, oh young acolyte of Bezos, yes I feel another excoriating article boiling up, about the disturbing melding of the artist and business, but instead I utilize the techniques learned from Headspace, pulling my mind gently back to the topic at hand.
True the business of mainstream media is to spot trends, so as to increase consumership. Though, there is a difference between an organization whose mission statement from the get-go is a righteous cause who just so happens to make money in the process i.e. some organic health food brands, then there is an organization (Hollywood, McDonalds, 99% of the SNP 500) that totally alters their mission statement solely because they think it will heed a profit.
See the difference?
Isn’t it a little annoying that the same organization that was stuffing racism, sexism, and any other ism they could conjure up, down our throats for the last three decades at least, suddenly pivoting, and getting to clean up, and get paid working for the other side now? Anybody ever read RED HARVEST??
Did the Hollywood pitch meeting circa 2015 go something like this:
Man (white): Enough! We have the reach of the entire globe! It is our duty to infecting the mind of the public with racist, misogynist, garbage!
Man (white): Guys, I’ve run the numbers – Susan, step outside, men are talking — sorry boys. Anyway, I’ve run the numbers and you’ll never believe this, but the people want to see more blacks!
2nd Man ( whiter)(raises hand): This doesn’t mean we have to hire more blacks or promote them into positions with decision making power, does it?
Man (white): God no! We’ll just make em dance for us.
Man (white): Susie, Susie bring those sweet tits in here with a round of drinks for these closers, huh? Not for you SHELLY, drinks are for CLOSERS! Anyway, move it jiggles!
Oh, yeah, and one more thing boys, we are going to make more, ‘powerful women’ films too.
[Audible grumbles break out, a man spits his drink all over himself, then a low murmur of ‘…wonder woman…?’]
I think you know the answer to this.
While sitting at an outdoor table in front of a chain cafe eating some bland concoction I bought at the grocery store, I noticed two young girls taking photos of themselves for, I kid you not, about a half hour straight. Then I realized I was a thirty-five year old man sitting on a park bench watching two young girls so I vacated before the authorities were alerted by the neighborhood watch.
Probably an Instagram Story, I thought to myself while chewing slowly, pensively.
Everything is content.
Your whole life monetized.
Sitting there in front of the cafe, intermittently swatting away the woman who kept disguising her real question, ‘are you going to buy anything?’ with phony inspections as to my well being such as, ‘do you need anything?’, I cerebrally birthed the following philosophical nugget.
My personal predilection is to the here and now. When I was younger, I was told I didn’t like responsibility. That was as true then as now. Responsibility is a distraction, a trap. An errand.
Parents used to say, ‘I HAVE to RUN an ERRAND.’ None of that sentence sounds fun.
Nobody wants to HAVE to do anything. Nobody likes RUNNING. Errand speaks for itself.
At the moment I was having a great day.
I was now sitting outside on the afternoon of a weekday, remembering my old office bosses in order of opprobrium.
Before that I had walked around a cemetery playing with a Rubik’s Cube I found at the entrance. What kind of philosophical metaphor in action was that?!
On my walk I saw the same construction worker twice. Once, leering at anyone with a pulse as they passed by. Next, passed out asleep on the job.
That’s some pretty good content right there, I thought.
So why not take the time to take my phone out, film myself walking around the gravestones or cracking wise at old Slob the Builder?
Actually, I enjoy talking to camera when afforded the opportunity.
Because when I talk to the camera I am doing just that. I’m here. I’m now. I’m talking to the camera. I’m engulfed in this singular experience. The camera operator is filming. He is engulfed in that singular experience. Both of us, focused.
When a person takes it into their own hands, literally, to film themselves with their phone, they are neither only filming nor only performing. They are diluting both experiences. They exist momentarily in a vacuous vortex of nothing. They are neither self nor not-self.
They are CONTENT.
Overtaken by this epiphany I spoke the preceding paragraph aloud, at top volume, before the woman at the cafe called the police.
The below is my vain attempt from around 2015 (?) to both have Twitter while at the same time not have Twitter.
The screenshots are exactly what my Twitter account looked like back then. The plan was to just leave that up as a fun little thing for people to find, if they so chose to seek me out. It was my way of reconciling my natural lifestyle while at the same time not constantly feeling like I was self destructing in some way.
It was painstaking as I had to write the actual tweets backwards while people who were following me probably thought I was having a meltdown, as there is no way to upload the tweets without doing it publicly. So, I went as fast as I could before people could realize what was happening.
No one has ever mentioned it to me, leading me to believe no one ever read it or noticed. This is the rewards for originality on the internet today.
I still like it.
Ok, so that link to the ‘fictional conversation with Jack Dorsey’ would take the reader to a Tumblr page, to read the following (note, this was before Dorsey cleaned his image up a bit, started shaming Bezos for not being more charitable, calling out misinformation, etc. Back then we all just thought he was a douche):
I can’t believe I thought anyone would actually take the time.
I mean, are you even still here now?
“The robots are already here and they want your clicks.”
“The monetization of the soul, the dilution of the purity of creation, and other things no body cares about.”
“A cynical bastard thinks to much between large gulps of high octane caffeine.”
“A brief discussion about the dangers of nomenclature”
Tim Minchin said on a podcast once, ‘Everyone is a brand, whether they want to admit or not. Daniel Kitson is a brand, whether he wants to admit or not.’
Several comedians nodded in agreement. Many of them shared their concurrence with this point to me after it aired.
What I pointed out to each one of them was that calling oneself a brand is a choice. A very important choice that tells one a lot abut the person making the distinction.
A person sees a cat. They have the choice of either calling it a feline, a kitty cat, or a fine specimen of animal meat. Assuming the cat is in good health, than technically all three of those are correct. Wether the cat wants to admit it or not.
The distinction lies in the person labeling the cat. What can we learn about that person from the three ways they might choose to describe our cat?
Feline: a little stilted. They’re either posh or a dental hygenist. Maybe they host a nature program.
Kitty Cat: They’re twelve. It’s adorable.
A fine specimen of animal meat: Grab the children, lock the doors, call the cops or get the ‘feline’ guy to make a call to his friends in Parliament.
The fact that one does not call themselves a brand is an indication of exactly where they are coming from. And with regard to art, where you are coming from is the whole damn point.
That’s why art can be anything from a Picasso to a toilet bowl. It’s about what went into it (excuse the mental image).
Maybe the guy who made the toilet bowl was raised by his father in Italy and since he was a boy, his papa taught him the spiritual importance of every day house hold amenities.
Every time he molds the porcelain with his bare hands he does it with a passion, an intensity, that is imbued in every throne. He loves toilet bowls. He believes they are the essence of our being on this Earth. He misses papa.
If the guy who made the toilet bowl put that into it, then you might wonder why you weep at the sight of it every time you go to take a shit.
Likewise, when something is made specifically for consumption, as in it smacks of market research, focus group approval (looking at you Stranger Things) it well, just sucks.
You can’t even explain it. It just does. Like when you walk into a hipster coffee shop that just doesn’t feel right. The barista has giant plugs in his ears, he’s kind of an asshole, esoteric alt rock is playing over the speakers, it all checks out. But you feel eerie, like something is off, until you find out that the ‘independent coffee shop’ is actualy owned by Tesco.
So call it content if you want. Call yourself a brand. Read Tim Ferris and study billionaires. Tell me time is money. Have a five year plan and know exactly which direction your career is headed. Study algorithms and marketing techniques. Post on social media not because you want to, but because you have to. Forget fulfillment, get success.
And for God sakes, above all, keep Tim Minchin away from your cat.