basically it was a lie: the weight of conformity

Technology. Television, internet, music. What Theodor Adorno called “the culture industries” . This was seen by Walter Benjamin in the 1920’s as being at the forefront of what was termed “modernity”. Benjamin saw this as “radical immediacy” and it would be at the heart of modern life of which the danger of the change, at a social and cognitive level would be trigger a cultural homogeneity and exaggerated consumerism ebbing and flowing with the immediacy of the moment. Hershey’s paid a million dollars to have Spielberg script in ET eating Reese’s pieces. Since then, product placement has become a ubiquitous part of the film viewing experience. And, as the number of screens eyeballs watch has grown almost exponentially, so too has product placement…

Morgan Meis:In his historical study of 19th-century Paris — the Arcades Project — Walter Benjamin said, "Jugendstil is the second attempt on the part of art to come to terms with technology. The first attempt was realism." Benjamin considered this second attempt largely to be a failure. To him, Art Nouveau was the clumsy process of trying to "dress up" the inorganic forms of modern construction in the false clothing of the natural world. Basically, it was a lie. Read More: image:

There were two opposing views that are not yet resolved. Adorno, claimed the “culture industry” turned everyone into shoppers and foreclosed the possibility of thought and heterogeneity. “Benjamin took a much different approach, instructive for us in our post 9/11 crisis culture wherein homogeneity is circulated by reducing the world to a Manichean struggle between democracy and terror. He argued that, rather than taking a position that merely reacts to the media, intellectuals should imitate it and use its strengths in the name of revolution and heterogeneity. For this reason, he argued that criticism should incorporate aspects of film and, strangely enough, the most open media expression of capitalism: the advertisement.” Read More:

---Even more central to Benjamin’s investigations in this section is the work of J.J. Grandville (pseudonym of French caricaturist Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard). Benjamin describes the “subtleties” of his caricatures as “expressing what Marx called the theological niceties of the commodity---Read More: image:

Benjamin first remarked the change with Art Nouveau or Jugendstil in Germany; it being a second attempt of art to confront technology. He saw there was an attraction to sterility that was a dominant theme, and a byproduct of the effort to incorporate technology into art. Jugenstil’s girls’ infertility, said Benjamin, the unreproductiveness, was paired by technology’s increasingly excessive production to reproduce almost infinitely in terms of reproductive powers but also in relation to technology’s omnipresence in the environment.

---Benjamin regarded Jugendstil (a version of Art Nouveau) as part of a reactionary struggle against the onslaught of technology, which Jugendstil strives to "sterilize" by "ornamentalizing" technology with natural forms, thus severing "technologically constituted forms" from their "functional contexts" and turning them into "natural constants." Nature enters history in highly stylized form as a trove of images to be used to negate technology. Similarly, green technology regards nature not as something to be rescued from technology itself. The modernists mourned a banished nature; the green technologists worry about a perishable nature.---Read More: image:

Felix Gillette: ( Ben )Silverman’s vision with Electus is to drive advertising deeper into the entertainment creation process. The advent of the DVR—now in 37.3 percent of American homes according to Nielsen—allows TV viewers to skip commercials at will. Silverman wants to make advertising inescapable by bringing major corporations into the writer’s room and putting brands directly into the shows they’re sponsoring. This is not product placement, in which a brand is integrated into an already fully formed show (such as Coca-Cola with American Idol or Glad with Top Chef). It’s a symbiotic arrangement in which writers and a brand create a show together—and in which the brand is as much a part of the cast as the wacky neighbor or wise grandpa. Read More:

J.J. Grandville. Feuer:Money also touches us. According to Benjamin, it brings the "man of the street" into "perceived contact with things." Indeed, Benjamin tells us that money does the same things a good film or advertisement does. Furthermore, a paid critic who plays the role of an artistic "interior decorator" for his patron has a knowledge which is even greater than the art lover; money brings him a different, if not more intimate, knowledge of art which, although highly subjective and profit-driven, brings warmth and contact with the "subject." For Benjamin, this is central; and if art criticism can't do it, then perhaps it isn't good enough. The tone of these assertions puts criticism on the market, which, as we saw above with Adorno, is the very thing one must resist to protect critical thought. Read More: image:

Morgan Spurlock’s new movie is called POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Spurlock’s subject is the ubiquity of branded messages in our lives, and the increasing prevalence of product placement. The wrinkle here is that the film was paid for by product placement and advertising. There is a point here,  of which the comedy of the work is based on.  It documents Spurlock’s efforts to get brands to fund a project whose purported aim is to show their marketing practices in a less than favorable fashion. In the end it condones consumerism, by soft-selling the practice and disavowing athenticity, the logical extension of Benjamin’s theories on radical immediacy. The film is essentially public relations for advertising by Spurlock’s implicit acceptance of the “merits” of branded advertising. And in POM, advertising is 100% of the film’s content. Its clearly from the Ben Silverman utopia.

Guy Dixon: is happy to play with corporate brands and logos. It’s like an art intervention – or in this case a corporate bombardment, taking over the cinema – joked Hot Docs director of programming Sean Farnel at the announcement of this year’s lineup on Tuesday. The point of Spurlock’s tongue-in-cheek documentary is to show how omnipresent corporate interests and branding are in all forms of entertainment. The film revolves around Spurlock trying to get corporate sponsors to fund the film itself. Read More:

Fifteen brands including JetBlue, Hyatt and Ted Baker together, contributed a total of $1.5m to sponsor and place products in the film. POM Wonderful,  paid $1m for  naming rights.Its still product placement as a form of branded entertainment; an extension of what is already being dumped on the public by the entertainment complex: advertising for the military, racism, and consumerism which is already “branded” entertainment. The only value is as fodder for political remix videos which seems the only avenue to “engage the r

#8221; in the face of this assault and create original content  that exposes the fraud.

---n an interesting piece in the Hollywood Reporter, Spurlock talks about his new model for making a profit on his indie film before it is even released. The film also goes into the increasingly extensive practice of product placement in movies and television, which now starts at the writer level. Witness the various episodes of 30 ROCK that make fun of their sponsor Snapple while also promoting the brand. Anyway, it's all food for though as indies try and figure out a way to make a buck in the New Media world. ---Read More:

As Spurlock says in an interview with CBS News: “There’s a window of opportunity for small filmmakers to get a big brand to give them money. If one of their characters needs to drive a pick-up truck … hey, why not a Toyota?” Does this read as an assault on product placement? I don’t think so. Rather than being an outright condemnation of advertising, Spurlock says the intention behind the documentary is to increase transparency. “I also wanted,” he states, “to maintain a healthy respect for all of the sponsors and what their goals are.” Again, not quite an attack on product placement, especially as most of the sponsors involved are now milking the publicity….So is Spurlock, the indie-documentary darling, selling out? When asked this in the CBS interview, he cryptically replies that as long as you’re doing “better than they do, you’re not selling out, you’re buying in … I’m just buying into the idea of studio film-making.” Fast Company considers Spurlock’s caginess an invitation for “viewers to debate whether consumers can trust his movie – or any of the content they receive”. What do you think? Is buying in just super-selling out?… Read More:
Menachem Feuer:But these fatal blows to the greatness of criticism do not spell its absolute end; Benjamin tells us that criticism must change and the model for this change is the advertisement or, simply, anything that creates a “perceived contact with things.” Like advertising, criticism must touch and fascinate readers: because they are touched by it, blown away by it, or simply “warmed by the subject,” people desire it. In a more theoretical sense, Benjamin tells us that criticism, like advertising, should affect the reader with visceral projections of “fragmented” intensity which circumvent any form of contemplation. This intensity, something like a “burst of energy,” affects the very life of the subject….

Harold Bloom, in his book, Agon , identifies this burst of energy with the sublime, but associates it with a more mystical image, “an invisible breath or emanation.” It hits on something hidden, one might even say repressed, and, in doing so, releases a charge of energy. However, for Bloom, the energy that comes out of this marks a fear central to the destruction of that repression — the “invisible breath” is “a breeze that precedes the start of a nervous breakdown or disorder”. Likewise, the advertisement exposes the reader to what Bloom calls the aura of fragmentation that hits him/her, as the car that “careens at us out of a film screen,” and, in effect, “leaves them thinking” about what hit them (post-facto) — like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). Bloom argues that this is what the “aura” does; but in doing so, it looks back at us as if to say that there is something in what we see that involves who we are.Read More:

This entry was posted in Cinema/Visual/Audio, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media, Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>