It’s Official! – Aggressive Marketing is the New Consumer Power

Brand GaGa is in the news again, this time for the new album which is destined to set new records for being the most aggressively and ruthlessly marketed album of all time. This aggressive marketing campaign includes:

  • appearing on numerous magazine covers, from Rolling Stone to Vogue
  • appearing on every high profile show known to mankind, from Oprah Winfrey to ‘American Idol’ to ‘Saturday Night Live’, as well as her own HBO concert special.
  • Starbucks selling her album as well as launching a ‘digital scavenger hunt’ for Gaga-inspired goods
  • Google Chrome airing a commercial with Gaga with a track from the album (see video below)
  • the online fashion outlet Gilt Groupe partnering with Gaga to offer Gaga-inspired clothing and VIP performances
  • Best Buy is giving away the album to anyone who purchases a mobile phone with a contract
  • Zynga, creator of the popular online game ‘FarmVille’, creating ‘GagaVille’ which allows fans access to exclusive Gaga songs
  • Amazon selling ‘Born This Way’ for just 99 cents as a promotion for their new music cloud service (creating a demand so strong it disrupted the online retailing giant’s servers for a time)
  • Disney Mobile Tapulous game ‘Tap Tap Revenge’ giving fans access to the entire album and other content if they buy the game,’Born This Way Revenge’, for $4.99. It’s the first time Tapulous has put out 17 tracks with a game for that price

The seamless integration, and now full on merging, of pop music with big business is fast becoming the new model for both which will presumably result in them eventually become one and the same. And as you can see from this advert, apparently we’re all absolutely lovin’ it.

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In addition, the corporate mass media is also telling us that such synergy can only be a good thing. But of course they would say that. They are just as much a part of the whole arts-merges-with-big-business agenda as anyone else. In fact the whole process heavily relies on a mainstream media willing to promote such a corporate culture ie based on marketing (money) rather than art. The mass media is, after all, owned and controlled by about six corporations in the US. And by generally supporting and hyping a select few ‘industry chosen’ acts like GaGa, as well as downplaying the importance of other (perhaps far more talented, original and interesting) artists, they can ensure that brands like GaGa appear to be the hottest thing around by miles… which if course (after appearing on every TV show and on the front cover of everything) they inevitably become.

These hyped acts’ enormous fame and artificially generated celebrity status then becomes their most interesting feature for most people. Their celebrity status (ie our irrational obsession with them) actually generates far more interest than their music or personality alone is capable of generating. (EXAMPLE: if I pay fifty people to crowd around me in a public space pointing at me with mouths open and taking pictures with their phones then that will immediately attract another hundred or more people to start swarming around me. I won’t have to actually do anything).

As a reward for helping the music industry build up its narrow range of pop products the mainstream media (and its advertisers) end up with a bunch of manufactured A-list celebs guaranteed to attract viewers, shift magazines or generate web hits.

But this is about more than just aggressive marketing. We are seeing popular culture being redefined as no more than a tool of corporate advertising. This would be fine if it were being done more honestly, but of course it isn’t. Instead the illusion is maintained that the music and the ‘artist’ are both still authentic even though in reality they are acting as little more than advertising jingles and paid sales reps. This illusion is important to maintain amongst the herd because the whole point is to transfer that illusion of authenticity and ‘cool’ to the product or service being advertised.

The most unfortunate aspect of all of this becomes apparent when you ask the question: how is a kid who has been brought up on a diet of this kind of grotesque manipulative inauthentic culture going to care for anything any more real and authentic?

They won’t know any different. Look at kids today – a lot of them really don’t. (But thankfully some do).

The end result is a youth culture made up of a bunch of totally inauthentic entertainment acts which are all totally corporate friendly and corporate loyal, but promoted to the masses by the music industry and the corporate mass media (and by the acts themselves of course) as if they were the most authentic artists out there.

A lot of people get hung up on swearing, guns, half naked dancers etc in pop music. But that’s kind of missing the point – the more important point being that the whole thing is totally inauthentic. It is contrived. It is created by the most cynical people on this planet and then packaged and sold to the pubic – including children – as if it were the most authentic thing, as if it were real, as if it were all part of some natural artistic/ musical / creative process.

That’s got to be the most damaging thing imaginable, not just to the individual but to society. It means everything that comes out of popular culture (identity, behaviour, relationships, fashion, language, fads, trends etc) has its roots in a contrived cesspit of inauthenticity. It’s a total mind-phuck for anyone brought up on it who can’t seeing it for what it is. It’s pure Truman Show in musical form.

Thankfully you don’t have to dig too deep or think too hard to get past the whole glossy illusion. For all their ‘outrageousness’ most of the acts that are promoted today (the ones given all the media exposure and all the industry awards) are already totally corporate friendly. They all promote consumerism, materialistic drives and owning branded ‘stuff’ (cars, clothes etc) as the only route to identity, free expression and self worth. None of them promote any kind of unique message, philosophy, or even the act of critical thinking at all! And NONE of them ever mention, let alone question, let alone challenge the status quo of the current corporate / establishment ideologies, the current wars, politics, laws, rights, freedoms, causes or indeed anything. Not in any way. All they do is  promote consumerism. AKA corporatism. That’s it.

Their job (with or without any additional in-your-face marketing partnerships) is to make consumerism/ corporatism ‘cool’ and turn worshipping the culture of consumerism/ corporatism into the new godless religion for the dumbed down masses.

There was a time, not that long ago, when if the corporate mass media or some faceless coffee franchise said an artist was cool it meant they were actually very uncool. But now more than ever we let them tell us what music to like, and consume.

There was a time when letting corporations use your music to sell totally unrelated stuff was a big no no – that is if you wanted to retain any credibility whatsoever. But now apparently it’s all perfectly acceptable and even something to be celebrated without even questioning.

There was a time when a cool artist ‘selling out’ spelled the end of a career in music, at least one where you are regarded as a credible artist. But now selling out is regarded as the thing which defines the beginning of a career.  Selling out is what you have to do today in order to become what’s known today as an ‘artist’. Today we call ‘selling out’ being a ‘fame monster’ and with this subtle rebranding we now regard such behaviour as the height of cool.

There was a time when manufactured bands were frowned upon and ridiculed and putting together manufactured ‘boy/ girl bands’ was something which the industry did in secret. But now they make TV shows about it and we all clap and cheer as the would be sell outs (fame monsters) are harshly assessed for their potential commercial value by ruthless music industry millionaire talent scouts (now professionally packaged as celebs in their own right) before being either rejected or chosen and immediately put through a ‘boot camp’ so that their image and public persona can be expertly altered and made ‘acceptable’ according to the industry regulated standards on cultural homogenization.

It is interesting to note that the merging of the state with private corporations into one giant ruthless machine-like apparatus is one of the core definitions of fascism.

What then are we to call the merging of the arts with private corporations into one giant ruthless machine-like apparatus?

We are to call it ‘entertainment’ of course! – Yes Sir!

No but seriously, those are the rules. We must call it entertainment and we must enjoy it, consume it and in doing so embody its cultural and social messages.

Look, don’t listen to me. Listen to Amy Palmer, senior editor with ‘In Touch Weekly’ as she talks about how this whole corporate advertising carpet GaGa bombing ‘shock and awe’ campaign is clear evidence that these days – like obviously – the consumer has the power”.

Wrap your little monster minds around her stunning take on reality during MSNBC’s Today program in one of those cosy little TV moments best described as:

‘… just you sit back and relax and let us do all the thinking about this subject on your behalf, and in the style of a completely natural and friendly conversation full of ideas and assertions that sound completely reasonable, provided you’re not paying too much attention or thinking too hard which, of course, you won’t be because you’re watching television …’

Or Watch it here

Transcription provided, for your line by line analytical pleasure:

Alex Witt: A new AP article says Lady GaGa’s landmark blitz from her new album ‘Born This way’ could change the face of music. Let’s get the details with Amy Palmer, senior editor with ‘In Touch Weekly’. Good morning.

Amy Palmer (senior editor with ‘In Touch Weekly’): Good morning Alex.

AW: I can never take my eyes off Lady GaGa when she’s anywhere – She’s riveting…

AP: She’s fascinating, so fascinating

AW: She is.

AP: She is so herself and I think that’s the beauty of GaGa and she really has this amazing message. But in terms of changing the music industry, what she’s doing is she’s going to the consumer. The music industry is no longer linear. It used to be, you had an album, you went to radio, you tried to get radio to play it and they decided ‘OK this is a hit’. Now the consumer has the power. So what Lady GaGa is doing with her team is they’re going to Starbucks. They’re playing the album in Starbucks. They’re going to Amazon. Amazon is offering the album for 99 cents. Google Chrome – I don’t know if you’ve seen this commercial – she’s now the face of Google Chrome. And it’s an amazing commercial because it has Lady GaGa’s new song merged with the Google Chrome emblum and it really shows that these brands are coming together. And I think it’s really touching consumers in a way that’s bringing awareness to Google Chrome and also GaGa’s album.

AW: You know what – you talk about the authenticity of GaGa and last night I happened to be channel surfing and I saw a one hour documentary that was recently done because she had the black and white hair and the black mole – it’s one of her recent looks – and it was talking about Lady GaGa on the outside …. inside on the outside….

AP: It’s an MTV special…

AW: Exactly! And she is so real there. But I thought for a moment ‘Uh Oh!’ we’re going to get a little bit of over exposure and yet for some reason I don’t instinctively think that’s going to be a problem for her.

AP: It’s not because she’s really authentic. I mean she’s a breath of fresh air and you know in the past with music we’ve seen so much autotunes – auto syncing with these artists. Are they really singing? Are they really talented? With GaGa you know she has an amazing voice and she’s so unique and if you follow her story – I mean she’s just a girl from New York City who had a dream.

Aw: Yonkers!

AP: She’s twenty five years old and she’s brilliant because she ‘gets it’. And that’s why she uses social media to reach her fans. That’s why she’s using these companies in a way that’s different than has ever been done before – I mean Starbucks, the gilt groupe which is an online fashion destination, they had a ‘GaGa day’ where everything was inspired by her. She’s understanding where the consumers are at and then her album is being promoted that way and she’s on track to sell over a million albums in the first week and in this climate and in this industry right now that’s really unheard of.

AW: And you know all the promotion and publicity in the world would not matter were she not talented and were she not putting out a good product. She might have a flash in the pan thing, but this album is good.

AP: It’s a great album. Every single that you hear you say ‘this is a hit’, ‘this is a hit’. And companies are using these songs to showcase their own products and what that’s saying is ‘we believe in Gaga. We believe in this message’. And so it really elevates both of them. You know because there is this synergy between them and  I think that that is the new way for music. If you talk to music industry insiders they’ve been saying for the past few years ‘we have lost a third of our value since 2003. How are we going to make up for it?’ And I think this is it. It’s the merging of companies with art.

AW: Yeah. Well I don’t think it will work for everyone but it sure does work for GaGa.

AP: Sure it will I mean she is really….

AW: – Limitless ..

AP: I mean for the rest of our lives we’re going to be watching GaGa – like we watched Madonna.

AW: Yeah. Very true. I absolutely agree with you. Amy Palmer, make it a great weekend. Have fun.

AP: You too Alex…

And so there you have it.

If you were thinking that the problem with popular music was something to do with it being more commercialized than ever before, and as a result being more formulaic and homogenized than ever before, with plummeting sales reflecting this fact and necessitating the increasing use of aggressive marketing, gimmicks, shock factor and manufactured hype to generate interest, which in turn only creates a further downward spiral of dumbing down, devaluing and ultimately the decoupling of the ‘music’ part from pop music …… leaving just ‘pop’ (hype, fashion, marketing, advertising, gossip, celebrity) – then you are obviously quite mistaken.

The mainstream media ‘truth’ of the situation is actually the complete opposite – that music today is AMAZING and all those people who complain about music all sounding the same now and being totally rubbish are wrong. And those plummeting sales figures have nothing to do with the stifling and homogenizing effects of a music industry which cares only for quick profits and doesn’t even care remotely about actual music any more. It is all just down to a lack of proper marketing and strategic product partnerships!

And all those people who think now might be a good time for both artists and music lovers (AKA consumers) to distance themselves from the more corporate side of the industry in order to save music are in fact misguided. So what if we all have the internet now? Quite clearly the best thing for popular music (and youth culture in general) is for popular music to actually get even more involved with profit orientated corporations and mass media in order to form more symbiotic relationships of mutual benefit……  using the word ‘mutual’ here to mean you’re all hopeless, dumbed down, consumer slave, celebrity enchanted idiots, of course.

Look, just forget about music as having anything to do with ‘creative artistry’ OK? Marketing, branding and advertising are the new creative arts! Oooh La La!

Cynical corporate advertising/ branding / marketing defines the new vibrant youth culture. And you will love it because we will advertise the fact that you love it – and you will believe that you do. GaGa!

Mass media / multi media advertising and marketing with an almost totally monopolized media and entertainment industry is the new consumer  power. And no one in these heavily monopolized and integrated industries is ever going to contradict this statement. Ra Ra Ah Ah Ah!

War is the new peace.

Freedom is the new slavery.

Conformity is the new uniqueness.

Selling out is the new rebellion.

Consume.

Little monsters.

Consume.

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11 Responses to It’s Official! – Aggressive Marketing is the New Consumer Power

  1. karenzach says:

    Great analysis of a terribly troubling trend. And this ladies and gentlemen is how you herd the masses…

  2. MacTingz says:

    Great post. It’s actually nice to finally find a blog that agrees with my stance regarding Gaga’s supposed occult agenda. The shock marketing strategies used by Gaga’s producers, PR and media outlets are just that, marketing strategies. She is in no way connected to Satan or the occult.

    Although I find the evidence, and the very notion that Gaga or anyone else connected to mainstream chart music both highly amusing and incredibly fascinating. I simply can’t believe it. I’m unable to accept that Gaga is intentionally trying to sow the seeds of evil through symbolism and Satanic messages. And even if she is, even if it’s working, what effect is she having?

    I think it’s more likely that she, and every other pop star is a product of a media which manipulates their image in order to extract maximum coverage and finance from their situation. If that means ‘promoting Satan’ then that’s what they’ll do. It clearly works. There’s thousands of blogs on the internet that allege Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanne et al are all witches, employed by the Illuminati.

    I’ve wrote a piece for my own blog regarding the presence of Satan within musical forms. It covers both visual symbolism and the musical techniques which could be used to suggest the occult. I’d love someone with a reasonable grasp on the subject to share their opinions.

    Mac.

    • russell5087 says:

      This is just an idea, take it for what it’s worth. I have always been fascinated by the occult and conspiracy theories, and enjoy thinking about such things, in the same way as I enjoy good fiction. I am very careful not to become a “true believer” in anything! However, I think it is curious that any area, be it UFO’s, Satanism, or Conspiracy, have been relegated to the lunatic fringe. You can’t have an intelligent discussion about these subjects any longer. If you show any tendency to even slightly believe in any of it, you are a nut case, and people will tune you out right away. Granted there are some really stupid, embarrassingly stupid crap on the internet on each of these topics, but that’s the point. The crazies are given all the exposure they desire. This would be an excellent way to silence any serious inquiry into these subjects. You are a subject of ridicule before you even begin. The two subjects which the popular media have closed the door on, seemingly for good, are the Pres. Kennedy assassination, and the Roswell crash. Oswald did it, you are a nut if you think otherwise, and the Roswell crash was a balloon, you are a nut if you think otherwise. You can no longer address those subjects intelligently, at least in the mainstream media. I am not necessarily endorsing the conspiracy theories associated with these subjects, I am just indicating that there does seem to be something that is being hidden from us. All of the far-fetched stuff that you read could be serving as a smoke screen, so that you are discouraged from investigating, because you don’t want to be stigmatized. Or, if you do go ahead and investigate anyway, the mainstream media won’t touch you with a ten foot pole, and you will have a difficult time being taken seriously, except by the nut cases, who will believe anything. I definitely believe that there are governmental activities which are kept secret from us, and that Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the past, without their knowledge. From that point, we enter into speculation, in which it is all too easy to get carried away, But consider this, I’m not sure about it’s “truthiness” as Colbert would say, but I can see how corporate interests and the government would have a vested interest in keeping the young people of America addicted in one form or another, or, at least, deeply distracted from seeing what is really going on around them. If young people were to become aware of some of the bullshit that goes on, they might rise up against the corporate govt regime. Corporate and govt. leaders remember the yippies, the Weathermen, and the Black Panthers all too well. They want the young of today to love their Obama and not inquire too closely into what their corporations and govt is doing. Ok, I’m starting to sound like the nut cases now, aren’t I? Like I said, it’s a thought, take it for what it is worth.

  3. DP says:

    Business is business. If you were in the business of selling cookies, wouldn’t you want to make the best cookie possible and sell it at as many stores that can? Now, think of it this way. What if your cookies were actually fantastic and people really enjoyed those cookies? Wouldn’t you want to sell some of them on the cheap end so as to get more exposure and thus more cookie sales?

    Lady Gaga is a business and she’s running it like a well oiled machine. She’s making songs that are enjoyed by many people. I would never buy a Lady Gaga album, but that’s just because It’s not my cup o tea, however, when her songs come on on the radio or in the club – I understand why she is so popular. They are catchy, edgy, and well composed for the most part. Keep in mind she’s also a very talented artist (unlike Britney and them). She writes and composes her own songs.

    I’m in the finance world, and at the end of the day, even though I’m servicing rich folks and trying to make money for them – I’m making money for me. Lady Gaga, you (and whatever it is that you do), and everyone else is trying to make it. Luckily for her, she hit the jackpot of super stardom. Is she milking it? You betcha she is. Could it be morally questionable at times? You betcha. Is it her responsibility for those that consume it? No, absolutely not. I will not put the burden of parenting on a musician. That would be OUR job.

    Point in fact. When I was in 5th grade I asked my mother to purchase for me a Wu-Tang CD for Christmas. Familiar with them? They glorify death, drugs, gangs, foul language, promiscuity, and more things 100x worse than Lady Gaga. Google them if you don’t believe me. What did my mom do? She purchased it, sat down with me and said, “David, this album has very bad words and songs about terrible things. I’m buying it for you because you enjoy it, but I want you to be aware and realize this is just MUSIC and that’s that. Do you understand?” Yes, mom. Thanks. THIS is what I think should be happening more often than not. Blaming GAGA or Rihanna ain’t going to solve a thing because they are out there with their AMERICAN, GOD GIVEN gifts of making MONEY and a LIVING.

    • Yes I understand, and in many respects agree with your points. HOWEVER, I think your arguments are a bit on the theoretical side and have little, if any, bearing on the real world today.

      OK so we all have ‘free choice’ as to what we buy (and buy into). Except of course in practice most people don’t.

      The music industry and mass media is now controlled by just a handful of corporations. Working together, they promote just a handful of acts which represent just a tiny (and very specific) slither of the artistic, cultural, creative potential in music today. Anything that does not fully conform to and promote corporate ideology (never mind actually questioning it or challenging it) does not get promoted. Why would it? Every single message conveyed by these heavily promoted mainstream acts is a celebration of consumerism/ corporatism.

      This means that the average ‘music consumer’ today (ie someone who is heavily reliant on / influenced by advertising and the media to find out what is ‘out there’ musically) will encounter just a select few corporate friendly acts that have either been manufactured by the industry itself (such as Briteny Spears who was ‘trained’ from a young age by Disney, along with fellow cute-at-first-and-then-made-into-a-whore performers like Christina Aguilera) or else marginally more authentic acts like GaGa who just happen to perfectly suit the cultural and social messages and ‘vibe’ which the music industry wants to promote at this time.

      For the consumer this might represent ‘free choice’ of sorts, but only in the most shallow and simplistic sense. It is comparable to the ‘free choice’ when walking down a street past MacDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, Starbucks, Pizza Hut etc looking for a decent place to eat.

      The blindingly obvious result of all this is that mainstream music (and all mass entertainments for that matter) are becoming more and more homogenized and are conforming to a very specific set of themes and trends; trends which help to further promote corporatism for a start, and which indoctrinate the audience with certain ideas, values, beliefs, messages and symbols often at a semi- conscious level using sophisticated psychological techniques usually associated with modern advertising.

      Some of these themes are quite obvious (sexualization, militaristic celebration, hierarchy reinforcement (ego, status, master / slave relationship etc), objectification of women, dehumanization etc) and some of them are less obvious (such as references to MK Ultra, Project Monarch trauma based mind control, satanism, transhumanism, secret societies etc).

      Check out my ‘gallery’ section above for some quick examples of some of these themes and trends,

      None of this should be a surprise seeing as how mass entertainments have always been used throughout history to ‘indoctrinate’ the masses and steer society in certain directions.

      You seem to think I am trying to ‘blame’ Rihanna or GaGa … Not at all! And I didn’t mean to come across that way. I am just trying to make sense of them…. and more importantly make sense of their employers and of this culture in general which is of course dominated by mass media and new information technology.

      The mass media and entertainment industries will NEVER make any decent documentaries about how they really work and how much they influence our lives. And they never have. Why would they? (their advertisers wouldn’t have it for a start!). So we will never understand – unless of course we think about it for ourselves….. something which a lot of people will probably never devote even five minutes to doing in their entire lives :(

      I am definitely NOT coming at this from a moralistic or pro censorship based perspective AT ALL! (I know many people are). All I’m doing is trying to understand and make sense of these kinds of processes.

      In fact I am taking the opposite stance from control and censorship. I am saying our music and culture is ALREADY being censored by virtue of the monopolization and collaboration happening within the entertainment and media industries, who *at the very least* care as little about art and culture as fast food chains care about nutrition and the health of the nation.

      I am with you on the whole ‘free market thing’. But a free market is just an idea, a phrase. To have a free market in the real world people need to be able to think freely (with access to decent information) or else they can’t choose freely. If you don’t even have a clue what is actually going on in the real world how can you choose freely?

      From the perspective of a consumer (of anything) today, a free market does not simply ‘exist’ … you have to create one for yourself!

      I don’t pretend to know exactly what is going on – but I am at least attempting to figure out as much as I can.

      If, in the 21st century, we can’t even watch a music video and identify and separate

      – a catchy tune
      – a sexy singer
      – entertainment
      – militaristic (or whatever) propaganda
      – aggressive marketing from a controlled industry
      – indoctrination of impressionable youth
      – fun outfits
      – secret society or occult symbolism
      – etc etc

      … and see all these components for what they are, then what hope for humanity?

      (Switching to movies for a moment) did you know that the Pentagon has a department devoted to rewriting Hollywood movie scripts in return for free hire of tanks and planes etc? Movies like ‘Top Gun’ were essentially scripted by the Pentagon (still suffering at the time from a post vietnam recruitment lull). When it was screened in the 80’s they even put recruitment booths in the cinema foyers and it worked like a charm.

      Fast forward to 2003 and 77% of US troops going to invade Iraq thought they were going because Saddam had been responsible for 9/11 and they were going there to defeat him and his Al Qaeda organization.

      Such a monumental amount of confusion associated with such a serious act as war (still going on to this day BTW with over a million dead) can only be blamed on a controlled news media as well as generations upon generations of cultural propaganda promoting the ‘military solution’ as being noble, necessary, heroic, sexy, kick some ass, get the girl etc.

      As many returning vets have discovered (those that made it out alive) war (and geopolitics) is nothing at all like Hollywood movies.

      To imagine that those who publicly admit to controlling Hollywood in this way have never even considered controlling (at least manipulating) popular music as well is a little naive – don’t you think? Especially when popular music is so full of crotch grabbing, gun toting and military saluting – and that’s just the women! And especially when so many media and entertainment moguls are all members of the CFR.

      You say Lady GaGa is ‘just a business’ …. but what’s far more relevant is that she is also an *employee* of a much larger enterprise. She is only different from acts like Spears in that she seems to fully and willingly embrace the whole ‘let’s sell out to the music industry in return for endless promotion and therefore celebrity’ thing. Spears was forced into it. And she kept trying to escape.

      GaGa has embraced being an industry sell out and even rebranded it as being a ‘fame monster’. In fact I suspect she doesn’t really care about money that much – just fame. She has turned being a sell out into a form of ‘rebellion’ a fashion statement and practically a new art form.

      Now I wonder why the industry loves her so much? Can you figure it out yet?

      I also thing you (and most people) are confused about what is ‘shocking’ or a ‘bad influence’ in pop videos. The most destructive thing in music is not all the guns, violence, sex, swearing etc. It is mixing all that up with other messages and ideas in a totally *inauthentic* way that is so pernicious. It is the cognitive dissonance created which is negative.

      That is why (for example) acts like Rihanna are so vile. It is not the themes of satanism, military, possession, trauma based mind control, nazis, death, S+M and so on that are harmful. It is mixing all that up with a saccharine pop puppet performer who clearly has no interest in (and probably no knowledge of) half the things that appear in her videos.

      And so she will act all coy and demure one minute in interviews or in between songs and then start promoting wars or portraying a tortured disassociating ‘nazi’ slave or start masturbating her microphone on stage as if she has a penis. And none of it will has any coherent explanation or context. None of it makes any sense!!!!! It’s not as if she is even remotely avant-guarde or ‘arty’. She is promoted as just a kids entertainer (and wank fodder for the grown ups). She switched on the Christmas lights at London’s Westfield Shopping Centre last year in front of thousands of screaming *children*.

      And so if you are a 12 year old girl being brought up by MTV this totally contrived, nonsensical, twisted entertainment culture is going to be where you get most of your social, moral, philosophical, behavioral cues from. It’s totally ‘schizophrenic’. And no one talks about it. (except in the most simplistic, moralistic, missing-whole-the-point kind of way).

      It’s NOT the content itself …. it is the contradictions, the cognitive dissonance, the meta communication which is so destructive. It’s like having parents who buy you dolls and colouring in books but put crotchless underwear and gimp masks in your cupboards – and then don’t even say anything about it.

      Imagine growing up and learning about being a girl/ boy and about society, relationships and about life in general from a totally inauthentic, manufactured, fake, twisted pop culture which has been totally hijacked by corporations who (just like some sadistic and insane parents) want to train you to be just as insane, unbalanced and f*cked up as they are. That’s kind of where I see it all heading.

      Kids today have never been so stressed out and ‘mentally put upon’ (I don’t want to say ‘mental health problems’ because I think they are actually coping pretty well considering the kind of insane world they have been born into!) The way I see it so much of the stress of modern culture is due to its total inauthenticity. Authenticity is becoming increasingly hard to find – and for many people apparently, hard to recognize, and therefore value. Meanwhile the inauthenticity is becoming increasingly sophisticated, high tech and fashionable.

      But it all stops being negative or confusing or harmful the moment we start to understand it. There’s no need to get hysterical and demand censorship once we know what’s going on – just vote with your attention and your wallet.

      We just need to develop some taste, stop eating out of the bin and drinking out of the toilet bowl and go and find something better……… or carry on – it’s a free country! :)

      • russell5087 says:

        I hope all of this reaches the right audience, otherwise you are only preaching to the choir, as they say. Hopefully, Lady GaGa fans, and Rihanna fans etc. will read your blog. Even if they consciously dismiss it, it might plant a seed of truth which could yet blossom. It has always been the intention of corporations, government, and mass media, to manipulate the hell out of us. It’s just that they are getting better at it. It used to be that everybody could see through it, nobody believed advertising, nobody trusted politicians or religious zealots, and they didn’t necessarily trust the media. People actually thought for themselves. At least that’s how I remember it. I rarely watch television, but when I do I am appalled by the crap I see. I am not a prude at all, I like pornography when it is well done (which is rare), but this is very badly produced pornography. Of course it isn’t explicit, at least that would be honest, but the pornography is in the thing you describe quite well. It is the overall tone, the creepiness of it, obscene in a way that is hard to articulate, which is why cognitive dissonance is a good way to describe it. I am sure there are a lot of things we subconsciously pick up on as we watch, which accounts for much of the feeling. It sort of feels like having your head forced into a toilet and held there, kind of a sadomasochistic feeling. This is sheer speculation, but it seems to me that much of this stuff began as humor, it was a black humorist trend on SNL and elsewhere, where everything was treated as ironic, and there was a nihilistic undercurrent of “nothing really matters, and so what if it does” kind of attitude. I laughed too, but that undertone made me uneasy. Since then, that undertone has mushroomed into something more revolting. I think I noticed it because I stopped having any interest in television after Twin Peaks was canceled. So maybe we should all blame it on David Lynch, thanks to him we have all been dragged into the Black Lodge. You will recall that the series ended with Agent Cooper being possessed by Bob, and lost forever inside the Black Lodge. I hated that ending with a passion and almost regarded it as a deliberate act of black magick. But today i am much more mature, ahem! In any case, I agree with a lot of what you have said, although I try not to get too caught up in the symbolism in rock videos etc. because I don’t want to fall into what Robert Anton Wilson called Chapel Perilous, the place where all occult investigators end up if they persist for too long, in which everything is connected to everything else and invested with occult meaning, and if only you just figure it out then….and pretty soon you’re drooling out of the side of your mouth, and pooping your pants. Come to think of it, Chapel Perilous sounds a lot like the Black Lodge. On a parting note, the cognitive dissonance you describe, the fact that it “doesn’t mean anything!”, is also an example of Chaos Magick. Chaos magicians deliberately produce meaningless combinations of occult symbols and mundane material to totally confuse and confound, while the actual magical operation takes place unnoticed. I read the Rolling Stone article on Lady Gaga and was left with that cognitive dissonance of what the hell is she all about, it makes no sense to me. Chaos magick indeed. But who knows? Certainly not me. Thanks for your insightful commentary!

  4. brian;] says:

    This is confusing me. Actually its going over my head a little bit. I knew lady gaga is manufactored and she did say Im not f***ing manufactored(Still dont beleive her). But could you describe to me in the simple way. If you dont mind. When you said britney want to escape. I was watching something and a guy (interview) said to her what did you sarcifice your life when you be came famous, she said quite emotional upset “uhh well nothing, Well my private life” She seem quite unhappy because she came famous such a young age. Anyway could you describe in short simple way. :D

  5. russell5087 says:

    Your article should be read by every person that walks into a Starbucks or a McDonald’s. P. T. Barnum said it best, “a sucker is born every minute”, but the sad fact is that this fact is destroying any semblance of a genuine entertainment industry. Thank God for the internet, at least you can post an alternative opinion and post your work on youtube. Lady Gaga wants to be a big success, the biggest of the biggest, bigger than Madonna, bigger than the Beatles, and that overshadows her judgement. Now that she has achieved her icon status, she will soon discover that it is quite hollow. She will find, as Elvis did, that she can put out any kind of crap and her fans will love it, leaving her unmotivated to do anything of quality. Right now, I detect a genuine desire to be an artist, but the need for fame is a huge distraction and her decision to sell out in a big way is a mistake. If there was ever any real artistry to Lady Gaga it will be discarded in favor of the lowest common denominator. Hitler said it best: “Propaganda must be popular and appeal to the least intelligent”. This marriage in hell between corporate interests and so-called artists will backfire however. People will begin avoiding music that is associated with products they hate, and vice versa. By the way, have you ever in your life heard anyone say that they loved any meal they purchased from McDonald’s? “Lovin’ It! is the last thing you would hear. The conversation you quoted about Lady Gaga was nauseating in so many ways, but as an older American I notice the peculiar way that young people speak these days, often using words like “like” when they should be saying “is”, nothing is real, it is only “like” something else, and the use of “absolutely” to give a greater emphasis, as if that could make what they are saying true when it is obviously false. I try to be open to all new music, but have you noticed one thing? Only people in their late forties or older would notice this, but whenever you go into stores or whereever, you almost never hear music that is current, it is almost always music from at least twenty to twenty-five years ago, usually even older, the music of the sixties being particularly popular. I realize this is aimed at baby boomers but still, I think it also reflects the fact that most of today’s music is crap. I agree with Brian Eno that there hasn’t been an original idea in pop music since the late seventies. Back in the sixties when I was a kid, you never heard music from thirty years ago in the stores, that would have been really weird, it was always the current hits. Quite a difference! While I am disturbed by the corporate dominance of popular culture, I don’t think it can sustain itself. More and more, in the coming years, we will all be much more concerned with basic survival than in superficial bullshit.

  6. “….. Lady Gaga wants to be a big success, the biggest of the biggest, bigger than Madonna, bigger than the Beatles, and that overshadows her judgement. Now that she has achieved her icon status, she will soon discover that it is quite hollow…. ”

    Let’s hope so.

    Because I actually get the feeling she isn’t really that interested in anything deeper or more authentic than being a well marketed celebrity. And (for the sake of argument) let’s suppose she’s right. In today’s corporate dominated culture why even bother aspiring to be anything more than a product or brand?

    I mean after all, look at all the those musicians and singers from the 60’s. That whole culture was heavily based on the idea of authenticity. They were not just regarded as mere entertainers but as artists, poets, philosophers, warriors of social/ political change and spiritual transformation….

    … but look what happened. It all became an embarrassing, self indulgent, hypocritical, contradictory mess. At the very least we can say it was ‘non sustainable’.

    What GaGa seems to be doing is embracing the whole ‘beat generation’ philosophy yet without any ambition (or anti ambition) to challenge or change the corporate world or even drop out of it.

    She’s not fighting to free herself from the Matrix or destroy it but instead deciding to ride it and knowingly take full advantage of its superficiality.

    For many this is feels like liberation. For others it looks a lot more like surrender.

    In a way I see GaGa (and this culture we have) as being part of an arc which stretches way back to the 50’s and 60’s when young people first developed a separate and distinct identity and culture and started sharing imaginative and youthful ideas which (naturally) threatened the establishment’s grip on the world.

    In many ways the shifts in youth cultures along the way were are all necessary (and embarrassing) phases we needed to go through as we grew up in this ever more sophisticated information age (which is like a period of adolescence for all of us). But at the same time I think it was always (and still is) being interfered with and subverted from ‘above’.

    If you want to see just how subverted 60’s counter culture was you might want to check out:

    The Strange but Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation

    • russell5087 says:

      I have just a quick comment on the authenticity of the sixties’ artists. I ran across an interview with Frank Zappa a few weeks ago, unfortunately I don’t have the URL, but if you go on youtube I’m sure you can find it. in which he makes many of the same criticisms you make regarding Lady Gaga, about the Jefferson Airplane, and rock music’s culture in general. He felt that the countercultural image that Jefferson Airplane had was phony, and calculated to sell records. Of course, Zappa was critical of just about everybody in the music industry, and cynical regarding any popular artist’s authenticity. But I am certain that if you had told Grace Slick in 1967, or Jim Morrison, that “White Rabbit” or “LIght My Fire” would be used in commercials, forty years in the future, they would have said “You are f++king kidding me!”. They liked to think of themselves as revolutionaries. But, even so, they all liked being rich.

  7. Eric says:

    Quite a good read. It’s true, most people listen to some music because it’s what they think they are supposed to be listening. I live in the Caribbean and here people consider that music that’s not Reggaeton, Dembow of any kind of shitty ‘urban’ music it’s ‘weird’, ‘old’, ‘gay’… it’s just disgusting to hear someone tell me that when I listen to something else instead of the latest ‘urban’ sex-on-record song then I’m not listening to ‘real music’ and that what I listen too is for ‘gays’. My country is fulfilled with the most ignorant and arrogant youth ever.

    I really didn’t care about Gaga’s promotion. I got the album and I love it. It’s not that I like it subliminally on its entirety, there’re songs I don’t like and I think that, despite liking it, it’s a very uneven and long album (some songs were pure fillers and two of the bonus tracks are shit). Also it’s true that most little monsters are hardcore for Gaga, would not demand her better music (if she was actually doing very bad music… when she’s not) and love everything she puts out. In my case I didn’t like Judas as a single, I saw it as an attention seeking move. Especially when the album has many other better songs to be put out as the second single for ‘the album of the decade’.

    Very few people notice this and very few people still have freedom in music instead of just listening that what’s overplayed on the radio. I search for music and I don’t any kind of big promo or popular song get into me if I don’t want to. There have been songs that many people around me like and I don’t. Even though I respect their ‘choices’ in music (because they listen to what other people listen in order to fit in and not be a target of criticism), they do not respect mines and that’s as funny as it gets when they start judging my entire self based on me not liking an annoyingly popular song.

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