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Impact on the Pop World

I avoid TV, but in some of the public places I go, there are the instruments on, and I hear things, even if I am not looking at the screen.

The other day, while getting some takeout for lunch, I heard a commercial.
I recognized the company name from work.
I heard "Studies have shown that..."
I recognized the item that the study had shown. I could, gods help me, tell you the questions that the conclusion was drawn from, and what the possible answers are.

I have worked that survey. That's me, and my work, that helped gather the raw data to show that whatever. That commercial, that 15 or 30 second blip in your life, has five to ninety people working four to eight hours a day seven days a week, 360 or so days a year, and that selfsame project has been running at least four years. More than $1,612,800 has gone into that project, at the bare minimum.

Pop culture is fueled by this shit. For each one of those commercials on the tube, there's probably a similar amount of work going on for most of them, a long-running ad campaign by a corporate giant, with the feedback loop of intrusive phone and mall surveyors, taking five to forty-five minutes out of your life to see if you recognize a burger jingle or a soda slogan, and whether or not the ethnic balance in the commercial bothers you, and whether or not the thought of the fellow getting ice down his shorts when he dives off the balcony into the water pitcher is refreshing or painful.

Commercialism is eating its own tail. The dregs of society, the sort of people who can't find and hold any other sort of job, or are between jobs, or are too young for serious jobs, or are too old for everything else, or who are too incomprehensible to a bland first-language speaker of English, too antisocial, too ratty, too crazy, too obnoxious, are paid upwards of eight dollars an hour to sit talking with people for hours on end to make sure the indoctrination of the society is successful, and to figure out what will work to sink the hooks in deeper. And then we turn around and pay the money into what the advertisements say that we need, because we won't be happy or healthy or whole until we have it, feeding the corporations who pay us to help figure out what they're going to tell us to want next.




I can use the soda commercial as an example without violating my employer's confidentiality agreement, because I was on the other end of the market research stick at the time, accosted by one of the mall ladies and shuffled off to a back room to watch commercials and fill out baffling questionnaires designed to elicit an opinion from me even if I was determined not to give one.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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