Michael Jackson: Enough already

Thanks to Doc Searls for pointing to this excellent blast Enough with the Michael Jackson Crap.

I don’t care if the audience eats this shit up. They’d eat up public hangings and cats being thrown out of skyscraper windows. We have to be above their basest desires … that’s why we pass up on the better-paying gigs at the National Enquirer. Well isn’t it?

News should be what affects the most people. Celebs have no impact on my life or the lives of anybody but their friends, families and co-workers. If Michael Jackson’s arrest hurts record sales it’s a business story. If it boosts TV ratings, it’s a TV page story. If he molests little boys, it’s a crime story. Whatever kind of story it is, it’s not Page One News:

I sometimes watch Fox News on Satellite in appalled fascination at its version of reality. I can’t believe the blanket coverage it is giving to this story. So much TV news has slumped to real lowest-common-denominator pap. BBC news has become increasingly trivial in presentation if not yet in content. My pet beef there is the ridiculous fixation with sticking reporters LIVE in the pouring rain at dead of night outside empty buildings like 10 Downing Street to make their content seem more important. Utterly insulting to audience intelligence.

This is the curse of BAD marketing, not challenging the customer but placating them. It’s the soma of Brave New World, delivered to people they treat like Epsilon Minus Semi Morons.

6 thoughts on “Michael Jackson: Enough already

  1. mrG

    Ah, but you see? Let’s tell the truth here now: How do you know they stick reporters live in front of empty buildings unless you watch it and that, my friend, is, like it or not, good marketing in action. We don’t have to like it, but you have here confessed that it has drawn even your attention — you can’t look away.

    And that says something. I think it says something about the amygdala, about the human limbic system, about how we are, if we dare admit it to ourselves, far more animal than any kind of abstract godly intellect detached from the DARPP-32 and the way that one small protein can wrench our whole reality by only the tweaking plus or minus of a little molecular doping.

    There’s no need to run from this, this is our reality. It’s not about intellect or taste, it is about the creatures we are. Fox only illuminates that reality and you can look or you can look away.

    But you will look.

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Interesting comment Gary, and provocative.

    But it’s not good marketing because good marketing is not simply about getting my attention. It’s about engaging me in a relationship where some value is created. No great value is created by crass TV news; I watch it sure, but I am much more interested in what I get online from multiple sources. So I’ll look at Fox, but that’s about it.

  3. mrG

    I read your subsequent post with some cheers, but I still have to stick to my guns here: Saying that marketing should be about a better kind of relationship doesn’t make it so, and for Fox, the object is to “deliver eyeballs”, nothing more nothing less. If they deliver your eyeballs to Scott’s Tissues, they have succeeded, and those rating numbers and mindshare figures showing all those eyeballs and bums in seats sitting there during the Scotties’ commercials, that works for them, it helps them go to Scott’s and maintain their relationship.

    When you talk mainstream media, be sure you understand who the stakeholders are. The public are not the stakeholders in broadcast media, they are the raw material. They are the hydrocycle who rain down news and entertainment at the top and then absorb it at the bottom. The objective in broadcasting is to coax that rain to fall through their network so they can sell airtime to sponsors.

    Marketing as your seminar defined also it doesn’t apply to the relationship between sponsors and the public as mediated by the commercials; commercials have the dual purpose of acting as a lure trolling for customers, but also also must count the broadcast station as a stakeholder. If the commercial doesn’t glue bums in seats thereby retaining the eyeballs, the broadcaster loses and the advertiser loses too.

    Fox news is that comforting light dangled before the deadly deep-see fish in Finding Nemo, only in broadcast media, a third party (marketing) designs the light. Broadcast is a symbiosis of advertiser and broadcaster, in consort to extract wealth from the hydrocycle of news/drama producers and consumers. One attracts the rube, the other digests the catch, feeding both creatures.

    And their relationship creates value. Big value. Astronomical value.

    Back to Fox news: maybe it isn’t marketing, but when you redefine terms, you leave a gap where the term once did dual service. If Marketing is now the process leading broadcaster and advertiser into a relationship, we need a new name for the twig-crack psycho-perceptual manipulations of the artifacts of that relationship that lure the eyeballs. This covers the babes and hunks in the subway posters, the dripping melted fat in the hamburger ads, the use of colour and contrast, flag waving and lottos, set and setting, Jacko and JFK, all those means by which this thing you call crass is able to attract and hold your attention, night after night, inducing even voluntary return.

    If that is not ‘marketing’, then we need a new word.

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Gary, great post, thanks for sticking to your guns it makes for a more interesting life. Yes, absolutely, if we redefine terms we need to put something in place of the old meaning. In this context, manipulation would work for me!

    I guess I am sticking my social conscience on my sleeve and defining marketing to exclude more instrumental applications of the kind you highlight; a lot of marketing people wouldn’t agree. There’s no doubting Fox News’ commercial success. Maybe it does work. Perhaps I should just come out and say, I just don’t like it! And I hope for something better from the BBC which doesn’t have the commerical imperative to excuse its “playing to the crowd”.

  5. mrG

    I hear you 100%, but I’m drawn to at least acknowledge the pragmatic approach: In website design and information architecture, we have all sorts of usability tests and eye-scan tests and heaps of human factors reports that we use to try and sway designers to consider a finer aesthetic of design, and yet, when push comes to shove, it’s the spinning flaming guitars that dot the money-making sites.

    I suppose it all comes back to those words Henry Ford confided to Buckminster Fuller: “You can make money, or you can make sense. The two are mutually exclusive.

  6. tonygoodson

    Paedophilic Chic

    IHT: Frank Rich: ‘Celebrity justice,’ American style Perhaps pedophilic chic is growing because in a porn-saturated nation, it’s the one taboo left (and barely at that). Perhaps it’s because of American culture’s ever-increasing panic about growing old…


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