Robert Heilbroner reported that “At a business forum, I was once brash enough to say that I thought the main cultural impact of television advertising was to teach children that grown-ups told lies for money. How strong, deep, or sustaining can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?”
The problem, of course, goes even deeper than this. It isn’t just the surfeit of lies, but also the legitmization of an overall attitude that celebrates irrationality and defies grown-upness.
Consider how this recent General Motors Corporation advertisement somehow both dismisses and flips the middle finger to a question that, if we had an ounce of healthy democracy left in this society, would actually be at the center of national debate: How in God’s name can we still be making cars, to say nothing of “luxury” cars?
To extend Heilbroner, how strong, deep, or sustaining can be the values of a civilization that, despite continentally obvious prospects of calamity, simply refuses to face up to the simplest costs of its core, defining technology?
If you look around — I’m not going to do them the dignity of linking anything, you’ll see that Ford is now trying to rescue its long-moribund Lincoln nameplate for supposed “luxury” cars. Take a look. It’s damned funny stuff.
My favorite howler from among great long strings of them: Here’s what Ford’s James D. Farley, Jr., the pitiable head marketer for this new junk-push, told The New York Times yesterday:
The name Lincoln has very strong meaning for this country. What he stood for as president was independence, fortitude and elegant thinking.
Yes, the president who pushed railroads, preserved the nation-state, and said, if he could, he would do so without abolishing slavery was all about cars, “independence,” and guts.
The “elegant thinking” part? Well, that’s just pure comedy gold…
We here at DbC direct your attention to this outrageous piece of exploitation and propaganda, which, of course, premiered during the commercial TV platform known as “the Olympics”:
The main sponsor of this manipulative tripe is Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, aka BMW, which would have you equate people’s efforts to overcome maimings (not mentioned: many/most caused by car crashes) and birth defects with its own efforts to paint itself as a protector rather than a major enemy of “individual mobility.”
Of course, by “individual mobility,” Bimmer means perpetual (luxury) car-selling and cars-first transportation.
Which is worse — the shamelessness or the massive and multiple illogic and disingenuity?
Corporate capitalists are addicted to selling automobiles. Neither rain nor sleet nor Peak Oil nor World War III will divert them from their money-making mission.
Hence, the unchanging nature of the “greatest spectacle in American sports,” the Super Bowl. Like both the National Football League and the whole of American television, it remains, first and foremost, a behavior-modification project whose main sponsor remains the automotive-industrial complex, which itself remains the indispensable heart of the capitalist economic order.
According to this piece from The Huffington Post, there were 60 commercials — not counting five ads referring viewers back to the NFL and this year’s Super Bowl broadcaster NBC — run during yesterday’s broadcast. (Note: If the widely reported cost of $3.5 million per ad — almost 100 times the rate charged for ads during Super Bowl I — is correct, that means the 2012 Super Bowl show generated $210 million of advertising revenue for NBC, not counting any ads promoting the game in advance.)
By DbC‘s count, 21 of the 60 Super Bowl XLVI ads were for cars, tires, or cars.com.
As for the content of these ads, there was, of course, zero acknowledgment that anything has changed since the days of the Studebaker. Indeed, none other than Clint Eastwood, after a couple decades of decent movie making, took his opportunity to jump his own personal shark by appearing as a mindless tough guy in a Chrysler ad assuring everybody that it’s merely “halftime” in the great American project of cars-first living.
The new Italian partners in the Chrysler corporation have obviously decided that doubling down on lunkheadedness is the key to selling their wares. We’ve already seen their efforts to paint muscle cars as patriotic. Now, they have the chutzpah to suggest that buying a minivan is “using the right tool for the job”:
Again, I wonder how my grandchildren will look at this amazing piece of in-your-face stupidity. It would be galling enough to talk of the fate of the species in the year 2012 while further peddling the absurd idea that extremely complex 4,000-pound objects are any kind of proper tool for everyday locomotion. But to do so on the thesis that the prospect of hauling mattresses in the proper manly (but not really) way ought to be a yardstick in one’s selection of car model?