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.: rambles --> fighting the merchants of cool

disjointed thoughts on fighting the merchants of cool

I couldn't sleep after watching The Merchants of Cool. While much of the information was not new to me, having it all laid out in a row was very disturbing.

If you missed the show I highly recommend that you watch it when it airs again May 1, 2001. Meanwhile, dig into the website to find out who owns your brain.

I'm convinced that media literacy is one answer to this assault: knowing who is constructing which messages (and recognizing that all messages are constructed), understanding how they are constructed, and what the makers may wish to gain is more essential now than it has ever been. (If you're not familiar with media literacy, The Center for Media Literacy and The Media Literacy Clearinghouse are two great places to begin.)

But understanding the manipulation of the media is not enough. In December 1999 I linked to Body by Madison Avenue, and found this:

When Elizabeth Massie interviewed girls between the ages of 9 and 18 for a documentary video, 'Who Cares About Girls?,' denial was rampant. 'Girls assured us they were not influenced,' says Ms. Massie of Los Angeles. 'They only referred to their friends being influenced. Even when girls recognize manipulation, they're incapable of resisting it.'

I believe that all of us, even children, are very sophisticated viewers of media. We've been immersed in it all of our lives. How many times have you tuned into the middle of a movie and within 10 minutes identified the main characters and the basic story? All of us are capable of this. But still, we're influenced by media messages.

The message of marketing is simple: 'You are not good enough. Buy this and you will be (sexy, desireable, loveable) happy.' It seems to me that a strong value system is another component to owning your own soul. I don't mean a particular value system. I mean yours. Knowing what you believe and what you think matters, and then measuring your own actions against that template is the only way to align yourself, to achieve integrity.

I suppose all of us are, in some way or another, part of the huge marketing machine. Communicating effectively is not a bad thing. Promoting something you believe to be harmful is. It's harmful to society, and it's very, very harmful to your soul (however you define that). It's very important to be able to look in the mirror everyday and to be fully at peace with the person looking back at you.

Knowing what makes humans truly happy (community, service, love) and then focusing on those things is another antidote (I think). Seeing to it that we give ourselves those genuine connections must help immunize us against the false message that who we are is not good enough.

Remember that you can always be better, but never forget that who you are is always enough.

rebecca blood
march 2001


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