Farking Mentality: Degredation Is in the Eye of the Beholder

targeting customersYesterday our post “Nike: Just Watch! Girls Sidelined with Algebra Allergy” was “Farked.”  Wow.

What is Fark?  From the “About” page:

The first thing you should know is that Fark.com isn’t a Weblog. Fark.com, the Web site, is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site. Every day Fark receives 2,000 or so news submissions from its readership, from which we hand-pick the funny and weird notable news — and not-news — of the day.

Fark isn’t an acronym. It doesn’t mean anything. The idea was to have the word Fark come to symbolize news that is really Not News. Hence the slogan “It’s not news, it’s Fark.”

So, someone must have shared our post in order to offer it up for “fun.”  I suppose that’s the intent as the tagline of the site is “We don’t make news.  We mock it.”  A noble pursuit.

The link tag offered though is ambiguous as it actually affirms the position of the post: No science projects. No book reports. No math. Just CHEER… and make me a sammich during halftime  (btownerrant.com).  So, the mockery seems diffuse–somewhat scattershot in its target. But then mockery is like that–it has designs on everything.

I suppose it was a successful fark, receiving 89 comments and over 10,000 clicks; one of the most for the day (Sunday).  It certainly catapulted our traffic here.  We had over 8,000 page views (our previous high, 230) from over 7,500 unique viewers.  So, regardless of mocking intent–we had what every site wants, traffic…readers.  And from “time-on-page” data it’s clear the post was read.  So, thanks for the farking!

The comments were somewhat expected I suppose: ranging from “lighten up” to “cheerleaders ARE dumb” with less friendly and more insulting taunts in-between.  However, many supported the position as well: that advertising is invidious and that the calculated barrage of “messages” are primarily degrading and harmful to ALL of us as that is the intent.  First, understand you are NOT this pretty, smart, sexy, wealthy, etc.  Next, buy this shit and you will be.  I wrote what follows prior to experiencing the Farkisode but it seems more appropriate now.

***

When I was in college one of my favorite albums was Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Bread and Circus” (1988 on cassette).  One song on that album popped into my head yesterday as I was reading Photine’s post on misogynistic and degrading sports advertising.  (In truth, what advertising involving women wouldn’t fit those terms?) Actually, it shoved its way into my mind via the hippocampus or amygdala or whatever when I watched the Nike commercial “If you let me play sports”.  Mostly featured were little girls on playgrounds speaking straight into a camera.  They looked, intentionally, I should suppose, a little ragged and sad…undernourished both physically and spiritually, which seems likely a true representation.

The song is “One Little Girl”, sung and co-written by the teen-aged Glen Phillips.

One little girl
Told to know her place
Told she must believe
And do what he says
One little girl
Taught that she is small
Taught that she is less
And man’s decree is law

One little boy who’d know her too well
But that one little boy could send her to hell
One little man who’d care if she cried
But that one little man would leave her
And then she’d die

One little girl
Is beaten ’till she faints
Told that this is love
Told that she will have to take it
One little girl
Is just a bit confused
Thought that she was human too

One little girl
Couldn’t run away
Anywhere she’d go
The rules and men the same
One little girl
Couldn’t take the pain
Numbed herself ’till none remained

One Little Girl (Youtube video)

Then, as synchronicity would have, my friend Jeremy shared a link to an inactive site called The Seventeen Magazine Project whose author describes it as:

an attempt to spend one month living according to the gospel of Seventeen Magazine. This blog will serve as documentation of this endeavor, as well as commentary on the adolescent experience.

And from the “rules” page:

This is what I will set out to explore. The goal of this project is to simply explore a dying aspect of teenage culture. I will live my life according to the tips provided by the June/July issue of Seventeen magazine and Seventeen.com from today until the weekend of my high school graduation (June 21). Conveniently, this project will also span the Most Important and Magical Night of My Teenage Life (i.e. senior prom). I will use this blog to record my findings, and to provide commentary on teenage life/the adolescent experience.
Here are the rules of the project:
  1. I will read the entire June/July issue of Seventeen magazine from cover to cover.
  2. Every day I will utilize at least one “beauty tip” (hair/makeup/skincare/whathaveyou) and one fashion tip.
  3. I will follow all diet and exercise tips provided in the issue to a T.
  4. I will participate in every activity recommended by the magazine (i.e. host a fright night, score your hottest summer hookup ever, be confident in a bikini, etc.)
  5. I will apply for every single “freebie” offered by the magazine, every day.
  6. I will consume all media recommended by the magazine at least once. (books/movies/music)
  7. I will hang all provided pictures/posters of “hot guys” in my living environment.
Full disclosure, I am probably far too self-aware for this project to draw any sort of credible conclusion on the effects of teen magazines on teen girls. An initial “picture walk” of this month’s issue seems to point to the idea that sarcasm/cynicism/self-awareness doesn’t exist in the sub-21 world. Nonetheless, I am excited to see where this takes me.
This same self-aware teen-aged woman, Jamie Keiles, graduated high school and moved to Chicago to attend the U of Chicago and there was part of an organized demonstration against the “culture of blaming the victim” called “SlutWalk Chicago”.
SlutWalk Chicago aims to combat the myth of “the slut” and the culture of victim blaming that prevails the world over.  Our mission is to enforce the truth that those who experience sexual assault are never at fault– no exceptions. We seek to combat a culture that teaches “don’t get raped,” as opposed to “don’t rape.”
She spoke at the event saying,
I’m angry at everyone who has ever demonized the dark alley in place of the rapist.
I’m angry at “no means maybe” and “she was asking for it.”
I’m angry at a culture.  And a culture is the worst enemy to have.A culture is the worst enemy because it is invisible.  You can’t write letters to a culture.  You can’t boycott it.  You can’t kick it in the shins or spit in its face.  Fighting a culture is frustrating.  You have no leader to topple.  In fighting it, you witness very few benchmarks of progress….A changed culture isn’t achieved by mass demonstrations—it is achieved through one-on-one interactions.  Culture doesn’t change at the rally, but at the water cooler.  Culture changes when you teach your kids to act with integrity.  It changes when you talk to your neighbors about justice, and call your friends out on their bullshit.  Few people care about the thoughts of a bunch of strangers marching in the street.  Most people value the input of those they hold close to them.
Photine’s post about denigrating advertising directed at girls is a letter to a culture.  The song above is as well.  Nearly all of the work here on Errant should be considered letters to a culture.

Our culture privileges men, wealth, and power.  Understanding this means that you understand that nearly all of us are victims of domination by the makers of our culture.  We must also be clear that it is vastly more important to teach our young boys the value of respect and dignity and that there is absolutely nothing laudatory about dominating women.

Keiles makes an important point as to why it’s so very hard to really do anything substantive in the US to “make a change”.  “You have no leader to topple.”  When leaders of totalitarian governments are toppled, so goes the totalitarian culture.  The US has a “totalizing” culture that has no head to chop off.  As Chomsky points out again and again, CEOs and Presidents are replaceable with virtually no variation in how organizations are run.  This is because they are not important.  The totality of ideology favoring business and markets is our “leader”.  There is a system in place that “reverse funnels” money and power upwards.

Likewise, change Nike’s slogans, there is still Nike, there are still slogans, and there is still the same pervasive “meaning” behind all of our cultural images used to push mere useless meaningless product.

Guess what, one can locate a t-shirt with absolutely NO slogan*.

Slogans are symptoms.  We must correctly identify the disease**.

We live in a state-capitalist economy wherein products are created for the sake of “cash flow”; products that have little reason for even existing MUST be promoted and assigned an imaginary value.  Advertising appeals to the “ideals” of this imaginary economy.  Products actually provide one of a handful of “meanings” to the value of a human life.  Our products define us.  It is nearly impossible to think otherwise.  Why that car?  Why that suit, that tie, that computer?  Products create and sustain our tribalisms as well as particular products are developed and marketed to sell in specific demographic and regional sectors.

We are all undeserving.  We are all unloved.  First you are told you are nothing and then you are offered fulfillment.  All normally wrapped around female body parts or symbols of such.  As Octavio Paz has said, “Our democratic capitalist society has converted Eros into an employee of Mammon.”

Are products do our thinking for us.  Our Hospitals have tag lines and “loyalty” surveys.  The industry provides the script.  You live it as directed.

You know all this, I’m sure of it.  Fighting Nike is Quixotic at best; We should fight that there be no Nike; no Microsoft, no Apple, no Walmart, no Doritos, no Coke or Pepsi.  No Pfizer or Merck.  No BP or Shell.  NO PRODUCTS.  No Markets.  No Logo.

Just people, mere people, without the mediation of manufactured desperation to “be” someone else or something “better”.

 

*Naomi Klein has written about our thrall to branded culture in her book No Logo.

**Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits diagnosed it with lyrical energy in 1982.  (YouTube)

 

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3 Comments

  1. Eric M. Sargent September 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I referenced “Bread and Circus” as a great album just last week… no one agreed with me. Good article.

    Reply
    1. Douglas Storm September 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm

      Fools! I love “know me”.

      Reply

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