Thursday, June 05, 2003


Here's a question: why do we care about Martha Stewart? Raise your hand if you think Martha Stewart is the Anti-Christ, or at the very least, Satan incarnate? I'll admit it freely, Martha Stewart scares me. I find it frightening that one person can market themselves into a brand. That's happening a lot now a days; it seems everyone lately is carving their niche out of the great popculture world of competing subcultures and making themselves into the Brand of brands. There are whole bookshelves full of marketing books. Tons of them, some good, some bad, some horrible, some excellant.

Here's what it is and why we care about Martha Stewart. We care because she became a part of us whether we like it or not. Everyone has a schtick why can't she? She did, and therein is why we are all, whether we like to admit or not, so happy and pleased, either consciously or subconsciously, that she is on her way down, or at the very least some of her luster has been worn off. Her schtick of "Mrs Good Clean AmeriKan" is the very thing that has done her in, plain and simple.

Its amazing how easily we, and I include myself in that "we," are hoodwinked and made to think the way the media wants us to. We buy things because there is a pretty model that waves her hands in a particular way, or we eat something because if we don't we won't be cool and our friends look down on us, or we drink a sugarbased beverage because an ad tells us it will make us feel better, or better yet, we buy lawn greening equipment because we fear our neighbors might look down on us.

A few weeks ago i got a cd from Adbusters Magazine. Let me say at the outset that I skim the magazine for the fun of it. I find some of their politics and stances to be a bit, how shall I put it, extreme. Well, I got a cd from the magazine. It had some great music on it, but at one point there is this guy saying something to this effect: "Hello, I am me and I am using this to make you buy that." He said it over and over again to a hypnotic beat underneath. As I drove home from work I thought about that. How true. We have so many things competing for our attention and money. We are bombarded every day with stimuli. Marshal MacLure was right when he stated "Media is the Massage."

I know I have become desensitised to it all. I don't realize that I am being marketed to. Its all subliminal. Case in point: a few months ago I was in a Blockbuster video store. I was waiting on line to rent a movie and they had a television on. There was an ad for Vanilla Coke. I had never had a Vanilla Coke before, as I got to the counter I saw a Coca-Cola display; on the top shelf were plastic bottles of Vanilla Coke. I remember reaching for it, thinking I was thirsty for one, but I stopped short of grabbing one. I realized I had never had one so i was not sure what one taste like; that led me to another realization: I had no idea why I wanted one, but then I realized-- I had just been had. I had just been marketed to and I didn't like it; a suggestion had been placed in my brain pan and I had reacted to it, just like a Pavlovian dog. I was pissed off, I almost walked out of the store leaving my video behind; I didn't, but it was a close thing. I had learned something, though. I always kind of though (hoped is more like it) that I was immune to marketing; that I could make my own decisions and I wasn't swayed by ads and such, but I was wrong. I can be and am swayed by such things. That bugs me. Really, it does. And I think therein lies my feelings of glee that Martha Stewart is having her problems. She marketed herself to the world as one thing, but suddenly we are starting to see something else, the ugly underbelly of her empire.

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