I remember those days, and as time goes on the memories have taken on new meaning. Not just, oh what do you call it, melancholy or sadness for an era gone (for like Billy Joel sang, “the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems), but more like fear.
I think “fear” is the right word – for thinking, or realizing, the difference between sincerity and working to make a convincing argument (I can see right now that this might take some explaining).
One of my favorite relatively current films is, The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, and Peter Facinelli.
It’s got a back door message that is stated by the DeVito character. And it goes like this: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or ‘How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.’ That doesn’t make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are – just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore; it’s a pitch. And you’re not a human being; you’re a marketing rep.”
The older I get, the more I think I understand and appreciate the intent behind this statement. And the more fearful I become, that people, in their ever increasing mission to improve upon the status quo, will finally, and with finality, strip away all innocence from all we see, hear, and confront in our day to day lives.
That all we will know is – what someone else wants us to know.
That means nothing is left to chance, nothing is left for interpretation, and that is not sincere communication. Well, is it? Or isn’t it?
Product placement in a film – it’s a pitch, but it’s not apparently a pitch because your favorite persona is making you laugh or cry or, god forbid, think. But the product, well, so the film character is drinking a soda, people DO drink sodas, right?
So film product placement may be overtly insincere, but most of the time, when you see logos, or store fronts, or advertisements, or watch TV, or what have you, you do know that part of the scene is selling. Right? That is sincere.
So what’s my gripe really about? My fear is based on the fact that, sincere or not, the underlining theme for survival is now orchestrated, all the time, for most interactions – whether it’s the phone tree advertisement, film product placement, fake smiling faces at a fast food counter, or sleek new sexy iPhone.
It’s an environmental gripe. I realize there are still entraprenures, small businesses run by sincere people just trying to make a living, who will also take the time and energy to come accross with real human touches, but in my view, they’re up against a big, very big other-worldly monster.
Oh, and the fear – if everything is something other than what it seems – if all the smiles, the electronic toys, store facades, “consumer advise” are really just here to sell, and that’s really all there is, well, where is the authenticity in that.
What’s real if it’s not?
Obvious example of authentic vs. not: Rolex watches vs. knock-offs.
Slightly less obvious: “local” news shows (or websites, or paper throw-aways – made to appear created by local talent, but really generated (in some cases automatically) by regional or national production corporate owned headquarters.
Even less obvious (perhaps): “Reality” TV, or Reality TV (you decide) – a wedding, performed on a Reality TV show – is it as authentic as without the cameras, and audience, and the knowledge of its intent?
Will new generations believe that what exists is Real, no matter what the intent, no matter what the objective?
Self-test – do you understand the above sentence?
No? Don’t worry, you’ve got lots of company.
Yes? Don’t fear, all things must pass.