Dis-Unity

adbusters_82_meme_warfare_brand1

I suppose one of the greatest strengths of the internet is that anyone can use it, and anyone can post their opinion. It’s curious to see just how much dissention this very fact can cause, though, even within groups that are “on the same side.”

I recently came across an Adbusters article claiming that brands are dead:

The monolithic notion of a “brand” – an infinitely dependable symbol of prosperity, happiness, comfort and security – is over… Our daily lives are now inundated by a torrent of dead images and meaningless symbols from a bygone era.

It seems interesting that a magazine such as Adbusters would claim this, since a large portion of their readership is… How do I put this… Of the hipster persuasion. Now, the true, committed, hxcore hipsters may be exempt from this, but many people who are simply trying the lifestyle on are devoted to a brand. If nothing else, it helps them focus their style down, so they can work on the other aspects of hipsterness. Or something. Hipster Runoff certainly doesn’t think its readers will be forsaking brands anytime soon:

Alternative lifestyle brands are the present and the future of the arts & entertainment industry. Bands will no longer be bands; they will be lifestyle brands. Designers are lifestyle brands. Films must exists as lifestyle brands. Blogs and Websites are lifestyle brands. Humans will be lifestyle brands.

At the same time, Hipster Runoff is something of a parody of itself, and claims that memes will be the future.

And in this sense, I think both parties are correct. Brands certainly aren’t going away, but memes are the future, at least in the capacity they do best: advertising. Take, for instance, GEICO’s new advertisement on YouTube:

While the hits on this particular video fall well below the mark set by the “Numa Numa” video it channels, 1.25 million views is nothing to scoff at. Too bad their motorcycle insurance is still more than double what Allstate is quoting (POW!).

I don’t know if that qualifies as particularly alternative. And it’s certainly not guerilla. In fact, it’s playing off of the popularity of a horrendously well-known meme, while including memes of their own (the dancing gecko, for instance). But wait! Isn’t YouTube the pinnacle of alternative media? By its simplicity and ubiquity, doesn’t it set a new standard for what an alternative media outlet should be? Perhaps, but it’s decidedly mainstream. Much the same way that all those worthy indie bands get played on the radio and lose their original fans (I, like, heard them before they even recorded stuff!), YouTube has lost a good deal of its alternative credibility.

And that seems to be the way things are going these days. Alternative media outlets are becoming mainstreamed, and actual alternatives to them aren’t surviving. Perhaps we should stop calling them alternative media, and start calling them “new media.” Or “not- necessarily- owned- by- a- huge- corporate- conglomerate-, but- might- be- media.” Or maybe it’s time to come up with an entirely new name for this altogether.

If my brief time examining alt./guerilla media has taught me one thing, it’s that the cycle of creativity-to-corporate-absorbtion will continue forever. Some innovator will come up with a radical way to present something (guerilla). Then someone will find a way to reproduce that in substantial quantities (alternative). And then, if they don’t sell out to corporations, the corporations will steal those ideas out from under them (mainstream). Which of course will make someone angry, so they’ll create some innovative/radical way to respond… And so on.

If nothing else, it should at least get us consumers some better-designed products. Just look at what Target has done.

Had enough? Here’s the music.

Speaking of mainstream, this first track is an avalanche of pop. But in a glittery, endearing way.

This second track brings much more to the table, both in terms of raw numbers of samples and genres. And it sounds incredible (better?) because of it.

Because that last one was so good, we’ll close out the night with this final track, which, like the last one, was made by the venerable Lenlow.

PS– This is my last “official” post for class, but that doesn’t mean I’m discontinuing this blog. I’ll keep writing as long as I have internet access, so keep checking back!

2 responses to “Dis-Unity

  1. Now I’m depressed…

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