FI Question #17: And now, a word from our sponsor...

by Tom Robbins

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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FI Question #17: And now, a word from our sponsor...

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:28 am

Robbins has quite a bit to say about the influence of the media in our culture and how it creates a dumbing down of our society. On page 194 he writes, “Well, culture has always been driven to some degree by the marketplace. Always. It’s just that nowadays, the marketplace, having invaded every nook and cranny of our private lives, is completely supplanting culture; the marketplace has become our culture.” Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, can you think of some examples? :soapbox:
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Unread postby Veronica » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:01 am

I think that it influences us too much. For us average Joes, the advertising that is pushed in our faces. We fall right into their traps. A magazine that has Johnny on the cover & nothing much in it on Johnny. He does sell magazines!!! GUILTY!! the phrase dumbing down is a little harsh but we do fall into the advertisng trap. a TV show that advertises gossip or even just a gaget that is advertised. We feel that we have to have to make life a lil more easier. A piece of exercise equipment. OUCH! Im gulity of that. When all we need to do is walk, run, our own bodies is the only tool we need.
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Unread postby lumineuse » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:38 am

I would have to agree with that statement. An example would be the recording industry. We are being spoon-fed what music to like, on radio stations, and worse - MTV, and record execs are bombarding us with exposure to "artists" they are trying to promote. The fact that most of them are relatively talentless and unoriginal has no bearing - the motivation is money. Arists of genuine talent and originality fall by the wayside because they aren't "marketable". And I believe that has a very bad effect on our culture - it has removed a lot of diversity from the arts.
The movie industry is of course, exactly the same. Witness the promotion of the Aviator over FN. Or countless other horrible movies, that are made to look so "cool" in their advertising. We are buying image over content. Thankfully, it does seem that smaller, independent films are getting a little more attention these days, but you get my point. And you can expand it to many other areas of American life, at least.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 19, 2005 11:56 am

veronica wrote: I think that it influences us too much. For us average Joes, the advertising that is pushed in our faces. We fall right into their traps. A magazine that has Johnny on the cover & nothing much in it on Johnny. He does sell magazines!!! GUILTY!! the phrase dumbing down is a little harsh but we do fall into the advertisng trap. a TV show that advertises gossip or even just a gaget that is advertised. We feel that we have to have to make life a lil more easier. A piece of exercise equipment. OUCH! Im gulity of that. When all we need to do is walk, run, our own bodies is the only tool we need.


I plead guilty to being a sucker for the magazines! :cloud9: We are fortunate in our society to have so many gadgets that make our life easier but it does get ridiculous when the media creates a need we didn't even know we have and then we fall into the trap.


lumineuse wrote: I would have to agree with that statement. An example would be the recording industry. We are being spoon-fed what music to like, on radio stations, and worse - MTV, and record execs are bombarding us with exposure to "artists" they are trying to promote. The fact that most of them are relatively talentless and unoriginal has no bearing - the motivation is money. Arists of genuine talent and originality fall by the wayside because they aren't "marketable". And I believe that has a very bad effect on our culture - it has removed a lot of diversity from the arts.


The music industry is a hot button topic with me lumineuse. Living here in Austin I am luck enough to be exposed to so many talented artists that never get a chance in the mainstream to get their music out. :banghead: The homogenization of today's music by giant radio station conglomerates makes me CRAZY!!! :mort1: Luckily we have a great radio station here in Austin that doesn't play the mainstream all day and highlights the independet and upcoming artists. :cool:

I also think that as our different ethnic cultures have become more blended and our technology so accessible, our common touchstones are handed to us by the mass media. We lose our individual identities along the way and start believing what we are told to think is important. Okay, I could write an essay here but I will stop before my blood pressure goes any higher! :soapbox:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby luvdepp » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:19 pm

lumineuse wrote:The movie industry is of course, exactly the same. Witness the promotion of the Aviator over FN. Or countless other horrible movies, that are made to look so "cool" in their advertising. We are buying image over content. Thankfully, it does seem that smaller, independent films are getting a little more attention these days, but you get my point. And you can expand it to many other areas of American life, at least.

This is so true. There have been so many times where I will see a preview for a movie and think how great it is going to be. When I actually see the film, it seems like all the good parts were in the preview and the rest of the movie just wasted my time. A few good moments with a lot of filler in between.
I think TV is a media that is a huge waste of time for the most part. 90% trash, with a few worthwhile shows thrown in if you hunt for them. What bothers me is that we are bombarded with "celebrities" who are only famous for being famous, i.e, Paris Hilton. Young people look up to these people and try to emulate them. My 14 year old is fascinated by Paris Hilton and I cringe everytime I hear that name.
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Unread postby Veronica » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:43 pm

I agree Luv Depp, My kids think Paris is stupid but the fashion part of it is what I hate. Kids try to dress like that or like other teen stars on tv. Most kids arent shaped for the fashion trends that are out there.

my daughter wants a little tiny dog like Paris has & Brittany.
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Unread postby lumineuse » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:52 pm

Oh, Geez, luvdepp and Veronica - don't even get me started on Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears! And reality shows are going to be the death of culture altogether!!!! (Like DITHOT, I've got to watch my blood pressure on this topic!)
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Unread postby Veronica » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:01 pm

lumineuse wrote:Oh, Geez, luvdepp and Veronica - don't even get me started on Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears! And reality shows are going to be the death of culture altogether!!!! (Like DITHOT, I've got to watch my blood pressure on this topic!)


REALITY SHOWS :banghead: :banghead:

the only one that I consider to be good (but not good to watch) Is the biggest Looser because they at least get something that is good. Quality Life. Leaner & healthy. Its not back stabbing. at least from what I have seen of it, which is not much
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Today is a gift....Have Fun!

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Unread postby axelsgirl » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:04 pm

I do agree that the marketplace has become our culture to an amazing degree. "The medium is the message." rings very true. The newest thing to come along is what everyone "needs", and the media sure crams it down our throats! From the latest political or social cause to what diet we should be on to what fashions we should be wearing, to what level of violence we are able to tolerate, all seem to be dictated by the marketplace. Of course a wise person doesn't let it dictate how they should live their life. I wish I was wiser in that area! :lol:
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Unread postby KYwoman » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:09 pm

Yes, we can be totally manipulated by what we see/hear. I can be guilty of that sometimes. I have bought my fair share of things off those shopping networks.

I know I sound OLD, but much of the 'manufactured' music today is horrible. There are so many talented musicians out there that don't get air time because they don't have the right look! Thank goodness in Louisville, like Austin, we have a great public radio station that plays artists you wouldn't normally hear. DITHOT, that's where I heard Los Lonely Boys long before the mainstream got a hold of them.

As for the likes of Brittany, Paris, Nicole, reality shows, etc......god help us!!! I about flipped when I found out my aunt and mother watch the Survivor shows!! When I was growing up my mom called the tv the boob tube and made cracks about the shows I watched as a kid. The media must have finally gotten to her, she's been changed into a 'pod person'!

I always find it amusing when those in the media talk about how much the media is a bad influence and yet they keep on doing it. I kept thinking why is the Peterson case getting so much air play when that kind of thing happens all over. Go figure.

I have been in other countries, but I can't tell how much this is true elsewhere. Maybe London is similar? Don't know.
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Unread postby fansmom » Wed Jan 19, 2005 2:25 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:The music industry is a hot button topic with me lumineuse. Living here in Austin I am luck enough to be exposed to so many talented artists that never get a chance in the mainstream to get their music out. :banghead: The homogenization of today's music by giant radio station conglomerates makes me CRAZY!!! :mort1: Luckily we have a great radio station here in Austin that doesn't play the mainstream all day and highlights the independet and upcoming artists. :cool:

I also think that as our different ethnic cultures have become more blended and our technology so accessible, our common touchstones are handed to us by the mass media. We lose our individual identities along the way and start believing what we are told to think is important. Okay, I could write an essay here but I will stop before my blood pressure goes any higher! :soapbox:


Count your blessings, DITHOT. The Washington area just lost its only alternative music station. (Warning: old codger talk ahead, and a bit of a tangent.) When I was a teen, the station played whatever records the DJ brought from home: jazz, rock, alt rock, George Carlin, whatever. The station was purchased by a conglomerate a few years ago and changed to rock/alt rock, but over this past weekend, it went Spanish. There is now only one rock station in this area, and absolutely nothing for local music except the NPR affiliate which sometimes showcases local talent. I listen to a lot of NPR, and enjoy the fact that it's commercial-free.

More to the point: I'm not sure I know what Robbins means by culture. Does he mean the fine arts, as "high culture," whatever makes us "cultured" individuals? Or does he mean culture as daily life, what binds us together as a society, distinct from other societies?

I'm not sure I could come up with a society in which the average person had frequent contact with "high" culture. "Girl with a Pearl Earring" was fiction, and butcher's wives didn't see Rembrandt's paintings on a daily basis. Peasants didn't see cathedrals unless they were within walking distance. Even standing room at the Globe for one of Shakespeare's plays cost cash that most people didn't have.

If Robbins means TV as our great cultural homogenizer, that which binds us together as a society, well, d'uh, it's run by advertising. How could it not be governed by the marketplace?

If I were fluent in Spanish, I could tell you whether that new radio station is preserving Latino culture or assimilating it into the American mainstream.

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Unread postby Gypsylee » Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:03 pm

I agree. Holidays is my example. When you find Christmas decorations in stores in October........ Creating new holidays to sell product. I don't think I need to delve into it any further because I am sure you know what I am talking about. You'd have to stay out of stores and not watch TV to avoid it all.

I had no electricity during all the storms in California one day this month. What to do........couldn't work (office in home/internet, etc.) so I walked to the top of a big hill (wasn't raining at the moment) and soaked up the view. I have lived here 7 years and never walked up that hill before. No TV, no lights, you have to be creative with your time and I actually enjoyed the time with my son. We lit a lot of candles and talked and laughed.

You have to cut yourself off from the media/marketplace occasionally to get in touch with yourself/family.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:06 pm

fansmom wrote: More to the point: I'm not sure I know what Robbins means by culture. Does he mean the fine arts, as "high culture," whatever makes us "cultured" individuals? Or does he mean culture as daily life, what binds us together as a society, distinct from other societies?


fansmom I took it to mean that instead of people creating individualisitic items of expression of their culture (books, art, music, dance, etc.) the mass media/merchandisers were feeding our perceptions of what was desireable, interesting or popular. In a sense this goes back to my statement about losing cultural identities and becoming homogonized. You may not be able to find the mom and pop corner grocery store that carries those special ingredients you need to make your favorite family dish but you can always get the prepackaged, sanitized and advertised version of it at your not so local, giant retail store. Sorry, here I go again... :soapbox:

KYwoman wrote: I always find it amusing when those in the media talk about how much the media is a bad influence and yet they keep on doing it. I kept thinking why is the Peterson case getting so much air play when that kind of thing happens all over. Go figure.


I know what you mean. It seems that if they own up to it that absolves them. There always has to be a "story of the century". :banghead:
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Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:35 pm

Wow! You ladies are having quite a discussion today! This topic seems to have struck a nerve, as it were. :eyebrow: I love it.

lumineuse wrote:I would have to agree with that statement. An example would be the recording industry. We are being spoon-fed what music to like, on radio stations, and worse - MTV, and record execs are bombarding us with exposure to "artists" they are trying to promote. The fact that most of them are relatively talentless and unoriginal has no bearing - the motivation is money. Arists of genuine talent and originality fall by the wayside because they aren't "marketable". And I believe that has a very bad effect on our culture - it has removed a lot of diversity from the arts.
The movie industry is of course, exactly the same. Witness the promotion of the Aviator over FN. Or countless other horrible movies, that are made to look so "cool" in their advertising. We are buying image over content. Thankfully, it does seem that smaller, independent films are getting a little more attention these days, but you get my point. And you can expand it to many other areas of American life, at least.


I'm with you, Lumineuse, and apparently the rest of you. I'd like to add book publishing to the list. It appears the Barnes and Nobles of the world are taking over and putting the independent book stores out of business, not to mention the lesser known authors. Robbins may be a little sensitive about this issue. I tend to try to boycott the large book store chains when they come into town. I try to support my local businesses, not to mention little known authors. Luckily, the culture in which I live in my neck of the woods supports individuality--some might say to the extreme. :lol: Thus we still have a couple of alternative radio stations. And I hate reality shows.
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Unread postby suec » Wed Jan 19, 2005 6:32 pm

I do agree that the marketplace has invaded our lives. Try avoiding advertising when the T.V. is on. We are manipulated into wanting products that will help us be more successful, or beautiful, or happy, or whatever. It can actually be a cause for discontent, always being reminded of what you haven’t got but could have if only you buy the product. And culture can be driven by the marketplace. Look at the number of times films are made just because of their resemblance to others that have sold well. Sequels, or just repeating the formula. I also agree with DIDHOT’s point about homogenization and the loss of local or cultural identities. Wherever you go, the same products are everywhere.

I think it is quite significant that Robbins quotes from Huxley’s Brave New World. Switters thinks, “And the message, no matter how entertainingly couched, is invariably the same: to be special, you must conform; to be happy, you must consume”. This is very reminiscent of the dystopia where there is cloning and conditioning; a subsequent loss of individuality and humanity; and a stable World State based on consumerism. Conveyor belt human beings conditioned to want the goods that can be obtained. Happiness is obtained through satisfying people’s desires, and those desires are carefully channelled. But there is a high price to be paid.

Switters sees through the media lies and won’t be controlled by them. But I think it is important that he takes time out in the convent, where he is relatively remote from all that. I also think it is important that Today is Tomorrow can’t be bought.
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