For the Sake of Envy-Eaten Smallness
“Under the Railroad Unification Plan, a local railroad had gone bankrupt in North Dakota, abandoning the region to the fate of a blighted area, the local banker had committed suicide, first killing his wife and children — a freight train had been taken off the schedule in Tennessee, leaving a local factory without transportation at a day’s notice, the factory owner’s son had quit college and was now in jail, awaiting execution for a murder with a gang of raiders — a way station had been closed in Kansas, and the station agent, who had wanted to be a scientist, had given up his studies and become a dishwasher — that he, James Taggart, might sit in a private barroom and pay for the alcohol pouring down Orren Boyle’s throat, for the waiter who sponged Boyle’s garments when he spilled his drink over his chest, for the carpet burned by the cigarettes of an ex-pimp from Chile who did not want to take the trouble of reaching for an ashtray across a distance of three feet.” – Ayn Rand, 1957: “Atlas Shrugged”, Part III — “A is A”, chapter IV
The context of that quote is a gathering of “crony capitalists” (ie: not really capitalists) who are meeting to discuss their schemes, the cost such schemes have on real capitalists, and the pathetic, disgusting, trivial – and therefore obscene – personal habits to which the victims’ rights, wealth, hopes, and dreams are actually sacrificed (as opposed to the “noble” collectivist ideals which such suffering is supposed to be for the sake of).
Who, in this day and age, has very good credit? Is it the man who’s more (truly) productive than the next, or simply the man who’s more willing to exploit the worst within others, or some kind of market-distorting government interference, or a combination of both? Increasingly, if not completely, it is the latter. That is to whom this commercial is targeted..
This commercial is expected to work on such people because depsite everything they tell themselves, and despite how they spend the vast majority of their time so narrowly focused on their day-to-day concerns that they don’t even have to tell themselves such things very often, they are plagued by a chronic (and deserved) feeling of guilt about the true source of (at least part of) their financial successes (including their relatively good credit scores). A commercial like this one provides a moment’s reprieve from that guilt. It allows the targeted demographic to tell themselves “I don’t do that [blatantly take something with deep personal value to someone], so therefore what I do do must be different [than partially contributing to types of personal disasters – born from professional ones – dramatised in the passage quotes above].” How, essentially, is it different? Blank out. All that matters is that for a moment, the viewer is relieved of his chronic emotion. Experian knows that because such an emotion is inevitably going to return (the only to way to change that is to actually change the nature of one’s life), the rationalization which came from seeing this commercial the first time has a chance of being recalled (in order to once against blunt the uncomfortable emotion) – and the company hopes that when and if it is, that the viewer will also remember that it was an Experian commercial (because if he also happens to be in the market for a credit check, he might think “what the heck, I’ll use Experian”).
It’s sad that this particular commercial resorts to this manipulative tactic, because there are others (here and here) in the same family which don’t resort to it, and instead just dramatize the kind of legitimate negotiating which can take place in even a truly capitalist (ie: truly quid pro quo) transaction.*
*Or, if anything, actually (and admirably) lampoon the typical bank for being exactly the sort of fake (“crony”) capitalist (organization) the analyzed commercial compliments.