Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category
Why would Gordon Ramsay make fun of himself? Isn’t he proud of his famously “terrifying” personality? Isn’t that the source of his success? The factor which separates him from all other chefs? The reason why – incidentally – he was able to land a tv show (a popular one, no less)? Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at, so are we to believe instead that he isn’t proud, and that it’s not the reason? That he is successful in spite of his temper, not because of it?
He can’t have it both ways, so if by appearing in this commercial he is actually saying that he could have become who he is in the food world, as well as in popular culture, without his temper, then why spend literally years acting unnecessarily mean? Why make yourself into someone you’re not – to the point where you’re notable to most because of something that’s not real, and not what you want to be known for (ie: your temper, instead of something particular about your food)? The reason he has acted this way over the years (at least to the degree that he has) is because in truth he actually is not worth watching (or, more precisely, not to the degree that he actually is), and that the only reason why his show is so popular is simply because America’s mixed economy gives the government the power (mostly through foreign policy and fiat currency) to paper over the disintegration of America’s real power which is currently taking place. Things are just bad enough that the public wishes to turn to garish television shows (even if they masquerade as educational) such as his to evade the truth, but not quite so bad that they can no longer afford to.
The way this commercial is expected to work is by helping the viewer evade all of that (ie: the true reason for their interest in television shows such as Ramsay’s). By backhandedly acknowledging that Ramsay’s (culinary) success is only partially – if at all – dependent upon his willingness to get exceptionally angry in order to uphold his standards (ie: that it’s actually partially – if not completely – an act meant to entertain his television viewers), it allows the television-watching public to feel as though they aren’t really watching such shows in order to avoid their problems. People are aware of the fact that if someone truly has a problem, he can’t even acknowledge that he does. They are counting on this awareness in order to lie to themselves. To tell themselves “I must be watching this show for some other reason than simply to avoid reality with my problems – because if I were, then I couldn’t even handle a comical commercial which suggests that I am. It must really be that I’m learning about the culinary world, and that this show really does consistently teach me about it (as opposed to that just being a pretext for displaying interpersonal drama).”
AT&T is hoping that the emotional tranquility which comes from “knowing” this becomes associated with this commercial in particular so that when it is disrupted – which it will be, since it’s based on a lie – people will think of it in order to reestablish said tranquility (and in doing so remember that it was an AT&T commercial, remember how they’re in the market for phone service, and look more closely at AT&T’s plans).
Such psychological manipulation is exactly what’s necessary for companies who operate in the very same mixed economy which, ironically, produces caricatures such as Ramsay.
Art is “a selective recreation of the artist’s metaphysical value judgments.” Which facts of reality the artist finds worth communicating, and which the viewer deems worth being communicated. What this means is that art exposes what it’s creator (or it’s consumer, if he approves of it) deems as important, as essential, as immutable about the nature of reality. Obviously no one, anywhere, consciously believes that reality is so bizarre that any of the things that happen in these commercials could happen, but what many people do believe is that there are certain aspects of reality which in fact actually are incomprehensible. As much as they’re loathe to admit it, what this conviction says to those who hold it is that it stands to reason, then, that such insane contradictions could come into existence if circumstances were right. Because in principle there is nothing about reality which can give anyone certainty, there is nothing about reality which precludes contradictions.
The most prominent aspect of life in which this view manifests itself is the human condition (namely the philosophical realms of morality, politics, and esthetics). When faced with a problem concerning the physical sciences which they do not understand, most people would not consciously throw up their hands and declare “who am I to know” or “such is reality” (they would simply recognize that they are not educated about that particular subject), but if it’s an internal personal problem or a social issue they’re dealing with, many times that is exactly what they do. They give up, and act purely according to their emotions. Of course, they find no clarity as a result, but this doesn’t stop them from holding onto the belief which precluded clarity from ever being achieved. Not only that, but such notions being so widely-held is precisely what gives rise to the types of social mores and political phenomenons which, from a lone individual’s perspective, (ironically and tragically) make reality (ie: the consequences of such things to one’s own personal situation) truly incomprehensible (ie: one’s fate is no longer determined by his own volition and actions, but rather the whims of those with power and influence).
Commercials such as those featured here provide added insulation from whatever gnawing regret (or guilt) the viewer might have regarding his conscious conviction about the “inherent irrationality of life.” They allow him to think that because he is not so crazy as to feel like obviously irrational things such as watermelons that look like basketballs may occur around every corner, the diffused anxiety his ignorance or misunderstanding of the human condition actually does give him isn’t a problem. The appeal of this art is that it tells the consumer “nothing’s the matter, you’re right to feel how you feel.” What the companies who use this art to sell their products are banking upon is that the relief that message provides will endear their company to the consumer in a much more fundamental and personal way than the virtue of their (generally unvirtuous or indistinguishable) products ever could on their own.
The outlaws of The Old West were criminals. They imposed their will upon people by force; without consent. Modern cell phone companies do no such thing. They offer a service, state their terms for the service, and the customer either consents to them or he doesn’t. Often, one of the terms is that should the customer agree to do business with the company, he cannot change his mind for a period of time (a contract). Again, this is not without his consent. It is simply a term he decides to agree to. Simply because the customer may come to regret his decision does not mean that the company holding him to it represents force being used. If anything, the only force that’s involved in such a situation is the customer forcing the company to do what it shouldn’t have to do: go out of it’s way to remind him that he promised to abide by the terms of the contract.
T-Mobile is a private, for-profit business. The fact that they would equate the actions of Old West criminals with the behavior of their competitors – simply because they know that most of the public is oblivious to the distinction mentioned above, and therefore will find the attack upon “big business” as emotionally satisfying – is reprehensible. It’s pandering to stupidity for the sake of short-term gain – and ironically it is exactly this type of pandering that has made (or at least prolonged) the public’s conceptual impotence; and – because that same impotence allows anti-business political leaders to have power – the economy is in such a precarious state that companies have become so desperate that this sort of pandering seems worthwhile (since the short-term is the only thing they can count on).
If T-Mobile wanted to use it’s public voice for the purpose of distinguishing itself from it’s competitors by pointing out, as a selling point, that it’s able to offer greater or complete contractual flexibility, that would be one thing, but that is not what they are doing. Instead, what they are doing is trying to make something which isn’t all that much better (all things about their service considered) appear much better by making themselves out to be on a political/moral crusade – and inviting the customer to join – so that he will feel better about using T-Mobile than he actually should.
This commercial is a classic package deal.