Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Message and the Medium

No, I'm not about to go on about Marshall McLuhan and his famous phrase. This is about more prosaic matters. It's about our increasing obsession with how things are delivered as opposed to what is actually being delivered. We're a society increasingly in awe of the medium when we should be looking more at the message. An obsession with style over substance.

Mundane products in fancy packaging, a bit of slick advertising and we're sold. M & S food advertising.....geez, can nobody make a salad these days? Do we really need a multi-national to employ an army of people in some warehouse up north to put together about fifty pence worth of basic ingredients, stick it in a bag, drive it half way across the country and tell us it'll make us sophisticated if we pay £4.99 for it. Yes we do. All they do is employ some breathless chick to ooh and aah over it in a TV ad and it's an M & S cash cow for the next six months.

Do we really want slick politicians who will tell us what we think we want to hear, deliver something completely different and then tell us, if we listened to what they originally said (more like take a jeweller's fucking eyepiece to the tiny nuances of what they said is more accurate) then we would realise what we have is exactly what they suggested. We've only just got rid of ten years of Blair - a man with apparently endless reserves of meaningless cliches - got Brown, whose smile looks like he's trying to pass a particularly prickly sea urchin - and want to replace him with another Blair - yes, the truly insubstantial, insincere but competently gurning Milliband.

An endless stream of TV programmes allegedly designed to unearth new talent, which are nothing but voyeuristic freak-shows to humiliate the naive and deluded non-talent that it mostly presents. Oh and they generate bucketloads of cash through manipulative presentation for either the producers who get money from the inevitable phone in, or the judges who exclusively handle the briefly lucrative career of the hapless winner.

It's relentless. We're increasingly unable to distinguish talent from celebrity, knowledge from wisdom, style from substance, wit from vulgarity, science from religion and I suspect, eventually, our wife from a hat.

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