Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Traditional Family Values vs the Celebration of Youth

This is a long post, so I'll start it off with a fun ad. Third Arm.

Just an observation, but have you noticed how roughly half of the films and television shows that are in North America right now push traditional family values as their agenda.

A husband and wife, two and a half kids, two cars, a mortgage, suburbia, and the white picket fence.

The value system inherent is to protect your immediate family above all else, respect your neighbours, do unto others etc. The Christian ethic status quo.


Probably because there are people funding these films and television shows and newspaper articles that have enormous amounts of money invested in this concept. For various reasons:

It keeps the economy going.
It keeps the population under control.
It deters dissenters and would-be emperors.
Mostly, it keeps people shopping in a predicable way.

The primary purpose of an entertainment medium may be to attract a large audience. But once that audience is assured to producers, they will find investors seeking a return and this return is not always financial.

Ideological agendas keep the population functioning in a way that is controllable.

Now, before this all starts sounding a bit too conspiracy theory-ish, think of how shows are tailored to suit the needs of their advertisers.

My favourite thing to watch in movies is smoking. Within the first five minutes of a movie there is usually a strong divide as to whether smoking is glamourized or vilified in the film. Does this depend on the investment of tobacco companies? The same with gun control, alcohol, and the way the military is portrayed. Not to mention political points of view.

The other half of the films out there seems to revel in a system of values that celebrates youth. And this opens up a whole different slew of companies with their own agendas and products to push.

If you watch enough television you can get a sense for what side of divide the writers are on. Just a hunch, but the Simpsons has two teams, one for each.

Now, where do we tie into all this?

First off, gas and oil companies have an enormous investment in the way we currently live. They want us to drive around in cars. And they want us to use oil. The Americans make no bones about this, and admit that Kyoto would be economic suicide to the tune of $500 billion.

In Canada, we like to think that we are taking steps towards moving in a sustainable direction. But the truth is, the advertising budgets of green products and alternative fuels pale in comparison to their older, traditional counterparts. And we still need their money. So it’s kept out of the media mix. (Although the Sophisticated Briton may have something to say about this). After all, what gas or car company wants to invest in a program that discourages its sale?

So, what to do? How does one spread a sustainable idea in a world that is so divided?

Advertising? New media? Blogs? Let’s hear what you have to say.


At 2:16 p.m., Blogger molesworth said...

Regrettably, due to the lack of respect shown by fellow contributors, I will no longer be taking part in this blog.

As parting words, I leave you with a quotation from Globe and Mail columnist Heather Mallick, who famously described British journalists as "members of the most charming race on Earth, thanks to their humour and wit."


At 3:12 p.m., Blogger molesworth said...

I have three children, two cars and a house with a white picket fence. I am a moderate drinker of alcohol. I thought there was a degree of free will involved here, but after reading this blog, I realize I am but a puppet of commerce. Thank you for opening my eyes!

I shall be selling all my worldly possessions this weekend and taking my family to live in a yurt in Mongolia.

I wonder if Donald Rumsfeld will let me use his horse.

ps. Just spoke to my wife. She says tobacco advertising has been banned in the US since 1971 and in Canada since 1988, and suggests I should question your thinking a bit more critically. She did not sound too keen on the Mongolia move, and says we must talk about it this evening.

pps One other comment. Incumbents may try to preserve their role in a changing world, but there's another reason disruptive technologies tend to come from newcomers - just as the auto industry was dominated by startup Ford rather than Brewster Carriage. As Harvard's Clayton Christensen writes, incumbents focus their efforts on meeting customers' current demands (whether for gasoline or computers), so rather than develop transformational technologies, they use technology to improve current operations. Also, they're generally owned by investors with short-term horizons, meaning they're just not free to plough billions into unproven technologies. According to this theory, don't expect HP's research department to develop the technology that ends the need for toner cartridges. Expect BP to keep a close eye on fuel-cell technology, but not to provide the big breakthrough that takes the world "beyond petroleum." Does this mean BP's investments in solar power, or Shell's in hydrogen, are just a sham? No, it just means they won't be the ones to make the current system obsolete.

At 3:44 p.m., Anonymous Talula said...

Don't leave us sophisticatedbrit!
I look forward to your comments and frequently seach the blog for glimpses of your brilliance. I understand that the British are not only known for their humor and wit but also their sharp tongue and thick skin. I look forward to your future comments.


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