Hype vs. Authenticity
Image has, in many ways, superseded authenticity.
Or so we have thought. The reality is this is just the evolution (and potentially death) of marketing.
If you ask a group (any group) of people if society is too heavily influenced by marketing and media, I would guarantee you that they would agree with that statement. However, if you reconstruct that sentence, and ask them if they themselves individually are influenced and guided by the media, a larger percentage would deny this and say they are not. How is this contradiction possible? Well I’m glad you (and by you, I mean me) asked!
As a society, we have never been more privileged in regards to access to information and resources. We have the ability to progress to great heights, but are simply lacking in time. Right? Wrong. We are simply far too distracted with insignificant things in our lives. Sports, entertainment, politics, even education (how many people that you know go to university openly admit that a particular subject is a complete waste of time, and is only being done to complete a degree?).
Our time is wasted, and that is why we are stretched for it. We are led to believe that Gay marriage is somehow the biggest human rights issue of our generation, instead of poverty. You tell me what’s more important: a symbolic gesture to homosexuals to allow them to marry, or putting more pressure and emphasis on governments to stop people (including children) from dying all around the world (and in our backyard) from starvation and disease.
And yet, gay marriage is something that has been rammed down our throats through news, movies and music. It’s a complete distraction. And so are sports. Did it really matter in the scheme of things that Lebron left Cleveland for Miami? Does it matter Dwight Howard left for Houston? Of course not. But thanks to people (or companies) that could make money from it, they became widely discussed topics and completely overrated.
Life is complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. We need to simplify things and put them in the right priority. I mentioned earlier how we have an almost infinite (and yet still growing) number of resources thanks almost exclusively to the internet. But here is where the problem lies: how can we decipher what is accurate information out there and what is agenda motivated and driven? How can we interpret Lady Gaga, and see if it holds up in comparison to Martin Luther King. The answer is easy (but the execution isn’t) : It’s all about scepticism.
I used the example of Lady Gaga and Martin Luther King a second ago, and I can’t think of one reason to not elaborate on it here. Lady Gaga has been outspoken (but not isolated) in her views for equality for gay marriage. The difference is she, in my opinion, has created (or her record company) this perception to increase popularity and sales of her songs by endearing herself to this audience. If she truly was for equality, why stop with just gay marriage? Why not expand on to other areas of inequality such as gender, race, religion, class etc.? Now, let’s compare her to MLK. Dr Martin Luther Kind is commonly mistaken for just an activist for African Americans. This is simply not true. Listen to his I have a dream speech, or any other speech/ essay that he has produced, and you will see that he is inclusive of everyone in his vision of world peace. Race, religion, gender, you name it, he was pushing for equality for everyone.
This is why, nearly 50 years after his assassination, Dr Martin Luther King is still held in such high regard. This is also why, Lady Gaga’s work, art, whatever you want to call it, will not be remembered 5 years from now.
This is the result of the battle between image vs. authenticity, my friends. This is the biggest reason why newspapers and television are dying forms of media, and the internet is thriving.
Marketers know that we know what they’re trying to do. They are completely desperate to still create these perceptions of legitimacy and authenticity that they have resorted to extremely dirty (subliminal) tactics to try and promote their products, shows or songs, and to be completely honest, our intelligence has been insulted. Are we really meant to believe that this guy that claimed that Demi Lovato uses auto tune wasn’t in fact an actor and this wasn’t completely scripted to generate hype? Are we really meant to ignore the preferential treatment that Lebron James receives in the NBA as they market him as the next great player in league history? Are we supposed to believe that Justin Bieber was discovered on youtube by chance by Usher, when there are countless other talented performers that simply can’t get a break on there? Are meant to ignore the coincidence that the “controversy” regarding Miley Cyrus’ twerking happened just before the release of her new song?
I could literally list hundreds of examples here.
There’s an old saying, but it’s a good one: “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Eventually, people will see through all the bullshit, and be demanding authenticity instead of hype. And marketers, won’t realise until it’s literally too late. The world has changed, and instead of adapting and realising that people actually want some substance to their products rather than hype, they have gone even more extreme to try and manipulate interest.
The squeaky wheel does get the oil. That’s true. But after a while, if it keeps squeaking, eventually the owner will replace it. It’s just a matter of time before this ugly era or hype will fall, just like newspapers essentially have and T.V. will as well.