News from the commercial front: trends, sell-outs, oddities of consumerism

Will the virtual Slim Shady please stand up? Forget MTV: more and more pop stars are choosing to debut their soon-to-be-hit singles on video games. Like pop-punkers Good Charlotte, whose "Anthem" was featured in the game Madden NFL 2003, Blink-182 will use the game's 2004 edition to premiere their song "Action." Hip hop star Fabolous went a step further; he used video-game maker Electronic Arts' ad motto as the title of the single "It's in the Game," which appears in NBA Live 2003. But for some stars, even that's not enough: celebrities from Jon Bon Jovi, Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne to game show host Alex Trebek and rapper Ludacris are negotiating with video game makers, including the maker of The Sims, to include their digitized likenesses in the games. Eminem's Slim Shady should be a game character early next year.

Sending out non-recyclable promotional CDs was once the sole domain of AOL, but now free CDs are, er, popping up everywhere—including in soft drink cup lids. The LidRock company produces CDs for independent record labels then embeds them into the lids of disposable soda cups at movie theaters. In one case, some 4.8 million of pop singer Rachel Farris' CDs will be distributed at Regal Entertainment Groups' 530 theaters in 36 American states. Such enhanced CDs, including music, videos and sometimes interviews, have been used by Acuvue contact lenses, Pepsi campaigns in Spain and Latin America eventually adding more than 2.5 million CDs to landfills. (Nomoreaolcds.com, founded in 2001, aims to deliver a million AOL CDs—a stack three times larger than the Empire State Building—to the company in protest of the free-CD practice. So far, they've collect 193,331 CDs.)

I See You. Since 9/11 we've seen an explosion in anti-terrorism technology, from advances in biometrics and recognition software to the installation of some 30 permanent surveillance cameras in downtown Minneapolis (donated by Target Corporation to police the 22-block region surrounding their corporate HQ). But the mother of all surveillance tools might be the touchy-feeling sounding LifeLog project currently being developed by the US government's DARPA. An "ontology-based (subsystem)," LifeLog tracks every aspect of a person's interactions with the world using "a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audio-visual sensors to capture what he or she sees or says, and biomedical monitors to keep track of the individual's health," according to Wired. While participation in the program is voluntary, civil libertarians are wondering what the applications might be. If the intent is to create behavioral profiles to help weed out potential terrorists, make sure your morning latte run and leisurely park-bench rendezvous with the daily paper don't coincide with Saddam's.

Net worth. With the internet overrun by corporations--a 2001 study by Jupiter Media Matrix determinded that 14 companies control 60% of users online time (down from 110 companies in 1999)--the future of independent online media doesn't look good. FCC media bureau head Ken Ferree announced last week that there's no need to impose rules preventing broadband internet providers from altering or entirely blocking out content created by its competitors. So, if Eyeteeth pisses off AOL Time Warner, there's nothing to stop them from keeping my site off of AOL altogether. Something hopeful: the Ninth Court of Appeals ruled recently that bloggers deserve libel protection, since blogs repost already available material and, thus, consist entirely of commentary (i.e. speech). Take that, AOL.

You're the man. Or not. According to The Guardian, trend-spotter Marian Salzman coined the term "wigger" (a white surburban hip-hop fan) and predicted the resurgence of '70s fashion. Let's hope she's not right about this catchword: the "metrosexual man"--target market (and wuss) extraordinaire. I quote: "marginalised by the women's movement, portrayed as useless in TV sitcoms and told by scientists that his Y-chromosome is in decline [he] is worth millions to marketers. Advertisers, she argues, will soon be capitalising on his low self-esteem and targeting him with products to 're-empower' him. Meanwhile, you can recognise metrosexual man, says Salzman, by the fact that he's increasingly family-focused and struggling to adopt female characteristics in a world in which gender traits are converging. 'The definition of what it means to be male and middle-aged is changing... tits and arse will be replaced with appeals to men's minds; the laddish must give way to the sensitive. I don't think companies realise how much men have changed.'"

For balance: I've posted it before, but here--again--is an excerpt from Wendell Berry's brilliant poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

No comments: