Are unpublished writers necessarily artists in the ideal sense? Or might their speculative efforts also serve a practical purpose by promoting their very survival? Words, like other symbolic toolsets, allow people to understand their environment just as cave paintings aided primitive man. Whether a particular understanding is sound or unsound remains a matter for debate, but understanding itself surely acts as a control mechanism, individually and as Foucault posited, collectively. Read more
Her bare legs wrap around his denim-clad waist. He grasps her hips on the tailgate of an old pickup truck. But this is no spontaneous encounter. The moment has been meticulously framed. Surrounding the backside of a lean male we see a small section of surfboard, a hint of nearby ocean, a lock of female hair, and the text “#Equipped to be true” inserted across the bumper like a virtual sticker, forever on top of the imagery. Instead of sweetening the seaside, a location synonymous with romance, Levi’s paints a gritty, down-home picture. An alternative idealization stakes its claim as the genuine article. Read more
Looking for love, or just a casual affair? Match.com claims that 1 in 5 relationships begin online. True or not, the current proliferation of dating websites and apps is undeniable. Amorous directories such as 100BestDatingSites.com vouch for the industry’s growth and demographic granularity. From the squeaky clean eHarmony.com to the purely carnal AdultFriendFinder.com to the off-center Meet-An-Inmate.com, online matchmaking services have generated an unprecedented phenomenon in human history: a mega-marketplace for personal relationships. Read more
As the market for smartphones continues to expand, so does the range of mobile accessories available to consumers. Duracell’s Powermat provides wireless charging and supplies backup power to a variety of popular devices. It’s a handy product. It’s also subject to an ad campaign that conflates electric energy with personal power, delivering a mixed and somewhat uncomfortable message. Read more
Cultural normality is an elusive phenomenon but a powerful force.
One meaning of this statement, the meaning I intend, hinges on the word normality. And one meaning of this word is: anything common or regular. But I infer a latent or perhaps more essential meaning from the standard definition. I create a redefinition:
Normality—that which goes generally unnoticed.
Based on this interpretation, cultural normality eludes culture at large. Therein lies its power; we cannot question the particulars of environment or behavior when those variables escape our attention. Once a set of cultural values becomes normal, people with vested interests in those values can exercise power, structure society, and maintain the consent that brings order. Read more
Mention the Forbes Global 2000 (formerly the Forbes 500) and most people acknowledge its respectability. The publication itself, however, reads like a People magazine for the American Dream. In a section named Leaderboard, the products of 44 billionaires form a narrative that relates “a day in the life” of an ostensibly successful person. The unintentional farce strikes the astute reader as woeful. What constitutes this day? Routine, distraction, caffeinating, consuming, and indulging. In short, habitual decadence. No mention of creativity, reflection, cooperation, let alone charity. Wait, a Cartier ring is found and returned to its owner. Redemption after all. Read more