Monday, October 28, 2013

The Greatest Soul Ever Prostituted.

I just watched and enjoyed Morgan Spurlock’s “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” about advertising and product placement in the movies. Such product placement has always spoiled movies for me: when there’s a Coke machine or MacDonalds in shot, I no longer suspend my disbelief in the story and just see it as so much contrived hogwash.

My whole life I’ve been annoyed by the ubiquitous wall to wall commercials in city living: on buses, revolving billboards, football fields, dim-wits' T-shirts, on every damned step one walks up, every fucking where, nowhere is sacred. They don’t call them brand-names for nothing, logos get branded upon one’s fore-brain as if by a branding iron by the sheer number, tenacity and cleverness of their application. I feel like I’m violated, physically and spiritually, drinking in corporate crap when moving across the city, when turning on any piece of technology, even when dressing, eating and shitting. I’m the same as the protagonist in William Gibson’s novel, “Pattern Recognition”, who feels intense nausea at the sight of any brand-name, so averse to designer logos she cuts them off her clothes, turns away at the sight of a Starbucks, and is creeped out by any product signifier such as a toy Michelin man.

You might have noticed that there is no advertising on my Blog though Google has been offering it to me for years; poor and starving as I am, I just can’t bring myself to sell my soul and sully my site with commercial crap around the edges. I’ve discovered there are other Internet sites hosting my Blog or with my tales on their list of favorite Blogs and they have shit-head advertising cluttering their pages, making a living from my hard work, but what can I do about it? I don’t like it at all, it seems out of my power, and at least they provide a link to more readers all around the world, I guess I’ve got to be thankful for the promotion. Still, believe me, they do it without my permission, and I hate product placement, to me it’s prostituting my soul.

For instance, the latest movie that was ruined for me by the egregious brain-fuck of product placement was “Rush”, the racing car shlockbuster directed by Ron Howard. Okay, back in the ‘70s, racing cars had sponsors who had their logos plastered all over the cars and overalls, (and still do), and Niki Lauda, or was it James Hunt, really did have Marlboro radiating like a giant eyesore from his tail-fin. But every scene of "Rush" had someone puffing up on the noxious cancer sticks, pitstop crew, racing-fans and, most particularly, the star, Chris Hemsworth, who never had a fag out of his gob. At one point, while making a speech on receiving some award, he reached down to an audience member’s table and snatched up their cigarette and exclaimed, “I need that more than you!”

What a shameless whore! Millions of sufferers and cancer deaths for millions of dollars, what a father-fucking business! As cigarette advertising is banned from all public space and most media, movies are the last frontier left to showcase the poisonous products. There are innumerable movies with many so-called respected actors lighting up, all for filthy lucre, it’s fucking sick; why don’t they go the whole hog and also advertise crack with a sexy siren puffing on a crack-pipe? Marlboro must’ve approached Ron Howard with “a great idea for a movie”, one that perfectly represents the ideal of “the Marlboro man”, tough, brave, dangerous, masculine: racing car drivers with fag logos all over them.

There's hardly a movie that doesn't have someone or everyone smoking cigs, going back 100 years, and believe me, I watch a zillion movies and look out for it and I'm down to only a couple of costume dramas wherein tobacco wasn't fashionable yet. Even in many of those some old yob lights up a pipe. It's as if the tobacco companies also own the movie companies, or vice versa.  And most actors are probably offered extra dosh, and plenty of plum roles in future projects, if they light up, with the excuse that it will fit the time-period of the movie. But it's fucking ubiquitous bullshit!

Audrey Hepburn and everybody else smokes continuously in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" but as she ordinarily smoked three packs a day and died of appendix cancer I suppose it explicable, making smoking as chic as the little black dress. The noble Angelina Jollie smokes in "SALT". The astronauts smoke inside the spaceship in "Aliens". In "Monument Men" George Clooney bribes a German prisoner of war into betraying his country for a packet of Chesterfields, all the while Cate Blanchett is making rollies and picking tobacco off her lips as a piece of show-biz shtick. Set in World War 2, in "Their Finest" everybody walks around smoking non-stop, to relieve their tensions, even the lead actress whose character could easily have been the one healthy girl who didn't smoke. In "A Cure for Wellness" the Dane  character has been chewing Nicorettes much of the time hoping to give up cigarettes. When incarcerated in a sanatorium and chased by the thug male nurses, he steals a packet of fags, hides in a store-room and thankfully drags down on a cig, in great satisfaction and relief of tension. 

These are just a few examples, it's just about in every dam movie, they don't need billboards, television ads, fancy packaging, for the glamour of movies suck us in nicely. I am going on about this like a cat with its balls cut off because I am forever trying to give up tobacco, I've tried 21 times and right now I'm back to smoking my own rollies, around 10 a day. And when I succeed in abstaining for 6 months I to the movies and get drawn into the sight of movie stars posing with a cigarette, their pleasure and style entrances me, and the next time I'm tense I light up. This is killing me, as well as millions of others!

I just witnessed the height of absurdity for tobacco product-placement in the movie "Ghost in the Shell": in a high tech laboratory of robotics and cybernetics, that should have been a dust-free environment, the lead scientist is standing over her gear with a giant cigarette blowing ash into all the fine machinery. And then she turns out to be a robot herself, so what's a robot doing smoking a fag? None of the other actors smoked, hopefully they refused, so this one woman must've been the only one willing and she ran with it for the extra money proffered. Of course my gripe got over-wrought in this movie as it depicts a near future where hologram-advertising hovers bewitchingly in every square inch of space from shop and sky-scraper facades to the thin air above the  buildings, like a nightmare hallucination.

Repeat, I hate advertising, the industry sums up all that’s fucked about this contemporary civilization we’re all stuck in, selling rubbish, most of which we don’t need, destroying the environment, with lies and false smiles. I recently read a book, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins, an economist sent into developing countries to con them into taking on debt they can’t afford. He revealed I’m not the loner flake I fear I could be and vindicates my anti-commercial attitude by factually reporting on the plundering, devastation and murder of much of the world by corporations in the name of profit. All those brand-names representing designer clothes, footwear, petroleum, construction co.s etc built on slavery, starvation, pollution, oppression; he encourages us all to disrespect the elites who own, run and represent it all, not to feel less than.

In “The Greastest Movie Ever Sold” Morgan interviews musicians who bitch on about getting coverage and audience by providing jingles for world-raping products, saying it’s a way to showcase their music to a bigger audience, that there’s no credibility without visibility, but I think they had that glazed look of fame-whores in their eyes, greed and ego-stroking causing them to kid themselves: they want the money, large amounts of it, as if it’s God’s bounty and they worship it. Private jets, limousines, designer rags, mansions, bling, pussy and cock on tap, good food to eat and eat and eat till they bloat up and explode. What the fuck! Most people, working hard, are confused, ignorant of the truths behind the products, lost in the downpour of consumer carrots dangled in their faces, they follow the mesmerizing twinkle of advertisements lighting up the fog, for they know in their hearts there is no moralizing god or afterlife in heaven, this life has to be squeezed of its juices as much as possible, even if it is only reconstituted, too bad for the rest of the planet.

I created “Toby Zoates” in 1978 as an anti-brand name, ripped off from a famous breakfast foodstuff here in Auz; I can't help but subvertize the cheesy sacred cow of the commercial world with satire and derision. It’s been the main theme of my art all these years and I’ve suffered because of it, no jobs, no good living, virtually starving, the govt. sponsored arts and/or corporatization of the arts killing me off. So be it, I’d rather be an ignominious bum than a whore. 

P.S. This rave is not calling for a "revolution" or overthrow of capitalism: given human nature it usually just swaps one tyranny for another. Without advertising I wouldn't get to watch any movies or have a modern society to live in, as Morgan Spurlock himself suggests, sharp satirist that he is, getting product placement to fund the $1.5 million budget of his documentary. History and civilization have brought us here, like a colossal bulldozer pushing us along, there's no turning back, what is, IS. I'm just saying brand-names, burnt into my eyeballs, make me nauseous and I don't want them on my Blog, if I can help it. In our own personal spaces we can resist whatever we don't like, that's my rebellious cry.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.