Das vogelfreie Proletariat
A firm called JWT Intelligence 'identify changes in the zeitgeist in order to convert shifts/challenges into compelling opportunities for our clients'. It would be horribly easy to mock, but that's exactly what Alain de Vulpian was doing for 40 years and his conclusions and JWT's aren't so radically different. They're just spoken rather differently. Here are two, for example, from JWT, which are also written about by de Vulpian in very similar terms:
"People are less concerned with conformity and more interested in self-expression. Consumers have gone from wanting to blend in to wanting to stand out. Cell phones, iPods and laptops have helped create personal worlds where media is immediately relevant only to the individual.
Today, “me” is eclipsing “we.” Key developments in business, technology and society are ... and driving a wedge between traditional communities and the individual: the rise in telecommuting, the fragmented media world and personal everything—from computers, mobile phones and music players to trainers, coaches and shoppers. We examine the rise of the “New Antisocial” and the impact of this trend on the market spaces in which brands play..."
But what's best is the technique that the copywriter at JWT has found for capturing our attention. It has to do with with picking a couple of extreme views or instantiations of popular prejudice or big names and then suggesting that somehow everybody else occupies a kind of dull mediocrity between the two. Like this:
"Somewhere in between the two pop culture extremes of Seth Rogen's free-spirited slacker in Knocked Up and real-life dot-com entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg is the Millennial at Work.
Somewhere in between the pop culture extremes of the rehab-renouncing, filthy-mouthed Amy Winehouse and the refined, polo-playing Prince William is the Millennial at Work."
Let's try it for ourselves:
Somewhere in between the two pop culture extremes of a terrier-faced German pope with an irritatingly whiney voice and Bond's latest conquest, the ineffably demure Strawberry Fields is Iran's President Ahmadinejad.
I think it works nicely. But that's a diversion. The thing that struck me was provoked by the fabulous What in the hell blog, which talks about das vogelfreie proletariat - a Marxian term that simultaneously describes and suggests alienation, poverty, lack of self-determination or personal power as well as freedom from constraint, birdiness and the ability to make some productive personal choices. Presumably somebody is saying that the current economic debacle, taken to its proper conclusion, could lead to us all finding our vogelfreedom again or, alternatively, make us all more malleable puppets of the capitalist politico-economic system as it emerges salamander-like from the flames. And presumably someone else is saying that the current debacle, like 9/11 was therefore the conscious creation of a bunch of mad Jewish Bush neoconmen aiming to steal all our houses and consumer goods and then sell them back to us after the crisis is over. I can't be bothered to scour the conspiracy theory blogs to see if this is true. Anyone know?