Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Christmas is coming: The annual lust fest is upon us!
When I was young, there was a well known poem we used to recite:
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
if you haven't got a ha'penny, god bless you!
Nowadays, it isn't only the geese that are getting fat, the annual consumption bonanza that is still laughingly refereed to as Christmas, makes a lot of people fat in the advertising, marketing and production worlds. And many of us are seduced into this mass illusion, hook, line and sinker.
I rarely watch TV, so don't know precisely what the date the first Christmas advert appeared this year. I saw my first on 30th October, and every time I've watched a programme on a commercial channel since, the commercial breaks have been taken over by an orgy of unadulterated lust, where we are overwhelmed by all of the tricks, the advertising world has at its disposal to make us go forth and spend, spend, spend!
We're easily seduced by the whole plethora in their psychological armoury, and aroused into a sate of frenzied desire and greed. Marketing men know how to appeal to our every base instinct, in order to get us to succumb to spending our money; they target our emotions of lust and guilt, the guilt we will surely feel if we deny child/mother/brother/partner, the latest techno gizmo. They play on our sense of pride too; they know most of us will want to buy a certain product if Ms Jones down the road is also getting one.
The black arts of psychological advertising were first developed after the last world war, when psychologists come into the field and advised the 'ad' men about the best ways to make commercialism into a religion, an ego trip of consumption, so was born the 'shopaholic.' Psychology is put to many uses in marketing, In 1957, Vance Packard’s book 'Hidden Persuaders,' described how the marketing industry used depth psychology and motivational research to manipulate the public.
Fifty years later, marketing’s persuasive role is generally accepted as part and parcel of the neo-liberal economic agenda. Even so, residual suspicion of marketing’s psychological influence remains, and not only from those repelled by the coercive strategies of big business. Marketing techniques are blamed for rising childhood obesity and alcohol misuse, not to mention cigarette-related disease, the decline in public manners and countless other social ills from avarice to anorexia. The subtext of this criticism is that marketing’s effect is psychological because it influences people to do things that harm themselves and others.
I love Christmas, a time to visit relatives, relax with loved one, listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and many other such treats. But our Christmas begins around the 17th of December, where we start to make our own cards, presents and food. I'm not a Christian, yet appreciate the religions aspect of this time of year; a time to celebrate the coming of a very great enlightened one.
In our home, we don't deck the halls with the commercial and artificial, but head out into the woods and fields for our trimmings. People tend to be jollier too as this time of year. A shame that this feeling of brotherly love and peace cannot be maintained for the rest of the year! It could if we would only let go of our hopes and expectations, but that is another story!
Whereas Christianity originally appropriated from the Pagans, so in its turn, capitalism has appropriated the festival from the Christians.
I don't want to seem the archetypal Mr Scrooge here, and in the past I've been seduced many times too, by the guiles of slick marketing, but in these hard economic times, is it really sensible to go out and buy a load of packaged junk, most of which ends upon a land fill in a matter of weeks? Just for the sack of 'pleasing our nearest and dearest. Be brave, stand up to the persuaders and just say no!
Bah, humbug, A merry Christmas to all of you. xx