The New Bank of X – My other bank account is a Vector (This cultural perspective has been removed by the user.) #newbankofx #bolamat50

Gustave Dore - The Fifth World v2.005

Recently, I asked my mother “Is it an age thing, or is the world really getting more stupid?”. She just replied “yes”. No kidding, every day I am surprised at just how unbelievably crass, uneducated and uncritical many of my fellow human beings are.

Much more worrying, to me at least, is the familiarity of certain cultural tendencies to a previous period in living memory, a period that those of us who remember it had hoped that it had been rendered to history.

Yes, the nineteen-eighties.

I’m not talking about the un-ironic, cheesy music, or the big hair, or the power dressing. No, I’m talking about the cultural vacuum of the Thatcher-Reagan years that became occupied by the four horsemen of the hypeocalypse that are aspiration, competition, acquisition and consumption.

I won’t go on about the John Lewis 2014 Christmas advert again, you can read about that in my previous post here.

However, Sainsbury’s genuinely surprised me with this mawkish plundering of what you might have not unreasonably thought was an untouchable piece of public property.

Not so, Vampire Marketing PLC have no shame whatsoever. The timing might be irresistible, but using the 1914 Christmas truce to preach to us that “Christmas is for sharing” whist trying to sell you some more shit that you just don’t need is a step too far. It seems as though, despite the prominence of the First World War on its centenary, some organisations could not help themselves from plundering a few foreign fields for the sake of a bit of marketing edge.

So, do you think my disgust at the excessive commercialization and a perceived abuse of taboos is just an age thing? Are these people all so young as not to know any better? Surely there will be some old farts in the decision-making chain to inject a little cultural perspective, a little taste?

Moving forward, there is something so bizarre about this next example that it is almost impossible to satirize, although someone has tried. If you can be bothered, please watch both but I advise watching the parody first.

#OnSet – Being a Cinematographer Parody.

Being a cinematographer.

I wonder if that music is by Moby? Probably.

It’s astonishing that an organisation that is trying to promote itself to a discerning audience will indulge itself in such disposable clichés. When will all these “dickheads” (I’m quoting Will Self there in order to lend little more credibility to my own indictment) realise that the hipster look is instantly passé. It is so jarringly affected that I find it difficult not to double-take every time I see one.

It’s not any one thing that’s wrong, it’s the whole combination that is monumentally stupid. The bushy beard is not a problem, but accompanied by a short-back-and-sides, it looks not just wrong, but like a genuine error. I’ve never worn a checked shirt, but again, I don’t have a problem with them. The turned-up jeans and the gay lumberjack boots are okay, I guess, and I don’t have a problem with the tattoos either, although I don’t have any myself.

But all of these signs together screams “I AM A PRETENTIOUS CUNT AND I NEED YOU TO NOTICE!”.

I genuinely do not know how this promo got approved by its commissioners. I would have laughed it out of the boardroom, sorry, coffee shop. I guess they just didn’t see what was wrong with it because are probably all pretentious cunts too.

It’s all very reminiscent of the eighties but not as well-dressed. We are also seeing a lot of that entrepreneur-fetishism as well, Not that it went away since the Thatcher years, but it’s becoming much more prominent again.

Having run a small business for several years, I know from experience that it is nothing like the clichés that are so often used. It’s just a debilitating, endless slog and it will probably shorten your life long before you get the chance to retire. Or at least that’s the way I ran my business.

However, the way John Hurt purrs about it in the Prime Location advert makes it sound quite romantic, although it’s not for any purpose other than to inspire doubt in your status so that you need to keep moving up that property ladder and paying agents’ fees.

I wonder if that music is by Moby? Probably.

But here is something else from the same stable, and this one is so monumentally fucked up as to be quite comical. It’s an online advert for Redrow London Luxury Apartments. I was a bit slow off the mark with this post (I’ve had a cold) and now they’ve pulled it, so the first link is now dead even before I got this online.

Screen shot 2015-01-06 at 22.13.34

I think I must have seen it first via this link.–e11dUJmBqe

Here is the same thing but uploaded by someone called Patrick Bateman.

I wonder if that music is by Moby? Probably.

And here it is again, this time with Patrick Bateman’s narration from “American Psycho”. It hardly needs it.

You might also find it here:

The narration sounds like it wants to poetic. Maybe the writer thinks that it is poetry. Maybe that is what poetry will be like in our dystopian future, just a string of pseudo-philosophical musings arranged in a familiar pattern and delivered by a reassuring voice in order to make it sound, if not literally, then symbolically aspirational.

I wonder if that music is by Moby? Probably.

This reminds me of those Midland Bank “Vector” adverts from the 1980s. For those of you too young to remember the late eighties and early nineties, this kind of facile smugness sums up a whole decade that defined the culture of style over substance. That was the world that introduced into common parlance the words “branding”, “marketing” and “lifestyle”. That was the world that eventually produced the likes of Patrick Bateman.

That’s right, there was a time before universal branding. Sounds alien doesn’t it? But I remember a time when the only prominent branding on clothing was on sportswear and no-one would dream of walking down the street with “Superdry” or “Bench” or “Emporio-fucking-Armani” emblazened on their kebab-amplified chest. We were all thinner then too, but that’s another story.

Younger brother

They may look dated now but this was top drawer advertising at the time.

However, the Redrow advert either plumbs a new depth or scales a new height (depending on your outlook) in promoting vacuous aspiration. What I find quite breathtaking is the emptiness of the promise.

I realize it’s quite trendy (in some circles) to deride the conspicuous consumption but I genuinely think that imbeciles have been given a commission. How can anyone produce something like that and not understand how ridiculous it is, how ludicrous, and what a PR disaster it is bound to be. Someone probably got paid a lot of money for this, probably the same fucking hipster as featured in the EFTI cinematographer promo.

I couldn’t find it on their website and the original Vimeo link is now dead, and this just popped up on The Independent website.

Although I didn’t perform any documentary exercise, I felt that the John Lewis ad seemed to fade away and so did the Sainsbury’s one. It might be normal marketing strategy or it might be that I was not watching the target tv channels, or it might have been due to my own withering critique (probably not), or it might just possibly be that they realised they had overstepped the mark. I guess we will find out next year when they launch their Christmas 2015 “event” advertisements.

So maybe there is a little hope, it might be that these people have finally stepped over the threshold where there is an outcry against the bullshit, the sheer crass stupidity of the culture of wanting more and more and more.

There’s more to come on this topic. Stand by…


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