All posts in Culture

Patagonia: Buy Less, Reuse More, Recycle

This morning was discouraging, until I watched this video. I know I’m a bit late to the game on this; but it’s still worth writing about.

As I looked at this morning’s top industry headlines, I once again felt like advertising is the annoying kid at the party clamoring desperately for people’s attention. Shoes that make music, innovative uses QR codes, brands going on hugely expensive road trips – all for the sake of convincing people to buy more stuff. It’s satiating and unsustainable. Then I saw this article:

Many consumer goods companies have environmental initiatives. Think of Dell’s e-waste recycling program, for example. Or P&G’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Or the Chevy Volt, even.

But, as laudable as these are, you might argue that they are secondary to a larger problem. All these companies still want us to buy more products. If a consumer goods company truly wanted to be sustainable, they might suggest that we consume a little less, or at least price their goods at a cost that reflects their true impact.

Couldn’t agree more! One of the core reasons I’m in advertising is to help reduce consumerism. How that works itself out is messy and often murky at best. Sometimes it’s in small adjustments to a piece of work, sometimes it’s in large adjustments to a brand’s purpose. Either way, it’s an uphill (but worthwhile) battle.

Occasionally, something like Patagonia’s Common Threads initiative comes along and blows the lid off the whole thing. It’s not just a small win, it’s not merely a minor tweak; it’s a huge shift resulting in a moment of beauty. I know that language could be seen as hyperbolic, but I genuinely find this idea and the videos associated with it to be a thing of beauty.

Patagonia’s Common Threads from Dokument Films on Vimeo.

Teenage Brains – From National Geographic Magazine

Although you know your teenager takes some chances, it can be a shock to hear about them.

One fine May morning not long ago my oldest son, 17 at the time, phoned to tell me that he had just spent a couple hours at the state police barracks. Apparently he had been driving “a little fast.” What, I asked, was “a little fast”? Turns out this product of my genes and loving care, the boy-man I had swaddled, coddled, cooed at, and then pushed and pulled to the brink of manhood, had been flying down the highway at 113 miles an hour.

“That’s more than a little fast,” I said.

He agreed. In fact, he sounded somber and contrite. He did not object when I told him he’d have to pay the fines and probably for a lawyer. He did not argue when I pointed out that if anything happens at that speed—a dog in the road, a blown tire, a sneeze—he dies. He was in fact almost irritatingly reasonable. He even proffered that the cop did the right thing in stopping him, for, as he put it, “We can’t all go around doing 113.”

He did, however, object to one thing. He didn’t like it that one of the several citations he received was for reckless driving.

“Well,” I huffed, sensing an opportunity to finally yell at him, “what would you call it?”

“It’s just not accurate,” he said calmly. “ ’Reckless’ sounds like you’re not paying attention. But I was. I made a deliberate point of doing this on an empty stretch of dry interstate, in broad daylight, with good sight lines and no traffic. I mean, I wasn’t just gunning the thing. I was driving.

“I guess that’s what I want you to know. If it makes you feel any better, I was really focused.”

Actually, it did make me feel better. That bothered me, for I didn’t understand why. Now I do.

I frequently drove 100+ mph as a teen. These days, I consider that to be not so smart (I also don’t own a car anymore). My changed outlook worries me. Is “getting old” an inevitable part of getting older?

The research cited in this article is a fascinating explanation of what happens in teens brains as they evolve, and how “getting older” doesn’t have to mean “getting old.” I don’t necessarily agree with all of his premises or conclusions, but it’s a very interesting article.

Posted via email from Josh Chambers’s Posterous

This Basically Sums Up Facebook

Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological theory, by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally diverse society can be dominated (ruled) by one social class, by manipulating the societal culture (beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values) so that its ruling-class worldview is imposed as the societal norm, which then is perceived as a universally valid ideology and status quo beneficial to all of society, whilst benefiting only the ruling class.

Posted via email from Josh Chambers’s Posterous

The Pursuit of Happiness – The Atlantic

“Dr. George Vaillant, director of a 72-year Harvard study on aging, explains what makes people strive for fame and why dirty laundry symbolizes a perfect life.”

Beautiful. Is it any surprise that pursuing things for oneself only does not bring happiness? Definitely worth the 7 minutes.

Thanks to Good Magazine for this article.

Posted via email from Josh Chambers’s Posterous

MTV Reinvents Itself for the Millennial Generation – NYTimes.com

Under the new guard, flashy reality shows are out — “The Hills,” once a flagship franchise for MTV, wrapped up last summer — and a new buzzword, “authenticity,” is in. It is shorthand for a new “filter” for MTV’s programming decisions.

… Mr. Friedman, the former head of MTV’s college channel mtvU, was put in charge of MTV in 2008, after Christina Norman departed to take over Oprah Winfrey’s forthcoming cable channel. He said he sensed that “reality was starting to feel really unreal to our audience,” citing the show “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.” No one believed Ms. Hilton would actually find her new best friend through a reality show.

“They were inspirational, authentic stories,” Mr. Toffler said. The channel saw a way forward, and most of its new reality shows, like “The Buried Life,” “World of Jenks” and “If You Really Knew Me,” share that DNA.

… As a result of MTV’s research about the millennial generation, Mr. Toffler and Mr. Friedman said they had come away thinking that teenagers and twentysomethings nowadays were less rebellious than those in the past. They are not rebelling against their parents so much as they are watching TV with their parents.

… “The times when our network has been one-note,” Ms. McGrath said, “have never been as good as the times when we were diverse.

A few excerpts from an interesting article. MTV was inarguably a huge culture producer for Gen-X, but it’s lost it’s impact on Gen-Y.

With all this focus on authenticity, it begs the question: Can you manufacture authenticity?

I’m not necessarily suggesting that’s what MTV is up to; but it’s a question I think we should be asking at large.

Manufactured authenticity, it would seem to me, would be more deadly than fakery.

Posted via email from Josh Chambers’s Posterous