Dorks. That big, fat and irritating coca-cola advertisement is still doing the rounds. Do people even stop to think? Oh. Stupid question. Just goes on to show the pervasiveness and the power of the media in general and advertising in particular. To influence “people” and societies in all the wrongs ways, most of the time. If there are two professions that need regulation, it is these. Especially that whore of capitalism, consumerism, whatever, called advertising. Scratch that, even the media in equal portions. Speaking of which, yours truly has just – after years of scouring shelves and streets – laid hands on Pohl and Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants. A harsh critique-cum-parody-cum-satire on advertising. About a world that is run (for all practical purposes) by ad agencies. Where your standing is defined by your ability to own. About a world divided into two: the haves and the have-nots. About a consumer-driven society gone horribly wrong, which anyway is the fate of any such society. Anyway reading has just begin, full review later.
The copy of The Space Merchants i just got happens to an old 1981 edition (the book was written in 1952, which makes its prescience even more so prophetic), prominently stamped “DISCARD” by The Harrisburg Union High School’s Instructional Media Center (hmmm… instructional media center).
And this is what precedes the book in the ‘raving reviews’ pages. The St. Louis Dispatch gets it down pat – “…a bitter satire on the conscienceless activities of the ad men…” Kingsley Amis, “The Space Merchants, clearly, is an admonitory satire on certain aspects of our own society, mainly economic…” “In The Space Merchants, we have some of the best satire of our times; it has The Hucksters beat us all hollow.” That was the Denver Post. This is what The New York Times had to say “…a civilisation built on the code of the huckster, where the account executive is king, and the captive audience is just that—a mass of helpless, hapless serfs, living by the law of the singing commercial.” See what advertising can reduce us to? And I stress, this book was written in ’52. A classic I’m sure it will turn out to be. Huck! I guess it already is one.
“Give me the airtime, and I will sell the Earth.”