Collusive Influence
Distributed Commerce

Advertising Elegy

Who are your heroes?

My heroes are the people from whose thoughts and words I began to construct my own belief system, my world view.

The geniuses I stole from.

[World view is a calque [or stolen piece of linguistic genius] from German. They have this word Weltanschauung. It's a Teutonic concept that is quite useful so lots of languages, and philosophers, have stolen it. It basically means the framework of beliefs and ideas through which you perceive the world, how you parse reality.]

One of my heroes just died.

George Carlin was one of the great stand ups and thinkers of our time.

[If you haven't come across him: rejoice for there is much joy ahead of you should you seek out his work and despair that there is no more of it. However, you may remember him from such roles as Rufus in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. If you have never come across that, there is no hope for you.]

Alongside other charming iconoclasts like Bill Hicks and Kurt Vonnegut, Carlin is one of the people who helped me understand some of the things I believe to be important, who helped me piece together my stolen Weltanschauung. 

Above is Carlin's Advertising Lullaby - one of his most famous bits.

[His most famous was probably Religion is Bullshit - check it out here.]

Those of you that know Hicks and Carlin may also be aware that they reserved a significant portion of their hilarious but heartfelt vitriol for advertising. 

[Hicks implored marketing professionals to commit suicide immediately.]

For a long time I found this difficult to resolve with what I do.

I would use F. Scott Fitzgerald as my get out clause:

The art of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing thoughts in mind at the same time while still retaining the ability to function.

I believe this is true.

[When someone seems very certain of the veracity of one side of a complex argument, I tend to look nervously for a conversational exit.]

But perhaps more importantly, I think we should consider the extreme views of advertising contained in the words of Hicks and Carlin, the critique of intent and tonality, and allow them to drive us to make it better.