Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pimping yourself for fun and... fun?

I usually think of myself as a pretty young guy but, every now and then, I start to realize that I'm getting older. Sometimes this is because I find myself getting grumpy about college parties.* Other times it's because I realize I have no idea what musical groups are popular right now.** And sometimes it's when I find myself believing that undergrads today are batshit crazy.

Many of you, I'm sure, are already nodding your heads but in this case I'm referring to a specific cluster of phenomena. It's what I think of as an enhanced willingness to pimp oneself out for bargain basement prices. What does all this mean? Well, at a relatively innocuous level it started with the trend of wearing clothing that has manufacturer's names stamped across the front. This is, in short, brilliant as it's advertising that the company doesn't have to pay for. Better than that, the customer actually pays the company for the honor of advertising the product. Tres stoopid, as the French would say. This trend has not diminished in popularity but has, over time, morphed into something far worse- advertising oneself.

Don't know what I mean? Well, let me ask you this: have you seen students wandering around your local college campus during the warmer months? Of course you have. And have you seen them wearing shorts with slogans like "Juicy" slapped across their ass? Of course you have. Indeed, the fashion at many campuses has been tending towards a sort of crass sexualization that I find, frankly, mind boggling. I have even had conversations with other grad students- male and female- in which we all agreed that our students need to wear more damned clothing. It's not that I mind that my students come to class either looking like hobos or just plain hos, but I mind that my students come to class looking like hobos or just plain hos. And really, it's as though our students have converted themselves into walking showrooms- buffing and preparing themselves as though they're cars waiting on the sales lot. That said, no doubt my grandparents felt the same way when women started walking around with bare ankles, but I digress.

Interestingly, when I or other grad students have questioned some of our students about this we get some funny responses. Males I have asked about it pretty much just shut down and ask why I gotta be like that. Indeed, I am helpless before such scintillating rhetoric. Females, on the other hand, have a more involved explanation: now that women's liberation has triumphed completely*** it's an expression of personal power to dress like an uber-skank. I, like many of my female colleagues, am somewhat skeptical of this. And, more to the point right now, I tend to think it's just part of the overall trend towards commercializing our identities. If we have made ourselves commodities then why not commodify our sexuality completely? Why not apply labels to our various body parts to advertise their positive qualities, much as manufacturers do on the outside of their boxes? If our cereal is now fortified with 14 essential vitamins and minerals, why not inform the world that our ass is tight and clutch-worthy?

And as I have been thinking about all this, the world has moved on without me again. These two strains of self-pimpage have now merged into the startling entity of LoyalTV. What is LoyalTV? Well, it's effectively a YouTube dedicated to product reviews. Not such a bad idea except many of the reviews are more like commercials. And many of these commercials are a little... surprising. Take, for example, this commercial about toothpaste. Her main point, that it makes your breath fresh for at least ten hours isn't particularly novel... presenting it in her bra, however, is. Along similar lines, try this commercial for deodorant. Glad to hear that the product works for this young lady but, then again, she apparently doesn't labor under a BO problem.**** I think there was a time when companies had to pay women to run around scantilly clad in order to sell products- I certainly remember a number of beer commercials that implied that their product would magically summon hordes of bikini-clad teenagers- but this is a much better deal. The companies get commercials with sex-appeal and have to pay... absolutely nothing.

I don't have a problem with people doing this- it's their right after all- but I think it's a little bizarre that we've become so willing to commodify our own bodies and identities for so little no reward at all. But, hey, that's life. As I said, I'm getting older and maybe this is just my equivalent of yelling at those damned kids down the block to stop playing that Z.Z. Top nonsense. Time, I suppose, will tell.

But in the meantime, seriously folks, can we at least wear shorts that cover our entire ass when we come to class? There are things about you I just don't need to know.


* In fairness, when I was a college student I was grumpy about college parties. I just do not like people.

** Also in fairness, in my youth I didn't particularly like the popular groups. And yes, for the record, that includes Dave Matthews. Ugh.

*** Anyone who can read that with a straight face has a serious deficiency in their sense of the absurd.

**** Or a shirt.

Special thanks to Something Awful for making me aware of LoyalTV.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

It seems like I got to go to college at a relative trough of sexualization. Not that we were chaste or anything, but shapeless sweatsuits were the fashion of the day.

Anyway, after seeing this cool item on efforts to integrate circuitry with contact lenses just after your MacBook Air/Our Cyborg Future post, it struck me that mere reluctance to do crazy shit with one's body would not, in itself, hold back Our Cyborg Future. That task would go to the FDA, by virtue of its role in evaluating the safety of highly invasive implants. Otherwise, the 'I'll buy that for a dollar' attitude does seem to prevail.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 2:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

...also, there must be a dissertation in there for someone regarding the appropriation of production values from pr0n for marketing mainstream products via LoyalTV.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 3:35:00 PM  
Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

You're not old until you start thinking all young peoples' music sounds the same. And is too loud.

Friday, February 01, 2008 7:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Total Drek you should write something up about SocialVibe.com. ITs similar to LoyalTV and getting a lot of buzz, they just went public I believe today. It's a pretty interesting site.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 12:30:00 PM  

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