Combat! blog has tended inexorably toward politics during the last year, since that is where the worst habits of the age are inflated to grotesques. In our fixation on all things governmental, it’s easy to forget that politics is only one subset of a larger world, and a subset whose lineaments exist only in our understanding, at that. In fact, politics and popular culture and bears and ethnomusicology are all names we have given to elements of one seamless, coherent whole, and that whole is just as stupid and baffling as everything else, which is nothing. This Friday’s linktacular is largely about popular culture, and if you think politics are dispiriting, have a look at those portions of society run by people who are too lazy to keep up with politics. It’s Friday; the week is almost end; up is down; wrong is right and things that should make us angry give us strange pleasure. Unbuckle your seat belt and rest your teeth gently on the dashboard, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
We here at Combat! blog have criticized the trend reporting at the New York Times in the past, but all is forgiven with today’s fascinating piece about marketers’ rampant use of the word “love.” Okay, not all is forgiven—we’re still pissed about their expose on the horrors of the Park Slope Food co-op—but at least this one has some verifiable information. It turns out that the Times is at its best when it’s writing about advertising, and advertising is at its best when it’s convincing you that the most profound human emotional experience can be replicated by using a Blackberry. Car manufacturers seem to be the biggest purveyors of sweet nothings, here, with Honda, Subaru and Nissan all launching love-oriented ad campaigns in the last two years. The notion of people loving their cars is nothing new. Your car represents freedom, self-sufficiency, responsibility and socio-economic status, as anyone without a car will tell you. Anyone without a girlfriend will make a similar argument, so the connection between cars and love seems obvious—especially if you are dead inside. Consider the rationale offered by Michael Kuremsky, Vice President and Global Brand Franchise Leader at Olay: “We view Olay as a partner alongside women, so the emotional connection is Olay validating to a woman that we want to help her achieve her best skin, to get to a place where she loves her skin.” Tonight, darling, I will take you on a carriage ride around Central Park and validate that I want to partner alongside you in achieving your best handjob, ever.