the co-opting of counterculture
Increasing numbers of Americans bought products like Volkswagens and, later, much more expensive Volvos "to demonstrate that they were wise to the game" and, ironically, "to express their revulsion with the artifice and conformity of consumerism."[from Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool] In this way, Madison Avenue cleverly made the values of the counterculture accessible and acceptable to middle America, and then pressed them into the service of consumerism.
- Giles Slade "Made to Break"
This he wrote in reference to the marketing campaign that led to the rise in popularity of the Volksvagen Beetle in the 60's.
This seems to happen over and over again. There is genius in marketing and capitalism in its ability to take symbols and imagery of whatever revolution might be happening and use them to sell you stuff like t-shirts and computers, deodorant and cigarettes. I wonder if those who struggle to change the world and the way that people think about it find themselves in an ongoing struggle to continually create new images and labels and words and symbols to race ahead of the ad copy or find themselves trying to fight fire with fire using the very same techniques to spread their word for their own purposes.
I suspect that my fascination with a book about the history of planned obsolescence is proof positive that I have grown up to be exceptionally dull. Literally, this book has caused me to miss my subway transfer on the way to work in the morning.