Good evening, ATS. I present a thread to you in an attempt to help you see things the way I see them. To get quite personal rather quick, this is a
topic that is very dear to my heart, and I believe the importance of it is under stressed. I firmly believe that the very topic I am about to discuss
plays a crucial role in the situation of the United States of America, and thus the entire rest of the world. Please take what you will, and feel free
I will never forgot one of the most useful things that my English teacher made us do in one of my Grade 12 English classes. He made us watch a PBS
Frontline Documentary called "Merchants of Cool". In summary, it was an entertaining yet depressing peek into the corporate world of American and
global media. I will post an online link to it later. However, I will never forget how well it solidified my deepest beliefs: The American consumerist
attitude must stop, and it must stop at the top.
Now, this statement may sound harsh, especially to those proponents of Laissez-faire capitalism and you minimalist-government libertarians, but the
point of this thread is to maybe help you see otherwise (despite my aspirations to become an Economist). Let me get to my argument.
Putting things in perspective: The teenager's market
According to a Teens Market
done by Packaged facts, American teenagers will make up an estimated market of $208.7 billion USD
in 2011. In comparison with the
United States' 2008 estimate of Gross Domestic Product, teenagers make up 1.4493% of the entire American Gross Domestic Product.
That may not
sound like a lot initially, but just think about it for a minute: Even one percent of the world's largest economy is a lot of capital and wealth. A
The estimated 2011 expenditure of American teenagers is bigger than the entire nominal GDP's of Nigeria, Israel, and 137 other countries in the
rest of the world.
It is also about the equivalent of 14% of Canada's GDP.
As you can see, this is a massive market to say the least. Think about it. You are a teenager or a preteen. You most likely go to school and have a
part time job or parents who hand you money. You have next to no bills. You have next to know autonomous expenditure, and no incentive to save. You
have some of the largest disposable income in the nation.
Any Capitalist would be smart to tap into this gold mine of disposable income, and thus any initial investment and startup cost for the sake of
tapping into this market is worth it's weight in eventual returns, multiple by one-hundred. Indeed, we see this happening, and for good reason.
The fight for market control
If you look straight at the very tip of corporate America, you will see seven monster corporations. It would be safe to assume that since these
corporations dominate the mass media, they dominate what ever you see and hear that is on the television, any advertising, the radio, etc. These seven
corporations may very well rule your life (I use "you" in an arbitrary form):
AOL Time Warner
Now, I do not want to bore you with going in depth into each of these companies, and I will even admit that I do not have sufficient knowledge to
scrutinize all of them thoroughly, but I will say this: These are the best of the best. They influence your daily lives more than you could ever
But I would like to go indepth with Viacom, and more specifically, MTV. I am sure many of you have heard of the music, drama, and video channel, but
if you have not, you can find it's website here: MTV
. Essentially, it is a television channel that started off with
playing music videos back in the 1980's, and eventually evolved into what I would classify (subjectively of course) as the pinnacle of American
teenage culture. No longer does music dominate it's programming, but teenage dramas taking place in fantasy lands, documentaries on 16 year olds
being pregnant, and a slew of other defining and what some may call degenerative teenage cultural promotion.
Indeed, some may disagree, but some may also agree that this channel correctly displays just want teenagers want. Sex, drugs, drama, ideal females,
ideal males, over-saturated material objectification, freedom from parents, tropical destinations, alcohol, and other "feel good" and objectified
desires. Of course, one may bring down that last statement with flak by emphasizing my negative connotation regarding teenagers preference, and that
is your own opinion. However, in the end, morales are not subjective. Extensive promiscuity, over-indulgence, and over-consumption are not healthy for
Although seemingly simple, displaying these concepts to teenagers on television and through other media is not as easy as simply choosing materialism
as your primary advertising concept. These large firms do extensive research on the populations they monitor and wish to reach. They do surveys, host
contests in all shapes and forms, throw parties, invite teenagers to private meetings with material incentives, have executives talk to teenagers
directly, sponsor events, and in general, invade the teenagers life in every media medium possible
Through this extensive and in-your-face research, corporations are able to develop and create exactly what teenagers want based on their input. In
return, they produce it, and teenagers buy it. With so many corporations involved, and with the concepts of modern economics, it's a massive battle
to say the least to stay on-top of the current culture to gobble up America's massive disposable income of teenagers.
Defining the culture
Teenagers are your future. There is no doubt about that. Teenagers will eventually replace all your CEO's, Politicians, White collar workers, blue
collar workers, unemployed, and homeless. This is basic logic.
Because teenagers are so vulnerable to finding their sense of self, they are easy to manipulate. They are a perfectly unstable market for a large
corporation that has the ability to make them stable through self-definition. Because corporations have such vast amounts of assets, resources, and
research divisions, such as the seven above, they can target these vulnerable masses and make them their own.
When this is successfully done, teenagers become associated with brands, products, and ultimately, a mass of people. What a teenager wants more
than anything in the world is to fit in.
If a corporation can give a teenager this very status in social society, the ability to fit in, it can
profit off of it.
Influence the masses, give them what they want. They buy it, they fit in. They fit in, they go along with you, they love you. You keep giving them
what they want, they keep fitting in, everyone wins.
If you can recognize this cycle, the cycle that states that large corporations have the power to make teenagers stable within their own products, it
is not a stretch to say that corporations can define and build a culture. When corporations have this ability, they define a people. People become
simply consumers because it feels good, they become selfish. They strive to buy "the next best thing" because they can, because they are told what
they want, and that is what they want.
The key: Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. People consume out of their own free will. However, people, specifically teenagers, are easily
manipulated into being told what they wanted.
Continued next post: