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Mon 05 Jun 2006
The Rebel Sell
Category : Commentary/TheRebelSell.txt
I hadn't done much work lately. But I did do a lot of reading. I found a book The Rebel Sell (also known as Nation of Rebels on Amazon) - "how counterculture became the consumer culture" - which I found fascinating because I always thought of myself as having counter-cultural leanings.
But what does that mean?
Rebellion, perhaps, authenticity, the search for meaning, the need to question everything, to find the path less travelled - these are some of the things that come to mind.
And these drive our choice of music, the films we watch, the clothes we wear - in other words, the things we buy - to simultaneously define who we are and set ourselves apart.
I love reading many different kinds of books to find the connections between them. Here's one book where the authors do the same, for example, where they linked Hitler's use of symbols, myths, motifs, art and design in Nazi Germany, with the emergence of broadcast media, advertising, and consumer marketing.
There's one point that the authors bring up often, that the countercultural left often reject perfectly workable solutions to societal problems on the grounds of ideological purity. You can see echoes of this whenever people like William Gibson and Paul Theroux call Singapore a "boring antiseptic police state". I live here, so if I honestly think through if I can do a better job than the ones who're running this place, then on an 80/20 rule, I'd say Singapore does OK as far as I'm concerned.
So I think the point the authors are making is that the counterculture is the consumer culture, and they show how or why, but as a positive force for societal change, its effects are zilch (and therefore damning for its posturing). Or something like that.