Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You and Them

I'm worried about Time magazine. An ad for the Chrysler Sebring pops up as you go to the Time site. The slogan is 'You might not be Time person of the year, but you can drive like you are.' We then get to the front page and discover that the Time person of the year is, in fact, You. Hmmm, so I won't be needing a Sebring then. Meanwhile, Tony Blair is to consult the people by recruiting 100 members of the public to take part in a series of panel discussions about government policy. Er, but I thought that's what MPs were for. Anyway, both Time and Blair seem to have stumbled on the bright idea of flattering the public. Advertisers seem to have stumbled on the same idea. One ad after another tells us how great we are. The latest is a bizarre, balletic celebration of our skin. This turns out to be selling Vaseline. And, of course, there is the interminable L'Oreal 'Because you're worth it!' campaign. No I'm not and I'm not the person of the year either. Though, to be honest, I would like to sit on a people panel. With dazzling rhetoric I'd talk them into recommending free cigarettes for all over sixties. There's a serious death shortage in the developed world and the mad scientists are still trying to make people live longer. But, of course, I don't stand a chance. Blair is already selling panel places to Labour donors. It turns out, you see, his party will soon have no members, so he needs to turn it into a bank as quickly as possible. Next year, I gather, Time intends to make Them person of the year.


  1. Bryan, I know I am just one of several staff members of the Philadelphia Inquirer who read your blog.

    On behalf of all of us, I thank you for this comment about plunging numbers and pandering to the public. You make us feel right at home.

    I am a citizen of one of the Commonwealth nations. Any job openings for an excellent sub-editor in the U.K.?

    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  2. The public is easily flattered these days. I don't think we have ever been so susceptible to manipulation and spin. The ego is king. Or maybe it's the superego. Oh, forget Fraud. We are all deluded. It's a new form of false consciousness-everybody thinks they are special.

  3. The citizen journalist is the best hope for world peace. Bravo to TIME for recognizing the individual communiator! More at http://jon8332.typepad.com/force_for_good/2006/12/short_take_too_.html

  4. Indeed, it's a form of the anthropic principle according to Terry Pratchett. I've taken the following 'Hogfather' text from everything2.com:

    "Many people are aware of the Weak and Strong Anthropic Principles. The Weak One says, basically, that it was jolly amazing of the universe to be constructed in such a way that humans could evolve to a point where they make a living in, for example, universities, while the Strong One says that, on the contrary, the whole point of the universe was that humans should not only work in universities but also write for huge sums books with words like 'Cosmic' and 'Chaos' in the titles.


    "The UU Professor of Anthropics had developed the Special and Inevitable Anthropic Principle, which was that the entire reason for the existence of the universe was the eventual evolution of the UU Professor of Anthropics. But this was only a formal statement of the theory which absolutely everyone, with only some minor details of a 'Fill in name here' nature, secretly believes to be true."

  5. A death shortage? I agree. Even life has been spun: it's now de rigueur. People choose life these days, without even thinking it through properly. It's a consumer choice thing. I think death has had a bad press. It needs a good spin-doctor. Who wants to live an absurdly long time anyway? It would be tiresome in the extreme and the repeats would just drive me nuts.

  6. At December 26, 2006 2:37 PM, CAR GEYE said…

    The citizen journalist is the best hope for world peace. Bravo to TIME for recognizing the individual communiator!

    Nice to see that the art of deadpan humor lives.

  7. Blair's plan to outsource government policy to randomly selected 'voters' is one of two things

    1- A inspired copy of the direcet democratic system of ancient Athens and thus a huge advance for our political culture.

    2- A desperate attempt at publicity and an attempt to take power away from his successor by tying his hands with idiotic policies.