“Today, we are everywhere surrounded by the remarkable conspicuousness of consumption and affluence, established by the multiplication of objects, services and material goods. This now constitutes a fundamental mutation in the ecology of the human species. Strictly speaking, men of wealth are no longer surrounded by other human beings, as they have been in the past, but by objects. Their daily exchange is no longer with their fellows, but rather, statistically as a function of some ascending curve, with the acquisition and manipulation of goods and messages: from the rather complex domestic organization with its dozens of technical slaves to the urban estate with all the material machinery of communication and professional activity, and the permanent festive celebration of objects in advertising with the hundreds of daily mass media messages; from the proliferation of somewhat obsessional objects to the symbolic psychodrama which fuels the nocturnal objects that come to haunt us even in our dreams.” (Jean Baudrillard, Consumer society).
Everything is or becomes a commercial aspect (from nature to objects). All the new products are meant to be multifunctional.
For example, a phone does not only imply its initial properties anymore (the one that offers us the possibility to make and receive phone calls), receiving meaningless and useless features (meant to invite us to a technological consumption- thus, the objects become technically out-of-date before being physically worn-out) which turn out to be indispensable in time. An actual phone must be able to take photos, to compose music, to have Internet, gps, games, everything that might capture the consumer’s attention. None of these functions achieve professional capacities. The functions are there so that they distract our attention and pull us towards a free, meaningless consumption. The objects are made in order to be replaced by others in a short while.
The information sources are heading towards a logic of competition, towards a homogenisation of the suggested products and this leads to a mental lockdown. Many editorial offices and publishing houses have adopted a mentality based on ratings. Everyone thinks in terms of commecial success. Immediate commercial success was suspiciously looked at in Baudelaire or Flaubert’s days, within the avant-garde writers’ space, along with the writers for writers and those appreciated by other artists. This type of success indicated a compromise in front of the era and money… Nowadays, the market seems to be the ultimate instance of proof. This fact is also easily noticeable when it comes to another recent institution: the list of bestsellers. The logic of the market has also entered the areas of cultural production.
The reemergence of this ratings based mentality even among avant-gard editors and academic institutions- which have suddenly started to be preoccupied with marketing- signifies an extremely alarming fact, as it risks to endanger the conditions of creating some works. These works might seem esoteric, as they do not meet the public’s expectations, but they prove to be capable to create their own public in the long term.
The means of TV reestablish the relation between thinking and speed through what Bourdieu called fast thinkers (experts in perishable, disposable thinking), a kind of cultural fast food which has become paradigmatic for contemporary thinking. Manipulation happens during the talk show which is supposed to be a free discussion, eventually turning into a simulation. The presenter (the moderator) imposes the topic, the issues that are going to be discussed, he gives the floor to the participants, he shares the important signs and the speaking time. The speakers are not equal on the TV stage: on one hand we have discourse and stage professionals, on the other hand there are the amateurs whose vivid freedom of expression could be too risky and dangerous for the presenter and his show, this leading to a growing elaboration of the means of discourse manipulation and hijacking.