Ideology and Popular Culture
This paper will examine the commercial done by google, which was created as a prank on April first. It will analyze the reason for it’s creation, the people it’s targeting, and the effects it may have. It will also briefly analyze the way I personally interpret ideologies, and compare it to the assigned reading of “Practices of Looking” pages 50-56.
Who decides what we like? According the the theory of hegemony and the book “Practices of looking” it’s a push and pull between what we have (or need) and what we’re being sold. The piece that I’ll be analyzing with these ideas in mind is called “Blimp Ads” by Google. It’s a piece of work done by their team to be a mock advertizement for April fools day, but contains many deeper meanings in the subtext. It contains many references to our corporation structure that we’ll look at as well as looking at the bigger picture.
The Google ad itself is a mockery of the ad domination on society. It’s poking fun at it’s own ad based system by making the ridiculous scenario where you could buy an ad for a blimp. In Google’s words, “Imagine this: a baseball stadium, packed with thousands of fans. A home run flies through the air, and as the crowd looks up, they see your ad, bigger than ever, hand-painted on the side of a majestic blimp. Blimp Ads can make this a reality.”. This is the picture painted as a joke by Google. The ad implies that a blimp is comical; that the idea of a blimp ad is funny, and yet while it brings a chuckle it doesn’t really seem like that that much of an impossibility. It echos into the depth of the ad market that is so saturated by Google.
In class, we learned about this idea of hegemony where the most powerful class doesn’t simply command over it’s consumers like peons, but compromises with them to create a market where they are the most accepted while still turning a profit. This is the case here in a sense. Google has become a giant, a colossus of the internet, and yet very few hate Google. They stay in tune with their consumers (users of gmail, Google search, youtube (owned by Google), etc) without being forceful or even following the conventions of a usual company. In this instance they are directly interpolating businesses and companies that use their ads onto the reader, who most likely has never used such a service, and yet the transparency of the company and bluntness with their tactics has such a charm that it’s instantly laughed at and accepted by the reader. Perhaps this friendly form of marketing is the future of business practices.
On the other hand, perhaps this instance of comical marketing is a ploy to gain the user’s acceptance and trust and behind it all is the sinister hand of capitalism. This style of marketing themselves that Google uses is similar to what sprite tried to do in the in-class video. They’re what’s cool in the industry because they seem to care for their consumer. They release countless free softwares and maintain a quirkiness, and their work environment is revered as the best in the industry for their employees. Maybe this is the future of marketing because it works, and by accepting Google we’re signing away the right to chose by simply choosing what’s the most friendly. This idea of taste or choice is touched on in the book “Practices of Looking” and it’s the opinion of the author that while our culture is heavily influenced by corporations, we still have our own quirks and styles that allow us to have a certain taste.
However, our non-comedian friend Marx has another point of view. In his eyes the corporations will always have profit at heart and they will take it in the most efficient way. Google is swimming in profit so clearly this tactic is working. Perhaps Google has never had profit in mind at all and is simply under the command of truly inspired, comical individuals, but this is certainly not the view of Marx (as depicted in the book). His view is that this tyrannical swaying of the public goes without question and that we are merely sheep to be lead along.
The idea of ideology according to Marx is that it’s but a fleeting creation of the leaders of the time. This ebbs and flows with each new passing generation based on the wants and needs of the few who rule. However, based on this Google example it’s somewhat difficult to hold to such a cynical viewpoint. Even if the point does make sense when looking at the big picture and all the money and power that Google has accrued. I see Google’s influence in every corner of the web, and it has certainly impacted my ideology in the sense that I no longer stand for advertizement of anything other than the most minimalistic and word of mouth based. The service has been so keen on shrinking the old ads of the late 1990s into a way that they aren’t obscene that it’s made me intolerant of ads in other media. I can no longer watch TV for more than 10 minutes at a time.
I believe these changes to be positive, however their negative traits are clear as well. We give a huge amount of our trust to corporations who in turn use this information to help us make buying decisions. Maybe we’re selling off our right to chose and our privacy of thought as well as our ideologies by partaking in ad based services like this. The concept of taste and ideology is truly vast, and it will be an exiting time to come as we watch our choices unfold in the industry.