Social cruelties leave us with anything but indignation
Los Nadies (The Nobodies)
Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
them—will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down
yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a
fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.
The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
screwed every which way.
Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.
But entertainment has the merit not only of being better suited to helping sell goods; it is an effective vehicle for hidden ideological messages. Furthermore, in a system of high and growing inequality, entertainment is the contemporary equivalent of the Roman “games of the circus” that diverts the public from politics and generates a political apathy that is helpful to preservation of the status quo.