This cult of intelligence forgets that some problem can only be solved by a change of heart
This cult of "intelligence" centers on the idea that human cleverness is the supreme value . . . [but] all around us, we can see people trying to solve by logical argument or by the acquiring of information, problems that can only be dealt with by a change of heart—a change of attitude and new policy and direction. But this is the last thing we try . . . in contemporary culture, the passionate, quasi-religious exaltation of our pure cognitive faculties is surely a defense mechanism against this awkward fact.
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.