Call it cultural de-evolution.
That is what we are in the midst of now, and have
been for the past five or six years. A capitulation to corporate
conformity, as we pushed culture, integrity and intellect into the
passenger seat and let our minds be driven into barren wastelands by
corporate cruise control. In Part 1 of this feature, we examined the
origins of the sexual revolution of the early 90's, and saw how Gen
Xers unintentionally provided marketers with a hot, new target
"...for many of the activists who had...
believed that better media representation would make for a more just
world, one thing had become abundantly clear: identity politics
weren't fighting the system, or even subverting it...they were
feeding it" (Klein, No Logo, p.113)
Now, we will discuss the consequences of the
sexual revolution and the effect it has had and is continuing to
have on the current status quo.
There is a sharp contrast between the ways in
which the sexual revolution affected the attitudes and behaviors of
males and females. Whereas females were glorified and made to feel
strong and independent, males were "wussified". We shall
see, however, that both of these stereotypes are based on a giant
In the late 1990's, artists like No Doubt's Gwen
Stefani and the Spice Girls initiated the terms "Riot Grrrl"
and "Girl Power", respectively, and these catchphrases
caught on with adolescent and teenage girls. The reason the whole
"empowerment" phenomenon was so successful was because the
concept was being pushed by sexy female entertainers as opposed to
feminist groups or women's liberation movements. But missing was the
intellectual dimension that the latter group could have provided.
Young females began to emulate their favourite Spice Girl, and later
on Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, and it was around this
time that Nike came out with it's "whatever you can do I can do
better" commercial celebrating female athleticism.
So what we have here is a new aggressive,
athletic independent young woman that ostensibly is a positive thing
but in reality is just a prototype to feed the mass marketing
machines. The problem was that there was too much "sex"
and not enough "substance". This was perpetuated by the
Britney's and Christina's of the entertainment world.
In this month's issue of Maxim Blender, the
gorgeous Britney Spears graces the cover wearing a bra and a leather
jacket. The headline reads: Talking Trash with the Queen of
Pop". A more accurate description would be: "Talking Pop
with the Queen of Trash".
The point is, the dumbed-down views on
empowerment and equality were embraced by girls:
there is a double-standard in the music
industry. A guy can take off his shirt and be macho, but if a
girl does it she's labelled a slut.
it's ok to dress sexy. If people don't like
you, they don't have to look at you.
These two recycled soundbytes of simplified
"wisdom" have been repeated by virtually every female
popstar in order to justify being naked in a music video. What's
unfortunate about this is that young girls are led to believe that
they actually have their own opinions, when actually they are being
fed to them by the media.
In the new millenium, these concepts were
perpetuated, but R&B music was now at the forefront of popular
culture. Pink became the poster girl for dykes and socially confused
teenagers from broken homes. Destiny's Child replaced the Spice
Girls with their songs about being independent, emotionally strong
females, and Jennifer Lopez and Lil' Kim repped shallow materialism
(and medicore talent). This shift in power has not gone unnoticed,
as Mattel has just released a line of dolls that are the hood's
answer to Barbie: Black and Hispanic "Flava" dolls rocking
fake Kangol hats, cool clothing and lots of jewellry. If you collect
them all and put the boxes together, you spell "Fa Sizzle"
(we're not making this shit up).
So what the sexual revolution did to girls was
provide them with a false sense of security through materialism and
the need to "acquire", raping their parent's pocketbooks
in the process. The "valleygirl", "Barbie" and
"diva" images were shoved down their throats as often as
an anorexic girl's finger, and there was no room for analyzing what
was going on. No one was teaching these girls how to process all the
information and images they were being fed and how to make
intelligent decisions and conclusions based on their own personal
beliefs and moral conduct.
As we've shown, the sexual revolution provided
females with a prototype that corporate sectors manipulated them
into emulating. The same thing was done to males, but in a much more
subtle manner, and with much more drastic consequences.
Around the same time that the "Girl
Power" phenomenon was enjoying worldwide success, another
phenomenon crawled out of the corporate, corpulent womb of middle
America and raised it's ugly, newborn head: the birth of the boy
band. We already had the Backstreet Boys; add to them N' Sync, 98
Degrees, Boyzone, B4-4, I.D. and V.I.P. (Canada has the dubious
distinction of producing some of the shittiest boybands in the
history of recorded music). We also add to these rock bands that are
not boy bands in a "traditional" sense, but serve the same
purpose. They are Linkin Park, Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Not By
Choice, and A Simple Plan.
The boy band phenomenon had males getting in
touch with their emotions, and glorified the "pretty boy"
image to sickening heights. Cliques started dressing and acting the
same, to the point where it was virtually impossible to distinguish
between a "gino" and a "rocker". Spiked, messy
hair, tattoos, piercings, and the colour BABY BLUE. Masculinity
really took a turn for the worse when guys started rocking baby blue
tracksuits, shoes, even cars. Everyone was colour-co-ordinated to
look like they belonged in a boy band. We talked on the phone for
hours, and balked at making important decisions. We wore colognes
with fruity, citrus scents (when your best friend resembles the girl
you are attracted to, we have problems). We got our hair cut at
salons instead of barber shops. We started dyeing our hair different
colours, and using unisex hair products by companies like Tigi Bed
Head and it's imitation, Got2B.
Viewership for the two manliest sports in the
world, boxing and hockey, were at an all-time low. Instead, guys
watched wrestling, which the WWE labeled as "sports
entertainment" but was essentially a male soap opera, with
preposterous storylines and men and women wearing costumes that
would make a drag-queen blush.
Put simply, we were starting to RESEMBLE the
girls we were after.
Now that the behaviors and attitudes of males and
females had been homogenized, marketers swooped down like corporate
vultures and began to pick away at the last vestiges of cultural and
gender integrity. What took place was the "one-stop-shop,
mega-sizing" of the urban landscape.
Men and women now both enjoyed doing the same
things. They both watched "reality" television shows like
Survivor, Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, and Blind Date (no
more fighting for the remote). Wussy businessmen and soccer moms
alike drove SUV's and drank Starbuck's coffee. Both men and women
shopped at Best Buy, Old Navy, The Gap, Future Shop, and Ikea.
And just like that, a simpler, dumbed-down
society was created.
Globalization and unisexification have
far-reaching consequences. For example, imaging spending
$10,000-$20,000 on university tuition only to graduate and be unable
to find work because all the jobs you apply for are taken by
part-time workers making $10/hr. This is just one of many scenarios
that is threatening to become prevalent if we don't SMARTEN THE FUCK
UP. Men should be strong, independent decision-makers, with a
passion for hobbies and higher learning. Men should exist to make
the world more rational and systematic.
Women should be much of the same, existing to
make the world a more beautiful place.
Until we rediscover our higher purposes, until we
refuse to be subjugated to the corporate agendas of our so-called
oppressors, and until we learn to give a collective FUCK YOU to
those that would have us conform to societal-norms, our fates lie in
the hand of the omnipotent administrator.
And it's time to bite the hand that feeds us.
"I picture the reality in which we live
in terms of military occupation. We are occupied the way the French
and Norwegians were occupied by the Nazis during World War II, but
this time by an army of marketers. We have to reclaim our country
from those who occupy it on behalf of their global masters."
-Ursula Franklin, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, 1998