Brand Narcissism

The modern world is run by the corporations. I know it’s a old saying and I sound like a cliché writing this from my Macbook Air, wearing a jacket from Massimo Dutti whilst drinking cheap Nescafe. I am a slave to the corporations and so is everything that claims to be altruistic on the high-street. The new world is run by what we know as Neo-Liberalism. This idea that the Markets can and should fix every problem in the modern world.

Especially in the last couple of years where we have seen rise to tribes of people such as social justice warriors and the idea of having to be PC all the time. Although these kinds of people believe they are doing it to defend groups, it can be argued that this has become a way to make everything look gentrified to cover up all the bad stuff. Looking through the lens of advertising, PC cultural hasn’t done anything to improve issues but rather gloss over them and not actually deal with the problems at hand. Companies have used PC culture to leverage their brand identity and use diversity and multiculturalism as a form of marketing. Brands don’t deal with the issue; they only make it look like they are modern and forward thinking when profit is the real goal. If we look at Milton Friedman, he argues that this type of corporate social responsibility (CSR) should have only one objective and that is to make money.

Brand and corporations have made it easy to pacify the population. In this way we no longer need to lead a revolution when we can use a clever hashtag instead, this need can also be suppressed  when using a product that says it engages in diversity and change, this makes us feel better and sell the idea that we are contributing to some kind of social change when we are really doing the bare minimum.  Diversity no longer becomes an issue but rather becomes a brand you can purchase. One of the most ironic displays of this is a Punk buying a T-Shirt that says Revolution. Or maybe a t-shirt that says black lives matter because the spectacle of inclusion is good for business. Salvoj Zizek calls this process interpassivity, the idea that we are being interactive whilst being passive and doing the bare minimum. This is the modern revolutionary, doing the smallest amount to help.

Thinking back to how we argued that Neo Liberalism is the idea that social problems should be taken care of by the Market i.e. private industry, reflecting on what we have spoken about here is that in fact Neo Liberalism is fake. Zizek explains that Neo Liberalism is fake and this is because as we have said before it does not actually solve social issues but rather leverages it for its own corporate profit scheme.

Being part of the profit scheme thus avoids the issues at hand and continually does so as long, as it continues to sell. Corporations thus simplify things in diversity and keep it consumable to the public as to not over complicate the matters because companies do not want you to think about these issue. Corporations could care less as their legal responsibility is to keep in profit to the shareholders. For example, we gloss over ideas that Coke Cola is a company that stands for diversity and happiness whist we ignore the fact that they have killed people in the past. We don’t care about these things because we like to be shown that change is happening and most importantly it sells.

Zizek goes on to talk about how even the idea of rebelling against the current way of things is even encouraged by the corporations as rebellion is a commodity to sell. This is the idea of interactivity. Examples of this can be best displayed on social media mainly Twitter. Companies enforce social change and clever hashtags to get people encouraged about a specific issue however, the underlying message is promoting the brand itself so that when you shop at the store that claims it stand for some social change, you feel a little less guilty that you spent a fortune on a pair of trousers. We can look at this in Encoding and Decoding theory by Stuart Hall for instance. The message sent is for example is “save the elephants”, whilst the encoded messaged is: “buy this brand so you can feel self-righteous”. The main point of neo-liberalism is to make liberals feel better about doing things than to solve the actual issues. By this, brands have found a way to successfully pacify the masses.

Essentially the way that modern world consumerism and tolerance is structured around a deep rooted sense of narcissism. A sense that you want to look like you are doing good so you can feel good without doing much.

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