Eminem, Nike and Mike Pence all walk into the bar and immediately steal your support, empathy, vote, time, money. Fill in the blank. Not a very funny joke, is it? I don’t think so either. The point is, no matter the side these entities (because I’m loathe to call them people) are on, they are selling you something. And you’re buying it.
My facebook feed is awash this week with sympathy or hate for Nike. They chose a politically charged athlete for two reasons, and not one of them was “freedom of choice.” One: they knew it would get people talking, up in arms. Two: they knew that it would get people who already supported and could afford their brand to buy more, and those who support them but don’t wear Nike stuff in a show of democratic support.
Eminem’s feud? Same. Maybe you like his music and know it’s ploy, but are okay will a friendly “marketing-based” competition, but from my newsfeed, my guess is most of my friends didn’t know. And that bothered me. I don’t like to see people I respect treated like pawns. I don’t listen to much Eminem, but it wasn’t hard for me to guess that Eminem was probably going to release an album soon, and a trip to Google told me I was correct. So, this fakey feud sat ill to me. It was a meatloaf pretending to be a steak.
So how does Pence fit into this? An anonymous piece written by a disgruntled, anonymous Trump staff member who just so happens to use a phrase Mike Pence often uses (and almost no one else with a better vocabulary and/or shame will use) assures the public that some good samaritans in the White House are just trying to make less of a mess for America to clean up later by reigning Trump in.. Oh, really? So, Trump is the sort of person who allows himself to be reigned in by his inferiors or partners? Who benefits from the idea that jumping onto that train wreck of a human being’s team was simply in America’s benefit, so that he didn’t trash the country? Possibly someone who is positioned for a future Republican nomination for Presidency? Give me a break. If you’ve jumped onto this sideshow, you didn’t do so for selfless reasons. Stop selling it. I won’t buy it.
Look, I teach rhetoric to my basic college classes. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does help me to distinguish when I’m being “sold” on something. Sometimes that doesn’t matter to me. I often can tell when I’m being sold Harry Potter stuff, for instance, but overlook it, as it’s a book that brought be enjoyment in a more than temporal way. It helped me understand myself as a kid and as a growing young adult. So, once in a while, I will allow myself to be sold to in that manner. But I know when it’s happening, so it’s less likely to inspire me allow myself to be marketed to when I don’t want to be.
Buying stuff is big in the U.S. We are a capitalist country. I know that. I know a lot of the reason we do well in this country is because we can sell our goods (or rather, poorer country’s goods), our image, and our rhetoric to others. I just get really tired of being inundated by it on all sides. It’s frustrating for me to see my kids so trained in “wanting” the latest thing, persuaded into liking athletes our country treats like gods, and tricked into caring about things that aren’t important.
I don’t have a funny joke in this blog. I don’t have a lighter anecdote. The reality is that what happens to us everyday, mostly online, but pretty much everywhere, is an inundation of marketing. I guess that’s why I’m not great at it with my own endeavors. Do or don’t buy my writing has always been the way I’ve marketed, and I’m smart enough to know that’s not the right way to do it. But I am too uncomfortable with selling even the things I truly care about because I just feel like we are all too swamped with it. And I also know that most people won’t ever care if they read my books, whereas they will be pissed if Eminem is dissed. I don’t know what to think about that. I just know it’s not funny.
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H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.