Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lies That Tell the Truth

This is the first of the daily themed posts. Thursdays are reserved for Lies that Tell the Truth (LTTTT): Advertisements and Americans. This section is dedicated to explicating the messages that we are all receiving as consumers and people in this world. I like to imagine that the people who make ads can't help letting some reality sneak into the fake worlds they are being paid to create. As with all Lies that Tell the Truth commentaries, I am only 65% not kidding.

We
found this particular advertisement in the dirt mall of Bellevue, Washington, just outside the It-Tastes-Better-When-You-Say-Yee-Ro Greek restaurant at the mouth of the Target, next to the Payless Shoe Store.

The Lie: Working for Radio Shack is so exciting that you'll be compelled to throw your arms over your head and flash a brilliant, waxed smile to the world.

The Truth: T
he woman in this picture is not merely happy to be working at Radio Shack, she is ecstatic. Her look is so extreme, she could be in the process of revelation, as terrified as she is excited. What about working a retail job at a mall could be causing such powerful emotion. We can't see her wrists. Could she be bound? Is this a secret commentary on coercion, on the reasonable facsimile of pleasure in service torture peculiar to retail? As Wilco would have it, "How to fight loneliness / Smile all the time / Shine your teeth to meaningless / And sharpen them with lies." It's almost enough to make you long for the days when the working masses grumpily pulled the lever until the machine made the widget.

A larger point. With an increasingly large percentage of our workforce dedicated to interpersonal contact, we might not wonder that they not only can but want to adopt "consumer productivity" tech (like You-Scan lines at the grocery store) that lets them avoid even more interpersonal contact in their leisure time. It used to be the machines were at work, the people at play. Now we leave the people at work and play with our beloved machines.

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