Monday, April 07, 2008

Sucks to your "Brand"

Gyles Brandreth has an interesting enough article at Times Online about how Oscar Wilde fits in our time. But does absolutely everything need to be discussed in terms of capitalism, commercialism, and the marketplace? We're in an age when anything remotely related to identity (or the spirit) is discussed as "branding."

Existentialist? Existence precedes essence? There is no essence? The outward forms create the inner meaning; identity is self-created (thus "branded")?

Postmodernist? The outward forms signal that the center is empty, and so we focus on the image (and identify it as a "brand," full of shifting meaning and transient image)?

Or simply dehumanizing?

(via ALD)


  1. Yeah, I think it's dehumanizing. I think reducing Wilde--or anyone, for that matter--to a "brand" that can be applied to anything, that has "values we respond to", to use Brandreth's own words, that are then used (or misused) as marketing tools is a sign of cultural sickness. W

  2. It also bothers me on an intellectual level; a lot of these writers seem to think they're really clever. "Look at me! I'm understanding X in new ways by applying economic concepts!" It's actually a fairly easy intellectual exercise, and considering that everything in our society is already being reduced to economic terms, I don't think it provides many new insights.

    But it bothers me more on a deeper level. When we reduce everything, including human emotions, human faiths, human relationships, human desires, human behaviors, to base economic terms, we distort and debase what humanity is.

    For example, a little while back when statistics came out about the frequency with which Americans switch religions, it was common for people to discuss it as "shopping" for religions. OK--but what insight is provided by reducing the complexities of the individual's quest for faith, spirituality, and meaning to merely "shopping" for a faith? I suppose it reveals a consumer-driven culture and a consumer-driven mindset, so there's some usefulness. But it strikes me as simplifying human beings to call their complex, often irrational desires for meaning "shopping."