There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
I’ve become strangely fascinated by The Bling Ring. It’s not a new story, but it’s one that illustrates how celebrity culture can get the best of people - even the ones in the periphery. And how meta it quickly becomes when the people admiring and trying to imitate the celebs, become just this through the process.
If you haven’t heard about it, this is a very brief summary:
A bunch of teenagers want to live the Young Hollywood lifestyle, but can’t quite afford it. They get the idea that they should start burgling celebrities while they are out of town, and steal their clothes and jewelry. Astonishingly the manage to pull this off and end up stealing $3 million worth of goods from people like Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Orlando Bloom. They eventually get caught on surveillance cameras and the whole story starts to unfold.
In the middle of this, the TV-network E! strikes gold. Originally intending to produce a show called “Home Schooled With the Arlington’s”, they find themselves documenting a family with one of the aforementioned teens in it. The show is renamed “Pretty Wild” instead. It is later revealed that two of the girls in the show are smoking OxyContin between takes, amongst other things.
Recently, Sofia Coppola made a film based on the Vanity Fair article that describes all of this. Watching it, and the reality show along with it, creates a remarkably ironic and somehow very contemporary take on where we stand in the early 2010s. The reality show format is surreal in it’s own right, as is the content of it. The teens are homeschooled by their mother, a former Playboy model, who has created a curriculum based on the book/film The Secret.
You can’t make these kind of things up - it’s stranger than fiction. And that sums up the whole story very well.
What is unhappiness? Your intuition might be that it is simply the opposite of happiness, just as darkness is the absence of light. That is not correct. Happiness and unhappiness are certainly related, but they are not actually opposites.
And matters are hardly helped by nature’s useful idiots in society, who propagate a popular piece of life-ruining advice: “If it feels good, do it.” Unless you share the same existential goals as protozoa, this is often flat-out wrong.
Thoughtful, healthy and worth coming back to.
This production manager Arno I mentioned,” Freeman says, “he was the second barista I ever hired and he was a German literature major, and Goethe was a big thing for him. And I remember reading some of Doctor Faustus a while ago—you know, to get to know Arno better—and there is a great, great metaphor in it that I’ve been thinking about so much. It’s the prevailing metaphor of my last 18 months. In the book, Mephistopheles appears first in the guise of a poodle. Who could resist a poodle? So lovable, so cute.
The story about Blue Bottle Coffee growing into a real business, without losing their way. Or following the poodle, in this case.
The appeal of Maier’s designs is similarly aided by clubbiness and artificial scarcity. With the Cabat, small production runs insure that it is not seen everywhere and thus retains what Steele calls its “stealth luxury” appeal. “One of the most interesting aspects of fashion in the past ten years has been how much of it has been like a secret Masonic handshake,” she told me. “Only people in the know will recognize what you have, and it’s really just not relevant to other people.”
Really well written piece from 2011 about the rejuvenation of Bottega Veneta through minimalism. But it also had this little nugget above, pointing to where luxury is heading.
So how should advertisers be re-looking at their relationships with media houses?
- I think it’s pretty tough, because the media houses are clueless. The average media company in the world is in pretty poor shape. A few will survive. A few newspapers will make the transition from a print product to an electronic product as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have done. And the Financial Times, which is perhaps the most successful example. In South Africa, you might have a few electronic news services – News24 and a couple of others – making it. But most media houses are as clueless as ad agencies.
Your own included – Naspers?
- That would be perhaps a little harsh but it’s approximately correct.
The fear about [kids] safety is the least rational. Despite the impression you get from watching crime dramas, children in rich countries are mind-bogglingly safe, so long as they look both ways before crossing the road. Kids in the 1950s—that golden era so often evoked by conservative politicians—were in fact five times likelier to die before the age of five. Yet their parents thought nothing of letting them roam free. In those days, most American children walked or biked to school; now barely 10% do, prevented by jittery parents. Children learn how to handle risks by taking a few, such as climbing trees or taking the train, even if that means scraped knees and seeing the occasional weirdo. Freedom is exhilarating. It also fosters self-reliance.
Couldn’t agree more with this op-ed.