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The movie, “The Merchants of Cool”, presented an in-depth look at the relationship between marketing giants and the individuality and “coolness” of teens today. I was surprised by some of the things shown in the movie; not that I was ignorant of the fierce marketing tactics used by companies to sell their product, but I was unaware of the extent that some are willing to go to. Sprite for instance, paid teenagers $50 each to come, dance, and have a good time at the launch party for its website. This party was filmed by MTV, and broadcast to millions of teens who were accordingly influenced by this new trend. To me, it seems that by attempting to discover cool trends before they flourish, with “cool hunting”, companies themselves eventually kill whatever trends they find. They are encouraging trends that may have never surfaced without intervention, and repressing others that they deemed unmarketable.
The results of this craving for foreknowledge of the next trend are frequently unsavory, as is seen in the case of MTV’s ethnographic study, where researchers visited teens at their homes and attempted to analyze them as if their individuality could be synthesized and then marketed. From these studies, arose what “The Merchants of Cool” call the mook and the midriff. The mook is an extremely rude and immature character who completely disregards what others think of him and his actions. This character is portrayed by actors such as Tom Green and is seen in the show “Jackass”. The midriff is the character that media says a teenage girl should be; comfortable and extremely open with her sexuality. These “standards” that the media creates are obviously flawed.
The movie also opened my eyes to a few astonishing facts, such as the fact that teens see 3,000 ads per day, 10 million by the time they’re 18. This mass exposure is obviously not beneficial, and in my opinion these media conglomerates, including companies such as Viacom and AOL Time Warner have, in a sense, taken over many teen’s lives, becoming dictators of every day in a teen’s life. These ads tell one how to dress to be cool, what kind of shampoo to use, and even what soda to drink to achieve the ultimate “cool factor”.
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