A question of Gruen

Ok, so Gruen is back tomorrow night after close to a year away, and what’s changed? Oh that’s right: the world has gone to shit. And here’s a fun fact: it’s all advertising’s fault.

The theory is that the numerous shitful things that have happened over the last year or so – Brexit, the rise of Trump, haters hating at a level even we didn’t think was possible – have largely come about because of forces unleashed by social media. It’s never been easier to spread a whole load of bullshit around onto gullible people… and you can probably guess where we’re going with this.

But it’s a firm fact that the reason social media (which, lets be honest, is really just “the media” these days) has developed the way it has – fake news is fine, hate speech is a-ok, shouting at each other is the way to “nail it”, and so on – is because social media needs to make money. And the way it makes money is through advertising.

Not only does that mean that social media is full of ads, but the way social media works is built around selling you stuff. And because things that outrage people (yet also confirm their ideas of how the world works) are what people click on, social media is designed to encourage the spread of those items. You know, fake news. Dividing people down every fault line possible. Claiming “free speech” every time literal Nazis call for all the evil shit Nazis generally do. Clips from The Weekly. Ok, maybe not that last one.

Obviously it didn’t have to be this way. Social media could have developed in ways that weren’t designed entirely to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. But advertising wanted it this way and they’re the ones with the money when it comes to the media, so here we are: in a shitty place where everyone’s worst instincts are being encouraged while society faces a whole lot of problems advertisers would like us to ignore because a divided population is an outraged population and an outraged population isn’t thinking, which makes them a lot easier to sell stuff to.

Welcome back, Gruen. Please, tell us more about how advertising solves all our problems.

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3 Comments

  • Yep says:

    I foresee lots of chatter about how advertising offers brief, joyous communal experiences in a world fractured by political division, chaos, and fear. Lots of talk about those hopeful adverts that blow up on social media, uniting us all for a brief moment in our shared love of twee delights.

    There will be some obligatory mention of the anti-same-sex marriage ads, because even they realise they can’t just pretend that advertising isn’t actively toxic to civil discourse when it’s that blatant, and then back to pretending that advertising is a force for good.

    Instead of what it is: a placating distraction, feeding us our every neurosis back as an idealised hamster wheel of aspiration, comfortable spouting whatever poisonous ideology its makers will accept payment for; a toxic brew of relativity, envy and indulgence that enables huckster frauds like Donald Trump to thrive.

    Oh, and at some point that Kendal Jenner Pepsi ad will get rolled out so that everyone can smugly Monday-night quarterback the whole thing as if any part of it was still relevant, or any one of them would have done better.

  • sven says:

    Still fascinated by how wrong this show is. If you avoid thinking and speaking like Gruen you should be halfway there to being an interesting person.
    Also, interesting how the NBN got bashed and laughed at for a long time, and then some unfunny tasteless ads concerning nth korea. Add to that the creepy shots of the audience clapping feverishly. Is this the new right wing comedy or something ?
    All in all a weird experience.

  • […] so we’ve already made our moral objections to Gruen painfully clear. Someone has to: a few days ago we heard an ABC radio host describe Gruen as a show that […]

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