Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Judaism, Noel Coward, Joseph Heller and Advertising Today.

I suppose like many Jews, I have more than a scintilla of paranoia hard-wired into my system. It’s fairly well-documented that Jews have been on the short-end of history’s stick, for at least since 3,000 of our 6,000 or so years.

Whether it was the Greeks, the Romans, the Saracens, the Christians, the Cossacks, the Nazis or the board of the Westchester Country Club, Jews have served for several millennia now as an all purpose whipping people for just about every contingent who out-number us, which is nearly everyone.

That paranoia is exacerbated by our current system of un-regulated capitalism, particularly as it expresses itself in the modern advertising industry. The industry has all-but eliminated kindness. You might have been a bulwark on a major account for ten years, yet you still might find yourself out on your ass because you were accused of looking at someone sideways, or worse, you did something unforgivingly heinous, like expressing a differing opinion.

Most people, Jews or not, feel the threat and insecurity I believe management wants you to feel. Workers, and it was ever thus, are much more compliant if they labor constantly under threat of death. Do this or else, is the prevailing sensibility. Accompanied by Shut up or else and Work all weekend or else and Do more than humanly possible or else and Don’t complain or else and Be happy you have a job or else.

(I would imagine if readers could “like” the ultimata listed above, there would be a response of Vaynerchukian quantities. On the other hand, maybe people would be too cowed by the authorities potentially snooping here to admit they even read it, much less agreed with it.)

Over the long Labor Day weekend, a tsunami of paranoia crashed over my angelic shayna punim. I’ve been having a little more sturm und drang than usual at work. Despite invariably coming through, despite pulling more than my Promethean weight, despite generally being an exemplary, if outspoken, corporate citizen, I was upset on Saturday when I couldn’t get into my work email.

I tried and tried. I was locked out.

Fuck, I thought with my usual eloquence and discernment.

This is how they fire you in 2019, I thought. They lock you out of email, invalidate your key-card so you can’t get into the office, and some time thereafter, some minor technocratic functionary will probably have me fill out the requisite forms thereby severing my person from all forms of paid compensation.

I tried to check my email about ten times on Saturday. No dice.


OK, George, I said, you’re just being paranoid.

Sure, I said, but as Joseph Heller stated so presciently in his masterpiece, “Catch 22,” “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

Jewish or not, this is the state of our business, of our world today. We are so under the unchecked-thumb of an oligarchic industry where wages and employment options are thoroughly colluded against the common working person, that it’s not unusual to think you can be fired at the drop of a pink slip.

About 19 times a week someone says something to me, or comments on one of my posts. They remark about my honesty and my fearlessness.

All I can say is it’s sad that we have to laud someone for fulfilling our human obligation to be honest and outspoken. Isn’t that the minimum requirement of our species? To tell the truth as you see it?

How far we have fallen.

How scared we have all become.

How sad it all is.

PS.  Two side stories. 

When I got hired at my first agency job, the agency's ECD (when that was the biggest creative title) said to me, "I want this to be the kind of place where you work hard all day and you go home, you're proud to tell your spouse what you did."

My third agency job, the ECD said to me, "I want this to be the kind of place where you can be as good as you think you are."

Again, to cite Joseph Heller, "Something Happened."

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