Thursday, September 1, 2022

Howl and Howling.

If you grew up when I did, where I did, educated where I was, it's very likely you would be acquainted with the "Anthem of America's Beat Movement"--Allen Ginsburg's 'Howl.'

If you're at all well-read, beyond super-market checkout tabloids and dentist's office People magazines, you probably, at the very least, know the opening line of Howl.

Trigger Warning: The visual and recording below includes the word 'negro.' Do not for even a millisecond leap to the au courant conclusion that Ginsberg and I are therefore racists. Educated minds don't judge things from 75 years ago by the standards of today.

As I make my way through the world and our industry today, I am struck by the first eleven words of Howl and their prescience. Specifically these seven words: "the best minds of my generation destroyed."

There's a lot of mind-destruction being wrought.

I must get a dozen calls a week from friends and acquaintances in the business. Young people. Old people. In-between people. Superstars. Workaday people. Agency leaders.

They all feel the same way.

The business--as it's been sullied while under the destructive oligopoly control of a cabal of extortionate holding companies--is destroying people. Destroying their minds. Their souls. Their brains.

Forget about the great scams of the awards-industrial complex. Forget about pay-for-play monikers like "Agency of the Year," "Best Workplace," and so on. Just turn on the TV. Open a magazine. Browse online.

Is there one thing that's any good?

To me everything seems to have the creative integrity of a closed Bed Bath and Beyond. It's all junk. Thrown in your face. And fluorescent lighting and filth.

Is there one ad you'd be proud to have been a part of?

Is there any communication that "imparts useful consumer information in an executionally brilliant way"?

Is there anything that's not shrill, banal or ugly? Insulting, even?

Is there anything that seems like it's not the product of minds destroyed by madness?

As an industry, we have forgotten humanity. 

Our humanity.

Humanity in our work.

The humanity of people who see our work.

I love profit. 

But not profit that destroys. 

Not profit that creates ugliness. 

Not profit that drives people away from an entire industry. Not profit that finds its way only to the few, leaving the many destroyed by madness.

Ours is supposed to be a creative industry.

We're supposed to create love (and sales) for brands.

We do that when we create work that people like.

I'm anticipating some people reading this will call me a downer. Many will say I'm too hard on the work that's out there. 

Or so old I just don't get it.

More will accuse me of cynicism. 

I'll respond to that with a line from another poet: George Bernard Shaw. 

"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who haven't got it."

Besides, Babs Gonzales....who makes everything make sense.


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