I just dropped some serious coin on braces for my three daughters, which I’m happy to do because it seems like that’s what good father’s do. They provide. But then I read about this craze in Japan, where cute young girls are spending good money to make their normal teeth look bad. For a bunch of whack reasons, it apparently is fashionable and even sexy to have snaggleteeth. How crazy is that? Apparently, in Japan it is not.
Anyway, it just goes to show you how strange and different our world is. Up is down and geeks are cool and my God we just had breakfast for dinner!
We in Adland have always prided ourselves in being forward thinking, up on popular culture. But popular culture is getting pretty fast and loose, isn’t it? There are so many “in” crowds nowadays I don’t think anyone is out. Once outcasts, Gross hillbillies like Honey Boo Boo and her kin are raking it in. Talentless individuals have huge followings of adoring fans. They are multi-million dollar brands.
Back in the day ad agencies liked to talk about target audiences in terms of huge numbers: 18 to 34, people who make over 100K, black and white. Now targets can be microcosmic. A couple hundred people like something on Facebook and Voila! It’s a target audience. Odd minorities can find likeminded friends online. People who were reluctant to identify with a certain group now seize the opportunity. We relish in fetish.
I wonder. Can big data really mean anything when everyone is so damn unique? Yet, fashions and trends have always changed. That’s what they do. That’s what makes life so interesting, even if it is increasingly tough on advertisers. (Good thing we have so many planners to help us figure it out.)
Back to the braces thing. When I was a kid I had to get them. And I hated every minute of it. Not only were braces painful and gross but they were also considered just about the most uncool thing on earth. Now my girls were asking for them! OMG. What happened? Yes, technology made them a little less painful and gross. But still. Maybe it had something to do with all those ridiculous grills hip hop stars began sporting in the eighties. Braces became a status symbol. Now a right of passage. Like you’re a dork if you don’t have them.
Sometimes seismic shifts in coolness have obvious origins. Take bicycles and electric cars. Not too long ago no young person would have selected either, if they could have Dad’s old Honda instead. Thank you Global warming.
But the snaggletooth craze in Japan? Inexplicable. Especially when you consider that for so long the Japanese culture was known for order and symmetry. Yet there are reasons for this bizarre altering of the zeitgeist and even if we don’t comprehend them they are real.
As fate would have it, about half way through the designated time frame I was supposed to wear my braces I pried them off with needle-nose pliers. I’m not kidding. Subsequently, my bottom teeth remain crooked to this day. But maybe I was just ahead of my time. After all, in Japan my mouth is now SUPER AWESOME!
I have not watched a single episode of Mad Men this year. Last few seasons I watched every one. I wrote about them on my blog. I Tweeted. I shared.
Why no interest this year? Maybe I’m too busy –a new home, a new job. But I had those things last year and they were even newer. Besides, the show is on Sunday night. With DVR and Internet, I could watch it whenever I want, anyway. That’s how I found time for The Walking Dead and Party Down.
Too busy is not the reason.
Frankly, I think it’s because I don’t care anymore. Better said, I lost interest. I moved on. Moreover, I have a hunch a lot of other people did too. I don’t know the ratings. But I’m willing to bet they are down. Maybe even way down.
What causes that? I wonder if there’s a psychological reason. I wonder if it’s a marker for something in the zeitgeist. Could it be the anti-hero as portrayed by Don Draper is fading from fashion in popular culture?
It’s possible we’ve had enough of melancholy and dubious motives. Are we over the beautiful downer? The Zenith may have been Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight.
After considering that character, to say nothing of Heath Ledger’s Joker, what comes after? And so Batman has given way to a rowdier bunch of heroes. Thor, Captain America and Iron Man are ambivalent studs but their moral compasses are a lot more aligned than Batman’s or Don draper’s. I suppose Tony Stark has some issues but still…
My hunch are shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad and Mad Men have run their course. We may be entering a period where we want more ‘together’ heroes. Let the bad guys be riddled with doubt and pain.
It will be interesting, then, so see how the latest installment of Superman fares, Man of Steel. Director, Zach Snyder recently was quoted saying “Superman must be taken seriously.” Maybe so… Having seen only the trailers, I think Clark Kent won’t be vexed by the dark side; rather I think his problem will be hiding his super powers in a world that desperately needs them.
That’s a very different dilemma than Don Draper’s. The titular ad man wants to be a better person but keeps slipping. While I most certainly can relate I’m just not in the mood for it right now. Are you?