Manufacturing Outrage For Profit in 10 Easy Steps
- Miley Cyrus is a 20 year old American female actress and popstar. She rose to prominence by appearing in the children’s TV show Hannah Montana on The Disney Channel, and by initially marketing herself as a family friendly alternative to more raunchy pop acts.
- Robin Thicke is a 36 year old American male popstar. While having considerable success as a songwriter for a wide range of popular acts for over a decade, until 2013 his solo career had failed to make any significant impact.
- Beats Electronics is a producer of consumer audio products. It was founded by rapper and hip-hop producer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine. Their most successful product line to date was the ‘Beats By Dre’ series of headphones, which drew upon Dre’s often controversial reputation as the producer of Eminem and the founder of the influential gangsta rap outfit Niggaz Wit Attitudes to give the line an air of edgy/urban cool.
- In January 2013 Beats Electronics released the Beats Pill, a personal speaker system designed for use with smart phones and personal music players.
- In June 2013 Miley Cyrus released the single “We Can’t Stop”. Its accompanying video created controversy by showing the usually family friendly Cyrus being sexually provocative whilst apparently under the influence of drugs and singing about ‘molly’ — an American slang term for the popular street drug Ecstacy. Ecstacy is normally distributed and consumed in pill form.
- The video for “We Can’t Stop” features prominent product placement for the Beats Pill.
- In March 2013 Robin Thicke released the single “Blurred Lines”. Its accompanying video created controversy by featuring the star cavorting with topless models wearing skin coloured underwear to give the impression they are naked, whilst Thicke sings lyrics that appear to present him as a sexual predator.
- The video for “Blurred Lines” features prominent product placement for the Beats Pill.
- On August 25th Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke appeared together on stage at the Video Music Awards to perform “Blurred Lines.” It seemed to be an unusual pairing, as the only real connection between the two seems to be the sponsorship by Beats Electronics. Seen by over 10 million TV and internet viewers, the performance created considerable commentary and outrage due to Cyrus’ highly sexual and provocative performance. For nearly 48 hours after the performance it dominated discussion on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, placing higher in trending topics charts than the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria and the continuing controversy over US government monitoring of Internet communication.
- Less than 24 hours after the performance, Beats Electronics released a TV commercial/Internet viral showing two CGI anthropomorphic Beats Pills discussing the performance and featuring clips of both the Thicke and Cyrus videos.
Note: You may be wondering why, as a science fiction writer, I would have any interest in this topic. My story Limited Edition argues that most celebrity entertainment exists primarily to create interest and outrage in order to sell consumer products, and that this is the dominant driving force behind cultural production in early 21st century networked global society.
A bit like how I just slipped a plug for my writing into this article.