Get all your Bullshit Observer updates wherever you want them. Put them on your blog, on your MySpace page, your Facebook page, whatever. All you have to do is click the image and go to Widgetbox.
Posted by Todd on August 28, 2008 at 02:15 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Together with some friends, I have a new blog creation called The Conceptualist. The topic will be completely fresh ideas and it will feature the same whimsical analysis that you've come to expect from The Bullshit Observer. The idea of The Conceptualist is not just to notice new things, but to celebrate brave thinkers and to marvel at their creations.
How is this different, you ask?
Well, I think it's probably the only blog I've seen that lives entirely in the world of ideas. It's not just about highlighting bizarre new inventions like Geekology. It's not about displaying new products like bazillions of blogs out there. It's about taking the new ideas and turning them over in our minds and seeing how they got that way and what they could become. It's as much about the why as it is about the what. In short, it's about conceptualism - the act of seeing past what is there to what could be and talking about it.
Incidentally, the header image is my friend's daughter, Sophie swimming underwater.
This means, of course, that The Bullshit Observer will need to take a back seat for the time being. That means that my posts will be more sporatic. To any regular reader out there, I am sorry to interrupt your BSO experience.
Posted by Todd on June 22, 2008 at 09:18 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This American Life producer Ira Glass delivers an inspirational video message about the arduous process of improving creatively. It's a question of nurturing your good taste and allowing yourself to recognize the disparity between what you think is good and what you're actually doing.
Sometimes this disparity can last for a long time and that can be kind of painful (in Ira's case, over eight years). You have to be able to survive knowing that they're falling short again and again and again. But that good taste combined with a constant stream of projects will get you there eventually provided you never allow yourself to let your ego get the better of you.
Check it out. About 5 minutes.
I started this blog back in 2005 after slogging through five long years of Bush without a place to put my discontent. A sentient being can only withstand so much crap before they either crack, explode or begin to wither. This was, and still is, my way to rage against the machine and institute a small degree of sanity over in my own little tiny nook of the virtual universe.
In short, it's therapy.
As therapy, it has been a huge success. I feel good about these 500 posts. As legitimate opposition to the enormous and omnipresent bullshit producing machines in the world, I will say that it has probably had very little impact. I've only had something like 65,000 page views. But, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Slaughterhouse Five, "So it goes."
I am happy that it's out there and that's really all that matters. In fact, from what I've found, I would have had more media popularity if my name was something that media outlets could mention. But that's completely fine with me.
For this 500th post, I wanted to point out ten of my more meaningful (to me) posts.
The Movies Critics Are Raving About: Is about the Hollywood crap machine.
Genders: Man-tradiction?: Is about the changing roles of men today.
I'll make you famous: Is about America's fascination with fame and the industries that it has spawned.
Parents Less Upwardly Mobile These Days: Is about the challenge of a modern workplace for people who put parenting first.
America Needs More Springfields: Is about suburban sprawl and the forces that spawn it.
Advertising Needs A New Agency: Is about how the traditional agency flops around in the digital world.
Enjoy.If you want to comment, feel free. It's nice to know there are people out there sometimes. I'd be writing here either way though. As I said above, this blog is really more for my sanity than anything else.
Thanks for reading!
The Bullshit Observer
Posted by Todd on April 02, 2008 at 12:16 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
To articulate how to come up with an idea is no easy task. And I'll admit that David's explanation is a little oblique. But there's no way around that. No matter what you think of Eraserhead or Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive, you have to admit that David Lynch knows how to be playful with his ideas and has more trust in those ideas than a lot of folks out there. That's what makes his work so rich.
I'm teaching my five year old son about how lying is bad and I'm starting to wonder whether I should just let him do it. Society at large doesn't appear to care about that kind of thing anymore.
The Bush administration made apparently false and misleading statements in court about the White House e-mail controversy, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
The US Army confirms that thousands of soldiers are cheating on online tests for promotions.
At an PR industry event in London, in a poll of the audience of over 260 PR executives, the majority (138) voted against the motion that "PR has a duty to tell the truth."
A new scanning program has identified 76 cases of outright plagiarism among professors (not students) of biomedicine.
Top PR firm, Edelman, was recently outted as having a media training course for execs that states, ""Sometimes, you just have to stand up there and lie. Make the audience or the reporter believe that everything is ok."
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom noted that during the run up to the 2006 election, his blackberry buzzed almost daily with threat level notifications from the Department of Homeland Security. When the election was over, they stopped.
Maybe it's a result of having two equally passionate sides on both sides of the political spectrum for the past seven years. Or maybe it's because the educational system has broken down to such a degree that it's just too easy and tempting to manipulate the masses for our own gains. Whatever the reason, it seems that American culture has reached a worrying threshold where the constant whirring of our spin cycle completely drowns out the sober voices of truth.
If those voices are even speaking anymore.
There used to be a time when truth mattered to people. It wasn't simply because of the sentimental notion that truth is honerable. No, it's because truth served a function. In fact, it was one of the lynchpins of our social structure. I would argue that if our society continues to see truth as quaint, or merely preferable to lies, then it will go into decline. Some might say that it's already happening.
It's as if our society has termites. The spin masters get into everything and, with every lie they tell, slowly eat away at the structure. It's gotten to the point where these pests are everywhere we turn. Every news outlet, every politician's speech, every commercial break, every single place you rest your eyeballs there is someone telling you something that ain't exactly true. I'd call an exterminator if I thought they could actually handle a problem of this magnitude.
Furthermore, it's really starting to get in the way of our ability to make decisions and navigate the world. For example, we needed truth in order to make the right decisions about Iraq. Instead we got lies and half-truths which led us to the incorrect decision. Let's invade! Whoops. Now America and Britain are stuck in a bog. Tons of people dead.
Truth iis also vital to our well-being as individuals.
We need to know what to eat, what to drink, where to live, how to dress for the weather, and how close they are to the nearest fault line. Without truth about these matters, we might be drinking water from contaminated springs, eating beef with mad cow disease, dressing for summer on a rainy day and living in a house that's about to slide down a mountain. Wherever there's a buck to be made, it seems, there's someone willing to lie their ass off in order to make it.
My point? Well, just that we, as a people, should care more about the truth. Really really care about it. Put it up on a pedestal and worship the truth. Celebrate the truth. Write songs about the truth.
We cannot survive without it.
With that in mind, we SIMPLY MUST hold the liars accountable for their transgressions. They are assaulting our sense of reality and hindering our ability to operate. Without this accountability, we will lose our bearings as a society and as individuals.
Posted by Todd on March 08, 2008 at 10:22 PM in Ad Critique, Advice To Clients, Agency Life, American Lifestyles, Books, Companies Who Lie, Conservative V. Liberal, Corporate-ocracy, Current Affairs, Enemy Combatants, Health, Language, Magazines, Movies, Parenting, Politics, Pop Culture, Products, Radio Ads, Religion, Science, Television, The Environment, The President, The War | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Sometimes I get emails from strangers. Usually they either point me in the direction of some bullshit to observe, call me out on my own crapness, or send me thoughts. This email from creativity expert Michael Michalko (see bio below) falls into that last category. It's from his Amazon.com blog and is about how creativity is essentially educated out of us.
My favorite line from this is that, "We enter school as a question mark and we leave as a period." So true. Everything at school points to knowing answers rather than embracing the questions and the possibilities. We are pushed, prodded, and incentivised to forget about the state of unknowing and the curiosity that flourishes there and answer the freakin' question. Number two's out. Stop talking. Heads down. Go. Stop. Get out of here.
We were all born spontaneous and creative. Every one of us. As children we accepted all things equally. We embraced all kinds of outlandish possibilities for all kinds of things. When we were children we knew a box was much more than a container. A box could be a fort, a car, a tank, a cave, a house, something to draw on, and even a space ship. Our imaginations were not structured according to some existing concept or category. We did not strive to eliminate possibilities, we strove to expand them. We were all amazingly creative and always filled with the joy of exploring different ways of thinking..And then something happened to us, we went to school. In school we were taught how past thinkers interpreted the world. We were not taught how to think, we were taught to reproduce what past thinkers thought. When confronted with a problem, we were taught to analytically select the most promising approach based on past history, excluding all other approaches, and to work within a carefully defined direction towards a solution. Instead of looking for possibilities, we are taught to look for ways to exclude them. It’s as if we entered school as a question mark and graduated as a period..Consider a child building something with a Lego construction set. She can build all kinds of structures and when she's finished she can pick up pieces and move them, add more pieces, divide structures into new structures and so on. There are clear constraints on the set and construction. They cannot be put together any which way, they will not stay together if unbalanced and gravity pulls them apart. These constraints are inherent in the objects and their design. It is the design of the pieces that imposes these limitations. The child quickly learns the ways the Legos go together and the ways they don't go together. She ends up building a wide variety of structures that satisfy the Legos design and constraints..If the only constraint were making something out of plastic and the child had at her disposal every method of melting and molding plastic, the Lego constructions themselves would be only a tiny fraction of the possible products, and would make the Lego constructions look contrived and unmotivated when compared to her other products..With Legos it is the constraints that are inherent in the design that limits what can be built. With us it is the constraints that are inherent in the system of thinking we are taught that limits our imagination and inventiveness. This system was designed by Aristotle in ancient Greece. It is predicated on the belief that thought is determinate and exclusionary, whereas, paradoxically, creative thinking is indeterminate and inclusionary..Perhaps this is what Thomas Edison meant when he said that his greatest blessing in life was his lack of “formal” education.
I have my kid in a school that has embraced his premise. Instead of teaching kids the way things are done, they teach kids about problems and let them solve them. Or how to create their own problems and discover the solutions for those. Their philosophy is to bring out the genius in every kid. Something I think Edison would have approved of, methinks.
Michael is the author of the best-seller THINKERTOYS: A HANDBOOK OF CREATIVE THINKING TECHNIQUES, Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Set designed to facilitate brainstorming sessions, and Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Geniuses. Check them out over here....
(Hat tip to Orlando for this gem)
Sometimes we advertising people get lazy. I'll admit it. Sometimes all we want is to create a nice little framework for user-generated submissions and call it a day. Maybe head to the movies or off to the driving range for a basket of balls and a martini. The people create the ads, see, exactly the way we ask them to. And they do it for free. Clients love free and some people love to get involved with their favorite brands. Sometimes they even consider it as a permanent career.
People like, well, like Alex Perez for example.
I don't know if this is some kind of funny-man routine or not, but my guess is not. Alex has put up a site that promotes him as a spokesperson using his user-submitted videos for things like Kraft Singles MySpace promotion as examples of his work. He claims to be a man on the cutting edge of today's youth culture and, though his video submissions didn't win any actual prizes, he isn't shy about suggesting that he might be able to help brands that he loves connect with the young people of today. The youth culture. The hipsters. He has seven ways he plans to do that:
1) Act as a company spokesman at the X-Games
2) One-on-one coaching with Senior Management about how to understand today's youth culture.
3) Pervade Gen-Y parties, clubs and gatherings to spread company's message.
4) Help improve your company's internet identity.
5) Bring your company's slogans into the 21st century.
6) Create, star in, or consult on a hit viral video
7) Help recruit, retain, and reward Generation Y.
Apparently that's not all he's offering to do. Here's a video of Alex on Youtube where he is offering to cross the WGA picket lines to help craft the comedy for the Oscars. Oy!