Ervin Goffman thought we participate in “presentation of self” meaning we are not showing who we truly are but showing others what they want to see in us. This means we have a side to us that is for show and we use it in social situations. The film Merchants of Cool had many examples of when the teenagers where changing their actions and preferences when they saw a new brand trending or after watching the new music videos. An example being when teenagers who participated in a wild spring break became popular on MTV shows the actions displayed became a norm in the teen population. Meaning the teenagers who did not act this way before conformed to the new ” self ” that is popular and pleases their peers. This also demonstrated how interactions during certain points in your life influences how we develop and act, as theorized by George Herbert Mead.
These hunters where collecting information about the teenage population such as the clothing they like. And they are said to study teens uniquely by corresponded Douglas Rushkoff when he said, ” they study them carefully as an anthropologist would an exotic native culture”. They used this data to support the markets that target teens and young adults. While the use of the “hunters” data provided valuable support to develop the next trend or grab the attention of the target population. The “hunters” played a role in exploiting the teens individual ideas, making it harder for these original trend setters to express themselves. The ” giant feedback loop” described by Frontline corresponded Douglas Rushkoff is an endless loop where young teenagers contribute to these new trends via the “hunters”. Then marketers use these ideas while gaining capital and intensifying the original ideas, influencing the teen population. Only to again use the teenager’s ideas this loop causes more disruption and falsities within the teen subculture.
Marketers are not truly concerned with their target populous. Executives and producers like Neal Montitz who stated, ” If you’re making the same thing that everyone else is making then you don’t have much chance of getting people to come to your movie.” Are not focused on the effects of their marketing only the aspects that increase their return. These marketers do not directly answer to the consumers because they are impacting the target populations opinions and preferences. I am convinced that they only answer to the numbers. If the product or service is not selling then they change their approach or reevaluate the data. When a market researcher analyzes what a teenager may respond to they tend to have a closed mind unlike with adults. The WB Network president of entertainment said ” teenagers talk about sex. Teenagers are consumed with sex” so what would their main theme to grab the teenager’s attention be, sex. Someone marketing to the adult population would not just use sex as a subject to grab their attention, they would use a variety of topics.
The MTV research process included both participant observation and observing participants. They used students in schools to market and research their ideas while also using collective data from other resources. When MTV completed their research, they came up with two main personas one being a “Mook”. Which is the average teenaged male him being loud and crude. They placed this formulated persona on every show aired on there network. The other being the “Midriff” who is the female counter persona with her being a female consumed with her appearance. The use of “cool hunters” to gather data leads to the undermining and disruption of true teenage culture. When the subcultures who did not agree with the marketing angles grew in popularity, the market took advantage of this and began researching and marketing to these cultures as well. When anyone wants to express their true self, they should not look for any examples of who they want to be but look at themselves for who they really are and what they really like.
The documentary has confirmed what I know about the medias role in who we are and how we think. It also gave me information on how and why these marketers target certain populations. When Frontline corresponded Douglas Rushkoff said ” who is mirroring whom” it opened my eyes. The fact that we are unsure if we are impacting the media or if the media is impacting us is an alarming thought. I agree with two main views for socialization and personality development. Jean Piaget thought child development is shaped through social interaction and without the interactions a person would not develop language, sympathy and other qualities that make us human. I find this true based on the documentary without the first interactions children had with the media a lot of the actions that the teens where displaying would not be so common among the population. I also agree with Charles Cooley who developed the idea of the ” looking glass self”. Throughout the documentary the teenagers displayed how the thoughts and actions of others impact the way they feel and act. During the film the teenagers changed their actions when they knew the cameras where watching, putting on a show that is desirable among the younger population. All these ideologies have led me to feel somewhat less of an individual. Although I know no one person has the same interactions throughout their lives. Many aspects of our lives are shaped by culture, and social interactions which means we are less individuals and can be placed in collective units