i got walloped with the cluestick the other day by npr’s story on the ‘boy band’ 2gether:

“Another boy band? Hardly. 2gether is sort of a Spinal Tap for the turn of the century. The group was “created” as a parody of such boy bands as N’Sync. A mockumentary called, 2gether, aired on MTV earlier this year and a strange thing happened. The parody band generated 300 fan Webster; the soundtrack hit the charts; and Britney Spears asked the parodists to open for her last tour. It gets weirder. The musicians have started to take themselves seriously.”

why the cluestick? first, because i had no idea that this thing was going on. absofreakinlutely no idea. this can mean only one thing. i’m old. i’m the man. i don’t have kids, but i’m sure my dogs are thinking, “jeez, this guy is out of it.”

secondly, this whole story plays perfectly into the hands of douglas rushkoff’s characterization of the range of response to the act of coercive marketing in his book, coercion:

“Currently there are three levels of response to coercion, which can exist simultaneously in our culture. Some of us are readily fooled by the simplest of manipulative techniques. These people, who I call “Traditionalists,” are the sort of folks who are emotionally moved by politicians’ speeches, dedicated to their local sports teams, and ready to believe that government agencies would prevent us from being duped by misleading advertisements.

The next group – who marketers like to call “sophisticated” audiences – feels they understand how the media hope to manipulate them. These “Cool Kids” respond to coercive techniques that acknowledge their ironic detachment. Their television remote controls and video game controllers have changed their relationship to the television tube. They like to deconstruct every image that is piped into their homes. But they fall for the wink wink, nudge nudge plea of the modern advertiser or salesperson who appeals to their media-savvy wit. As long as the coercer admits with a sideways glance that he’s coercing, the Cool Kid is likely to take the bait. He is being rewarded for his ironic attitude.

The last group has graduated from the culture of cool and is just plain fed up with everything that has a trace of manipulation. The “New Simpletons” want straightforward, no-nonsense explanations for what they’re supposed to buy or do.”

if you want a perfect illustration of a prepubescent sophisticated audience, listen to the story.

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