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Why the Sunday Times Is Not a Pop-Culture Must-Read, Part XXVII July 30, 2006

Posted by David Card in Marketing.

Please, somebody, after you read this monstrously silly 7,000 word piece in the Times Sunday Magazine, explain to me why the story’s subjects are “brands” rather than boutiques?

    The answer he came up with is worth paying attention to because it speaks to a significant but little-noted development in contemporary culture. Young people have always found fresh ways to rebel, express individuality or form subculture communities through cultural expression: new art, new music, new literature, new films, new forms of leisure or even whole new media forms. A-Ron’s preferred form of expression, however, is none of those things. When he talks about his chosen medium, which he calls aNYthing, it sounds as if he’s talking about an artists’ collective, indie film production company, a zine or a punk band. But in fact, aNYthing is a brand. A-Ron puts his brand on T-shirts and hats and other items, which he sells in his own store, among other places. He sees it as fundamentally of a piece with the projects and creations of his anti-mainstream heroes.

A-Ron, btw, appears to be a total — I better type “jerk” rather than the obvious. And Our Reporter has it both ways, allowing A-Ron’s own cred-killing (or is it?) petard hoisting. Uhhhh, I guess that passes for irony, Beavis, but it sure makes you wonder why we were fooled into sticking with the article to the end:

    “My whole thing now is if you don’t sell out, you sell out on yourself,” he went on to announce. If he could get the money, the resources, he could go bigger, with more creative projects, reaching more people — and he wouldn’t worry about being called a sellout. He raised his eyebrows for emphasis: “I was cool before this thing happened. It didn’t make me cool.” It’s a line of thought that many cultural rebels come around to, sooner or later. “We’re here,” he told me, “to do business.”
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