Subliminals XVII: Harvard Business Redux
“Tell the men of the East to look out for the men of the West. The irrepressible Yank is knocking at the doors of their temples and he will want to sell ‘em carpet-sweepers for their harems and electric light plants for their temple shrines.” (Frank Norris, The Octopus)
After you read this new essay on subliminal advertising, I am confident you will be aware that the connection between the above quote and the essay is at best flimsy. In this the quote does no differ in the least from the usage in the publishing market, where publishing houses remunerate editing staff specialized in irrelevant and shallow quotations – the shallower the better. But the above quote also differs from the usual practice inasmuch as it is largely irrelevant but not at all shallow.
That quotation business reminds me of some author’s 6-page (!) Acknowledgments at the end of his book. He does not acknowledge his editors’ quotation job (there are no chapter-heading quotations in that one) but he is so frank and scrupulous in his thankyous to his “ghostwriter,” “editor,” “senior editor,” “researchers,” to Mr so-and-so for the title of the book, and for such and such idea in the book, and for the very idea of the book, and so on and so forth, that one realizes after perusing this that the author’s contribution is at most that single acknowledgments section, and his name on the cover.
Yet I have got another quote for you, which will reverberate with the former one over these intercalary considerations of mine.
“James Joyce’s book [Finnegans Wake] is about the electrical retribalization of the West and the West’s effect on the East: The West shall shake the East awake. …while ye have the night for morn … Joyce’s title refers directly to the Orientalization of the West by electric technology and to the meeting of East and West.” (Marshall McLuhan, War and Peace in the Global Village)
Harem or, more precisely, Purdah: A man who wants to see the world with his own eyes needs baggage consignment.
Cases 109 to 113 are taken once again from Harvard Business Review (for previous HBR cases see here). The issue is October 2016. It is extremely important to deal with cerebral material because, as you know, zombies must be shot in the head. (“Cerebral” refers to “Harvard,” of course, not to “Business.”)
……………Case 109 Eva Air SEX
Eva Air is a Taiwanese airline company. The hostess has just served the passenger his meal and invites him to enjoy it by a gesture of the hand. Her other hand is concealed by copy; given how that other hand is positioned, one may think she holds something in it, for otherwise the hand would not be, as it is, somewhat lifted in the air but rather down along her body, but as she probably needed both her hands to carry the trail, and besides one sees no object whatever, coffee pot or anything like that, some parts of which would be sticking out of the concealing copy insert, in fact both hands are empty. Consequently, the concealed hand is making the same gesture as the visible hand, and what the hostess is inviting the customer to enjoy is not his meal but herself: she opens her arms to him and his embrace. This is a first subliminal effect.
Then there is a subliminal effect with the visible hand too. As you can see, a glass of wine placed between the hand and the photograph (and viewer) creates by refraction an optical illusion on the hostess’ visible hand. Through the glass, part of her forefinger is seen bigger as it is. Your brain, by experience, normally corrects such illusions and in fact, looking quickly at the picture you will not even notice (in the sense of paying attention to) the altered proportions. I beg you pay attention to these and carefully consider the object you now see. I have outlined the subliminal embed (picture 109-3) but did a poor job with the computer mouse and am convinced you can see the penis better on the “blank” picture (109-2). The glass swells the finger’s phalange into the shape of a penis glans, to which the other phalanges provide the shaft. The knuckle bone at the finger’s root looks like a testicle.
…………….Case 110 Harvard Business Review’s Online Exclusive SEX
This is an ad for HBR’s online newsletter, dubbed “insider newsletter.” The logo above the copy shows a stylized torso with what seems to be a magic wand – represented as a stick radiating several, multidirectional beams. The object mixes magic and technology, since in the context of modern communication it could be seen as an electric antenna, and the beams as electric or radio waves.
It mixes more than just that. The stick is held in the middle of the torso, not at its margin. If you extend it in imagination, it reaches the groin. The stick is actually a huge erect penis, and it is giving off a massive ejaculate, in several spurts. The spurts are multidirectional because of a vigorous handshake applied to the penis.
……………Case 111 Wharton University of Pennsylvania’s Executive SEX Education
Copy: “Transformation. ‘The moment I knew there were no limitations to what I could achieve’.” In quotation marks, so we know the utterer of these memorable words is the model. The guy’s transformation is rendered by graphic means by the somewhat fuzzy contours of several of his parts, such as his hair and shirt; the fuzziness does not result from my hand trembling while taking the picture, it is in the original. The guy is transforming before our very eyes, and the background, above his head, is no background at all but a thermic, misty halo emanating from his body as a result of energetic processes at the heart of his transformation.
If we believe the copy, this uncanny mutation will enable the lad to overcome all limitations. Now what, according to you, are the obvious limitations of this guy? He doesn’t seem to lack either intelligence or the qualities inherent to a friendly person. On the other hand, he clearly is a geek. Try to imagine a better representation of a hopeless geek… You cannot. The limitations of our buddy here are sexual.
Executive education is often aimed at people with scientific and engineering training who want to make more money and achieve higher status in the organization world to which they are bound, by opening executive positions to them. As trainees in science and engineering, they demonstrated intelligence and a capacity for long studies and hard work. Now it is time to make men of spineless clowns, and this is what executive education is for. As a consequence, the present ad is a mere copycat of Jerry Lewis’s film The Nutty Professor (1963), whose French title, Docteur Jerry et Mister Love, makes obvious the parodic reference of the film to Stevenson’s famous story about a man’s transforming personality – in the original it is the transformation of a respectable notable into a perverse brute, and in the parody the transformation of a geek into a ladykiller. Higher status is the main tool for overcoming males’ sexual limitations, and key to higher status is, they claim, executive education.
…………….Case 112 Wells Fargo SEX
The erotic content of the ad is hardly mistakable. The woman is sexually aroused. I have drawn two straight lines (picture 106-2) to show the tilting of her head. She is about to kiss the man or is inviting him by her attitude to kiss her. Her eyes are half-closed, these are “bedroom eyes” (seductive eyes). Her lips are puckered up. We see a perfectly triangular, dark area on her trousers at the level of genitals as if the fabric were wet with moisture of arousal. The man seems rather indifferent, which means this has happened to him so many times, at every business trip, the lucky guy.
Complement. Among the many preposterous distortions of reality in films of mass consumption, the female character taking sexual initiative is one of the best jokes – even better than female warriors, another recent staple of these products which is such bad taste and so much absurdity, knowing that a man’s slap sends a woman flying meters away (I don’t know this from experience, but I don’t need experience to know that it is so). We owe the ubiquitous initiative-taking woman of the movies to the following consideration. The hero being the man, he must be rewarded – with sex (if he is not rewarded with sex, he is a failure, not a hero). But as a hero, his behavior ought not to evidence the vulgar commonalities of his sex, that is, urgent interest in sexual acts, lechery, womanizing, and prostitutes-seeking. The only way for the film maker to solve the dilemma is to introduce on a systematic basis an initiative-taking female character who rewards the hero with her love and body, toward the middle of the film, while he is fully absorbed in his mission and quest.
……………Case 113 Harvard Business School of SEX and Drugs
Copy: “Where experienced executives become exceptional leaders.” Ex-perienced, ex-ecutives, ex-ceptional: sex, sex, sex.
The black man on the right has a penis embedded on his shirt (picture 113-2).
With his bony finger he points toward the penis of the other black man, showing it to the white guy on the left: “You see that penis?” The penis must be erect, as the guy looks to the girl and gestures toward her as if to grab her. With her left arm, the girl is giving hint of a defensive move, as if to avoid the latter’s assault; this is just a reflex, she perhaps is a little scared by the dimensions of his penis but fundamentally she thinks it is okay to be inseminated by him. (Curiously, the skin color of each of her arms is not the same, the left one being tanned –or hairy!–, the right one being not, as if the former arm were another person’s intending to grab her wrist from under the table. Possibly she is going to be gang raped.)
There is a fifth person on the left, another guy, of whom we only see the hands and shirtsleeves. He holds his pen as a junkie holds a syringe for a shot, with his thumb on top of the piston.
The ad, thus, is about what is needed to make of “experienced executives” tolerable members of the society.
Job outsourcing by multinationals: Everybody knows… but nobody knows who.
As a Comment to Subliminals XIV (here), I wrote: “I will see if I can find multinationals’ job figures by country. Then we will know which countries would be most impacted by automation. We may call Nike an American company but I believe they employ more Chinese than Americans. If this is true, they may contribute a higher share to Chinese economic growth than to American growth and, on the other hand, the automation of Nike factories would impact Chinese work more than American work. [In the mean time I have been looking for Nike job figures by country and did not find them. Hard task, it seems. Probably with some reason…]”
The reason is, I now know, that companies are not compelled to divulge their job figures country by country. That, again, probably with some reason.
“U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a bill that would require publicly-traded corporations to disclose the number of employees they have in the United States and overseas. Under current law, companies must disclose their total number of employees in annual Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Peters’ bill, titled the Outsourcing Accountability Act, wouldn’t create a new regulation, but rather change the existing rule so companies would have to break down their employment figures by nation and state.” (2012) (source)
The bill was voted down.
“Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that ‘U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers… cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million’.” (source)
You bet companies don’t want to break down their job figures! That bill is key. When the American people realize (with figures) that their favorite brands employ 100 or 1.000 or 10.000 times more Chinese than Americans, they will start questioning their approach to consumption, I believe.
Add fiscal outsourcing, which is done by most big companies, as admitted by The Economist, and what I said about American multinationals contributing more to foreign growth than to American growth is wholly warranted: “The volume of money moving through such havens [i.e. “the most tax- and regulation-efficient jurisdictions”] on the way to their final destination has risen sharply since 2000 and currently makes up about 30% of all FDI [foreign direct investment].” (TE, Sep 17th-23rd 2016)
When I say “nobody knows who (does),” whereas all multinationals do, this simply means that people ought to get the figures presented to them in tables ranking the companies from highest to lowest outsourcing figures. Support the Outsourcing Accountability Act.
The Winner Takes All
Wikileaks reveals: “Qatar giving Bill Clinton $1m for 5-minute meeting.” That is some $3.333 per second of presence. At this rate, Bill Clinton earns the same as 2,361,480 average Americans (Mean personal income $44,510, US Census Bureau).
If you take median income ($30,240), he earns as much as 3,475,842 or about 3.5 million average Americans.
Full-time minimum wage in US is $15,080. Bill Clinton earns the same as 6,970,125 or about 7 million American workers at the minimum wage.
The poverty line in US is $11,770. At his Qatari rates, Bill Clinton earns as much as 8,930,287 or about 9 million Americans at the poverty line.
If you know the mean/median income of the 46.7 million Americans below the poverty line (Census Bureau figures for 2014), then you can find how many millions of American paupers Bill Clinton is worth.