Wednesday, 6 May 2009

i hope your empowerment kills you

I love the internet. Especially blogs. Sure, there are an awful lot of crap blogs out there - sometimes I like to go through the blog navigation on blogger's homepage looking for just one that I find interesting - but every once in a while you find a gem. I always find good blogs on the blogroll of blogs I already like - its how I recently discovered David Barrie's blog, which I like an awful lot. His recent post on empowerment is especially amusing. I like how it's a bit all over the place, a bit stream of consciousness, a bit random, and yet it still manages to pack a big ideological punch.

You can check it out here or read below:

This is a picture of acting teacher Robert Galinsky.

Galinsky runs what's called The World's First Reality TV School.

In his classes in New York, Galinsky trains people to win auditions and get on to reality TV shows.

In a recent edition of the London Financial Times, Galinsky gives some amazingly useful tips on how to get on in life, not just telly:

if you are constantly interacting with other people, making conversation and doing something interesting, then the camera will keep coming back to you

He says wisely of his students:

What I'm doing is preparing them for the butcher's shop they are about to walk into.

And he's got a very specific clientele:

We get people having a mid-life crisis, people in abusive relationships or newly divorced, people just out of prison looking to make a new start, aspiring models, actors, housewives, even people who are caring for sick parents, looking for a release.

What does Galinsky do?

Here's the clincher: I'm empowering people.

This is an advertisement for the drinks company Innocent.

Two weeks ago, the (supposedly) anti-corporate company announced that Coca-Cola are buying a £30m ($43m) stake.

The investment will help Innocent find distribution networks overseas and overcome a dive in financial earnings.

Last week, a report in the London Sunday Times quoted a senior executive from Coca-Cola responding to worries of an imbalance of power between the two companies:

Quincey said that be believes in "empowerment" and that he is betting on Innocent's founders to drive the future.

Here's an image of Robert Venturi from a book that reproduces a seminal trip the architect made to Las Vegas with Denise Scott Brown in 1968.

Yes, it's a sexy image of super-60s American styling.

Yes, it ticks every box of the romantic creative searching for truth.

But I've another question: is this an emblematic image of the last "empowered" person alive?

For in an age when everyone and everything seems to "empower" everyone and everything else, I assume that at the end of a rainbow - or at the end of a track in the Nevada Desert - there's an all-powerful super-God, an ultimate winner empowered to wonder at and take on the world.

There's a dull as ditch water BBC Radio 4 or NPR show to be had on this subject.

But maybe there's a simpler solution.

Can I exploit all of your latent power to make a decision?

Your innate ability to move on?

And can I empower you, me and the planet through this blog to do one thing....

...and drop the word "empowerment"?

Because if the word applies to people finding ways and means to maximizing their celebrity or is a way to rationalize a commercial partnership or business strategy, it may just have lost its meaning, something more righteous and real than a number 27 bus.


Anonymous said...

reading that last paragraph I am reminded this sweltering afternoon of two passages from texts I discovered as a young man (wheezing modernity and its industrious language, its words, described by a philosophical Southerner as "rubbed smooth and unrecognizable and the new currency not yet minted") and as a young boy (I will sing unto the Lord a new song). Not yet minted.

Speaking of mint, nothing goes better with it than bourbon. But you don't have to take my word for it.

Anonymous said...

wow, I feel empowered to know that you are... JADED and very SIMPLE. anyone can write a blog and choose a word like 'empower' and create a snarky cynical number of paragraphs... and you're leading example has just 'empowered' others to do likewise and be as vacant. :)

The Philosopher said...

Swear to God, my little ferret-faced fan of tom-FOOLERY, 'twas not I!

All my efforts and being spent in trying to keep the civilised world as we know it running without collapse or fear of implosion.

Phoenicia said...

Ouch. Vacant, jaded, cynical, snarky, and simple all in one. I've been damned to blogger comment hell by an anonymous anti-fan.

Well, I certainly won't take that lying down. I think you missed the point. Did you even read what I wrote? Did you read what David wrote? Just to spell it out for you (yes, that's a bit patronising, but I'll put a smiley face here :) and then you'll feel better about it), there's nothing cynical, jaded, or snarky about laughing at corporate branding thugs trying to redefine the concept of empowerment. I'm all for linguistic manipulation and evolution - you'll not find an advocate of an English-styled Office québécois de la langue française in me - yet I still like the point Barrie makes about the meaninglessness of a word like empowerment if it can be used by D-list celebrity gurus and blue-sky thinking management consultants.

Since when did asking questions = being simple?

max_in_arcadia said...

Hey, hey, HEY!!!! What's wrong with management consultants?!