Saturday, 31 December 2016

When you wish upon a Death Star

I will probably not watch Rogue One, at least not pay to watch it. Actually, no, it’s more than probably; the franchise lost any fascination for me after the first two. But I’m sure I will encounter the force of the millions of words which will be written about it... none of which matter one little bit. I get it, it’s a classic saga of good versus evil, love will overcome, be nice, be loyal, you don’t always get what you want, surprise twist, equality, diversity, happy-clappy, return of the Nazis, trouble with socialism, perseverance wins, don’t get your hopes up, American values, anti-American values, boo capitalism, shame about the liberals, don’t trust the establishment, the establishment are the only ones you can trust, morality tale.

Some of words will bewail the Disneyfication of Lucas’s vision, others will praise it; most will miss the point. Big-grossing blockbusters influence our culture, but to what extent is this deliberate and how much is it the mere mirroring of trends already there in embryo? We may never know, but there is no doubt that future-shaping is at the heart of big money. They used to call it marketing, which implied putting the offers out there and promoting them by repeated exposure creating a desire to own. But a curious side effect was that consumers not only want to own a phenomenon, they want to live it; they want to be it. Which is where outfits like Trend Bible come in.

On their website they state: ‘Trend Bible is a home and interiors dedicated trend agency, working with inquisitive, recognised brands to predict change.’ But how much of the raisons d'être of  ‘trend agencies’ is pure prediction and how much is to do with cause and effect? Are they genuinely forecasting or actually influencing? It’s easy to claim clairvoyance when your forecasts are suitably vague – ‘we see autumn shades with maybe a splash of more ‘vibrant’ highlights, reflecting our optimism/pessimism/indifference and home technology will be big... except for those who deliberately choose otherwise...’ I was listening to this bull on Radio 4 yesterday lunchtime and it got me thinking.

Trend Bible are one of the new style of pointless 'experts' who charge clients £1200 for their trend forecasting book which claims to predict two years in advance, what people will want to do with their homes. TB says ‘Whether it’s social, cultural or taste-driven, our job is to find out which future trends will impact your business and help you capitalise on them.’ This is the easy bit; having paid for your forecast the next thing is to make it and sell it, otherwise you wasted 1200 quid. But this is paltry in comparison to the mega-corps. Disney don’t just make movies, they imagine a whole new world and make you want to live there. You buy the tee-shirt, get the action figures and become the hero.

Don't worry, the Empire has promised to only use the death star for civilian purposes.

It’s politics, isn’t it? Polls long since abandoned the fruitless task of forecasting your preferences and are now used to tell you what those preferences ought to be. So, my prediction for 2017 is that politics will continue to shovel the same seven tons of bullshit into your ears and sell you the same old stories disguised as aspiration and participation. Wear the right rosette and your dreams could come true. Unless, of course, you are cleverer than that and don’t fall for their lies. Are you? Are you cleverer than that? If so, this is how you should vote...

PS: Since Obama has been handed his arse on a pate by Putin and Merkel has grudgingly admitted she may have been wrong about opening the borders wide, the two big stories of 2017 will still be Brexit and Trump. You heard it here first... wanna buy my trend book?

1 comment:

  1. This film is different from the rest of the franchise; its not just aimed at children and the main theme is the compromises that must be made by even the 'good' side in order to win a war.

    If Disney really does understand trends then 2017 then heaven help us all. I don't think we'd truly care to live in Rogue One's world.