virus: Re: hidden *sex* persuader *sex*

Ken Pantheists (
Fri, 09 May 1997 23:02:57 -0700

Gifford wrote:

Questions I'd have for the list would be:

1. Do you think "Hidden Persuaders" are memes ... or just hooks for
infection. I think of them as the protein shells that get the cell to
accept the viral DNA...

Me: I certainly see them as memes-- because, of course, everything is a
meme. I agree that they have these "protein shell" qualities but I think
it's because they evoke a world in which the meme works 100% of the
time. The guy twists the cap off the beer and gets the girl and the
admiration of his male competitors-- 100% of the time. We know this
because when the world is tweeked a little , say in a spoof of the
memeset, we see it from a different point of view. Remember the Saturday
night live sketch where Dana Carvey and Chris Farley twist the cap off
their beers and a bunch of Chippendale Dancers come out of the pool? The
catch phrase: "Just because your gay doesn't mean you don't like beer."
(or something to the effect) BTW I'm pretty sure this spoof was done in
response to several major breweries refusing to send promotional
material (clocks, neon signs, pool table lights) to bars that are
notoriously gay.

2. I've never read Dr. Keys book, but assuming that he proposes
action against the use of Hidden Persuaders what do you think that
should be? Do you agree with my contention that denying the use of the
hook just makes it more virulent?

Censorship would certainly make it more "novel". No such thing as bad
press and all that. (oops, I think I just transmitted a meme I don't
fully believe-- I'll have to think on that one.)

But cracking open that world, or disassembling it has an interesting
effect. Some commercials are already exploiting this-- the fragility of
the commercial persuader--!! I clearly spend too much time looking at
commercials because I have two more examples.

Remember the (draws a blank on the company) car commercial where they
show the hood of the car?-- black, polished, with the Porsche emblem on
it? Voice over: "It's not a porsche..."

Hand enters fram and REMOVES THE EMBLEM essentially dismantling the
competitor's image.

Shows a Mercedes Benz emblem on a black hood. "It's mot a mercedes
either..." Hand removes THAT emblem and so on and so on.

The other example is another beer commercial were the woman narrates the
whole thing saying this is HER beer commercial that she wrote and shot.
It shows her with her friends-- she's a "one of the guys" kind of girls.
The final line-- " Kind of weird huh? A girl TALKING in a beer

3. Most people are not going to care about memetics one way or the
Since evolution <and PR,
and advertising> works on margins will memetic immunities become
and disappear from world views .. or will they operate in a cyclic
kind of like flu antibodies? Another way to phrase this question would
do you think that fifties sit-coms and commercials could ever be viewed
classics to be emulated rather than camp?

I'm not sure I'm getting what you said. I think it is a fallacy to think
that you can develop immunity to a meme. You can develop countermemes.
Immunity (to my ear) smacks of ignoring a meme.

To your 50s sit com observation-- Yes, i think material does get
re-used, part of the endlessly derivitive nature of our media, either by
re-invention (Clever=Brady) or by appropriation (June does the housework
in full leather gear and a simple strand of pearls)