Thursday, 29 September 2011

On The Train

A commute is a pretty subconscious part of my day. More so in the morning, which for some sleepyheads is understandable. But on the way home things are the complete polar opposite. You are self-conscious, completely aware, and if you're like me, acutely paranoid. It is on these journeys home - in the space of fifteen minutes between the train arriving and leaving again - that we are plagued, as per bloody usual, by adverts. Any fellow Vis-Commers would agree, adverts are pretty much the devil with a plastic sheen and a dead smile. But these adverts were something different today. Yes they were selling a product, as they all do, and yes they were all selling a lifestyle. But these three particular adverts for the latest hardback books all had something in common.

Their main protagonist (blatantly hinted at in these adverts) is an assassin. What intrigued me today was the curiosity one would indulge in about this protagonist. The hard man, the impenetratable, calculated and remorseless character that we find so many few of in the real world. They're a bit like ninjas. But still these books sell by the thousands, and their audience (the commuter, more often the male) will desire that inpenetratable shell of a hit man.

For me these adverts are targeting the sensitive male confidence, which may not become apparent above the surface of these books and their advertising campaigns.

They're generating an ideal that the modern man should be unfasable, confident, strong, yet hidden, disguised a hero. The question I' am asking is this: Is the protagonist (the assassin) being dressed up as a hero?. If a book is to take a villainous and dangerous murderer and describe in descriptive depth his lifestyle, his day as heroic and deadly, it is a sad shame these books do sell by the bucket load.

Commuters buy these adverts, and then they buy the book. And then they read the book on the train alongside strangers with their machines. And then they finally imagine themselves as this character.

Now what I' am not saying is imagining one's self as such a despicable character is an aspiration or desire, because there is a very big difference between an aspiration and a fantasy. Neither am I saying that these books are wrong or shouldn't be written, published, mass printed, distributed and sold to the public. Because they probably should, it's supply and demand.

Maybe my conclusion is that violence is a form of pornography.

It's just that Freudian fascination that's deep set in our brain boxes that feeds curiosity, whether it's reading a John Grisham hit man killer thriller book or watching Saw 2.

Advertisers earn money to prey on our human nature, but there are many that know better. Because we're not stupid at all. Generations are evolving with more intelligence, so don't assume that we're bears wandering in to traps.

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