Every now and then an actor or acclaimed folk music icon from the '60s "sells out" and the whole world loses its mind, as if we'd never seen a human work for money before. As sad as those moments are, it's even sadder knowing that there are marketing guys in suits behind EVERYTHING ELSE around us. For example ...
5Some Public Protests Are by Hired Hands (and Breasts)
If there's one thing the media love, it's the chance to make pictures of boobs politically relevant. That may or may not be why the Ukrainian feminist protest group FEMEN hit a nerve, since their members are known for spontaneously ripping off their clothes in response to oppression, burqas, Islam, churches, and anything that doesn't have boobs on it. From the media coverage, you could be forgiven for thinking that FEMEN is a grassroots movement of angry women who just happen to hate all forms of fabric. Oh, and that every single member of FEMEN just happens to be young and really attractive.
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They also hate "morals," apparently.
Why is it that all the topless protesters in FEMEN are nubile, taut-skinned women with symmetrical breasts? Wouldn't most organic protest movements accept a healthy mix of stretch marks and wrinkles, maybe an extra nipple here and there? The answer is that there's nothing "organic" about FEMEN, except maybe its members' hair products. Members are usually salaried, are paid to protest, and audition by flashing their breasts. Because nothing says "feminism" like hiring women based on how perky their boobs are.
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"Well, team, I guess the moral of this story is- aw, dammit."
Unfortunately, choosing media attention over the purity of one's cause is not unheard of in American protests, either. You might pass a group of people on the street holding signs and yelling about how we have to ban ducks because they poop in our reservoirs and think, "Well, they're misguided, but at least they're doing what they believe in." But that's not necessarily true: Wealthy groups from all over the political spectrum have been caught paying people to protest their causes. One union that picketed work sites demanding better wages and benefits for employees was found to be using homeless people as hired protesters, paying them $8.50 an hour.
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Clearly, we must hire someone to protest this abuse of homeless people.
4Two Guys Are Behind All Recent Pop Music
When we turn on the radio and hear a pop star singing about losing her pet monkey, we want to believe that the singer did have a monkey, and she did truly lose it. That's the way music is supposed to work: Artists have personal stuff they want to write about, they record songs, and then radio stations play the songs 500,000 times until everyone hates them for existing.
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"Fuck your fucking monkey, Ke$ha."
But it turns out we've been hating the wrong people. Or rather, we've been hating too many people, because most of the iconic hits of the last 10 years were written by the same person. If you have attended a photogenic pool party in the last five years, or even watched a video of a pool party while sitting alone in your house, chances are you were dancing (or crying) mostly to music written by a guy called Dr. Luke. "TiK ToK"? "Dynamite"? "Till the World Ends"? "Wrecking Ball"? Pretty much any song by Katy Perry? They're all the work of this single relatively unfamous songwriter, who has written or co-written 40 hit singles since 2004. Add in Dr. Luke's frequent co-writer Max Martin, and these two guys have pretty much written everything you have ever heard if you were born in 1999.
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I would have mentioned Max Martin first, but clearly he is less respectable because he didn't go to song medical school.
But Martin and Dr. Luke are just the most successful examples of a whole obscure industry: songwriting teams who make their living churning out material for other, more attractive people. Members of these teams can decide whether the song they're writing this week should be aggressive nu-metal or a sassy breakup ballad: For example, a writing group called the Matrix produces songs for both Shakira and Korn, while Max Martin wrote for Backstreet Boys and a Welsh metal group called Bullet for My Valentine.
It might seem dishonest, because for the last few decades we've been conditioned to believe that musicians are singing about their own sexual conquests and trips to the club. But the arrangement works out well for everyone: Performers get near-guaranteed hits, and songwriters get to work in the industry without having to cover themselves in bacon and jump into a pack of wild dogs, or whatever it is singers are doing during live shows these days.
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I think I saw Pink do that once, but it might have been the acid.