By Marty Gleason


I was reviewing an Alicia Keys concert in late 2008 and ironically back then I had considered her to be real, rather than someone who now has a pretentiously high regard for herself and is kicking back in comfortable musical mediocrity. That’s human nature for you – once you know and confirm to yourself that you’ve made it, you stagnate and artistically you’re toast.


Mistakenly considering her to be genuine, I followed the thread through to our wider existence and talked about how we don’t just live in a world in which appearance/packaging/marketing is the most important thing. We live in a world in which packaging is the only thing. What is inside, what the substance of the product or person is, quite simply does not matter.


The gorgeous pop face and flash outfit are what matter, the quality of the music does not. The shop façade and the excitement of buying a top are what matter, not the item itself that you’re left with afterwards. The cool story of how wasted you got on Saturday obscures the fact that you don’t remember any of it.


It was a flaw in Western civilisation I was not quite able to put my finger on until as usual the ragamuffins over at South Park spelt it out word for word, in their preachy, peachy way: “Today, commentary IS the content. It’s not about the music. It never was. An artist is a conversation piece, nothing more.”


Our economics collapsed in 2008 because we sold a lot of flashy mortgages whose content had not been thought through. Could the same thing one day happen to our culture?


We live in a world in which packaging is the only thing. What is inside, what the substance of the product or person is, quite simply does not matter.”


It’s logical to think that with such a hole at its centre, the entire structure of our culture should come crashing down like a building chewed out by termites. To an extent it does: we’re depressed and alone and so on. Our marriages don’t last because 21st Century marriage seems to be mainly a glossy show that obscures the work involved in actually maintaining a lifelong relationship.


Yet the overall structure does not collapse. Our jobs are a series of menial tasks and robotic procedures whose stress of the moment distracts us from how unfulfilling they are, and we accept this because, you know, that’s life, the kids need to eat. Hollywood has completely given up on quality, focusing on hype and star performers, and we’re ok with this.


People are more passionate about wealth creation than about the passions in their hearts. Religions divide people into Us versus Them based on 3,000 year-old desert superstition and yet our government revers them enough to give them tax-free status. And we want sex so much that it envelops our lives and completely distracts us from having nothing else on our agendas.


Even newspapers are not immune to this brave new world free of content. At an anniversary bash there were bigwigs, mates, connections and corporates, but among those celebrating the success barely anyone admitted actually ever having picked up and read the newspaper, ostensibly the reason behind the party.



Contact Marty at . In the spirit of the article, the ‘About the Author’ is not so important here.

Something to say..? Leave your comments here.

facebook like buttonStay up to date via TwitterStay up to date via TwitterStay up to date via Twitter