In distinct capitalistic societies, people strive to achieve autonomy and special identity as they carry out their daily activities. Uniqueness is normally derived from innovation, ingenuity and other distinguishing characteristics that help outline individuals. Despite the proclaimed uniqueness by individuals in capitalistic states, human beings tend to congregate towards different installed cultures. Glyn Daly explores this aspect of individual conformity towards the hooked up norms of the society while still proclaiming freedom. Additionally, the exploitation of the individual compliance to team standards as examined by Daly is analyzed using the movies “”The Merchants of Cool”” and “”Generation Like.””
When discussing Marxism and capitalism through the Frankfurt school and the analogy of Jazz, Glyn Daly presents various aspects of individualism and pseudo individualism. From the essay, individualism presents spontaneity, innovation, and uniqueness. However, Glyn indicates that different cultures, like religion, have curtailed individualism giving rise to the aspect of pseudo-individualism. Pseudo-individualism presents a scenario where individuals can exercise their freedom in various elements as long as they conform to the specified ideals.
In the analogy of Jazz, Glyn points out that whereas Jazz appears to be spontaneous and innovative, it is structured into around specific motifs that determine particular rhythm which is the only choice that players have to choose different notes. This conformist nature of Jazz is equated to the capitalist market structure which promotes innovation and freedom only as far as the innovations and diversity are about the system itself (Daly 32). From the essay, pseudo-individualism, therefore, is the freedom and individualism to be the same as other individuals.
The videos “The Merchants of Cool” and “Generation Like” present the perfect scenarios where capitalists have pushed teenagers towards pseudo-individualism for maximum profits. The videos present numerous instances of pseudo-individualism. In the Merchants of Cool (9:07), the idea of individualism is shown by the introduction of the trendsetter or the early adopter. These are teenagers who are unique and pioneers in various trends and can, therefore, be deemed to represent individualism to the fullest. However, the narrator proceeds to indicate that the trendsetters are only the twenty percent while the other eighty percent is made of conformists who define their individualism through association with the trendsetters. This identification with trends and best defines pseudo individualism as presented by Daly in his essay.
The establishment of trends leads to the creation of different cultures. As Daly (32) indicates, “Culture had replaced religion as the new ‘opium of the masses’ in framing a subtle order of conformism.” From the “Merchants of Cool” video, it is clear that marketers and corporations are responsible for selling youth cultures to the teenagers and young adults. Some of the giant corporations that have been identified include News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Universal Vivendi, and AOL Time Warner (15:43). The unique items that individuals will use to define themselves include music, films, clothing, sports teams, and books. However, these identifying factors confine individuals to the “cool stuff” thus limiting innovation and ingenuity among various parties. The sale of different youth cultures lead makes individuals to identify with the culture as a definition of their individualism while paradoxically, conforming to the limits of the culture. The different youth cultures present the various aspects of pseudo-individualism.
Furthermore, the video “Generation Like” presents the progress of pseudo-individualism over several years since the production of the previous video. Although traditional and aggressive marketing by institutions such as MTV drove pseudo-individualism as evidenced in the first video, the subsequent video shows that technology, social media, in particular, has greatly shaped the advance of pseudo-individualism. Now all that matters are the number of likes. As a result, most people will tend to imitate the ideals and standards set by the people who get high number of likes. In the video (06:02), one participant in the focus group indicates that members of social media networks cannot wait to find out whether other people like the various aspects of the individual as presented in social media platforms. The situation illustrated shows that individuality is not defined by one’s perception of their uniqueness but depends on the views of the crowd. If one does not receive as many likes as they had hoped for, most of them adjust the different aspects. As a result, teenagers and the young generation’s individuality is defined by the views of members of the social media networks. As a result, their individualism is limited to the boundaries of views and likes on social networks. Most people tend to like popular brands which project and broadcasts to the online community as their brand. As a result, most people’s traits are confined to the popular club thus indicating pseudo-individualism.
As the narrator interviews Ceili Lynch in the video, the notion of pseudo-individualism is evident. Lynch indicates that she likes the fantasy franchise Hunger Games and her identity is defined by her level of fandom towards the franchise. As a result, she is a top re-tweeter in all aspects related to the series, and the reply she receives from the characters in the franchise leads to her gaining more likes from her peers. Evidently, Lynch epitomizes individualism in her love of the Hunger Games, but her fanatic thirst for recognition by characters and her influence on her peers results in the situation of pseudo-individualism. Lynch’s friends like her because of her love of Hunger Games and she has received recognition for it. The individuality of the friends is, therefore, limited to the aspects of the Hunger Games.
In conclusion, it is clear that pseudo-individualism has blurred the definition of individualism. The use of different forms of technology is critical in establishing various pseudo-technology. Consequently, the progress in technology will in the future lead to further development of pseudo-individualism in the society.
“The Merchants of Cool”: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/
“Generation Like”: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/generation-like/
Daly, Glyn. “Marxism.” The Routledge Companion to Critical Theory, 2006, pp.28-40.