Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Art of Selling Out


So selling out is not exactly a new development, celebrities have been whoring out their faces and names for years advertising products they don't use for money they don't need so they can keep playing that game called fame. But when does it become too much?

Advertising companies are good at their jobs and we can't blame them for this. They utilize the Appeal to Authority to the fullest and benefit greatly. It was discovered long ago that if products were presented by figures the public could relate to, respect, and even trust, products would sell. Unfortunately these days having products sold by professionals like doctors (real docs, not those 'I'm a doctor and I approve this diet pill' docs), scientists, and experts don't appeal to the public as much as your favorite celebs. We trust Jamie Lee Curtis to sell us poop yogurt more than we trust a proctologist! Which speaks volumes for the value system of our society, but that's another blog.

Lately, I have grown tired of seeing the greed of Hollywood embodied in the picturesque stars flooding my magazines and television commercials. These celebrities get paid millions of dollars to pimp these products and their faces out all over the advert world. Do they need the money? Hell no! Only popular celebrities sell, and popular celebs are making plenty of money in their own industry! Note Forbes' top ten paid actresses of 2009: of the 10, only 2, count them, TWO have not sold their faces to any product nor their souls to any company. Oddly, of the top ten actors, only two have. I don't know if this represents a gender difference in terms of values (men don't sell out)*yeah right*, or just appeal (women sell better) *Mmhmm*. The point being, these people are not on the brink of financial ruin selling their names to feed their children. And none of them are pimping for altruism or any worthy cause other than their genuine concern for your yellow teeth and grotesque pasty make-up-less mug.

And selling out isn't happening just in Hollywood. Imagine my devastation as a Sugarland fan when an Applebee's commercial came on and their music was narrating the flurry of artery-clogging, just-a-step-above-McDonald's quality burgers. But don't worry, they're still smiling bright and white with Listerine White Strips. My final breaking point came when I stumbled upon the biggest travesty of musical sell-out, Mariah Carey. Once a diehard fan of the siren who once claimed "it was all only about the music", my heart has slowly been torn into confetti in the years since her much publicized breakdown and comeback, which, in the hands of musical connoisseur LA Reid, has been littered with Pepsi and Intel Processor ads. Now LA's latest brain child? A magazine-style CD booklet for her new album that will come with editorials and photos of the singer, and of course, advertisements. LA contacted big perfume, make-up, and clothing companies to advertise in Mariah's "CD-Mag", and they will be making cash hand over fist on this latest scheme that some predict will spread like a wildfire in the money-hungry music industry.

In stepping back and examining the larger picture, those of us without money can easily see the temptation of getting paid millions to put on some Covergirl lipstick and smile. But what about contractual obligations and the restrictions that apply? A few years ago, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron were reminded of the shackles fastened to their wrists by their companies. Theron, who had signed on to advertise one brand of watch was photographed wearing a competitor's brand and was sued by the company she advertised for $100 million for breaking contract. Kidman nearly became the subject of a heated lawsuit with Chanel when a tabloid falsely reported she was seen buying a competitor's perfume at a store. My question: is it worth it? When you're making $20+ million a film, is that extra couple of million worth it when you can't enter a store and pick up any bottle of perfume you want without being sued? Is it worth it when you have to sift through your jewelry box and set aside the accessories you can't wear because you want to avoid a lawsuit? These celebrities have effectively sold their souls and very basic freedoms to these companies for a little more cash and face time on TV and paper.

What happened to the art? What happened to doing what you're doing because you love it and not worrying about the fame game or the money? What happened to integrity and working for personal fulfillment? Would Da Vinci have given Mona Lisa fuller lips and a bigger smile if she could have advertised long-lasting color stay lipstick? Would Shakespeare have allowed the Goodyear blimp to fly around The Globe during his productions? Imagine Mozart presented by Nokia.

I mentioned earlier, two of the top ten actresses have never sold out to any company. You may have wondered who they are? The fantastically delectable Meryl Streep, always a slave to her art and nothing more, and my love of loves, the fabulous Renee Zellweger. Now Renee has actually advertised for companies twice, once for Ford cars, and once for a combination of Mercedes Benz, Saks 5th Avenue, and Juicy Couture. However, both were in fact, pimping for altruism as both ads were in connection with Breast Cancer Research and Awareness, and as far as I know, Renee accepted no money for these campaigns. If you gotta pimp, pimp for good, not for you.

I love Renee