Sunday, 11 November 2007

Why buy Snake Oil?

One of life’s puzzles is why people pay good money for rubbish. Shoddy merchandise – useless ‘remedies’ – crap art – brainless talk – the purveyors of all this ghastly stuff rake their profits in and run laughing all the way to the bank. Why?


Cannot people discern between products and ideas of value and those which are scams? It seems not – or else my junk mail box would not be flooded with messages urging me to buy bogus Viagra or to invest in the latest stock market hot tip ‘guaranteed’ [of course] to be a winner. Happily I have enough sense not to send these hopeful guys and gals my credit card details, but hundreds obviously do or it would not be worth their while to write and email their pitches.


I see the Chinese [some of them, anyway] are kicking themselves for their stupidity in paying Tony Blair $500,000 for a three-hour visit to a luxury housing complex and a vapid speech witheringly described by China Youth Daily as “full of pleasantries and clichés” and no more insightful than the reports of local officials. Having been subjected to Blair’s blatherings for a couple of decades, we British can only sympathise with the Chinese for their yawn-provoking
experience.


But Blair, egregious though he be, is small beer as an earner compared to the top US televangelists – the Swaggarts, Haggards, Robertsons, Bakkers, and Oral Robertses – who coin in the dollars with their unashamed invocations of the Golden Calf and their proclamations that Jesus is the God of Success [theirs, first and foremost]. Why Americans are so prone to lap up this pitiful appeal to credulousness and greed remains a mystery. But far too many of them do.


Free competition, in ideas as well as goods, is all very well but there does need to be some quality control. Unfortunately Western society is suffering from slippage in this respect, which makes it all the more necessary and important for those of us who don’t want to be patsies and suckers to speak out against the encroaching tide of material, mental, and intellectual garbage.

11 comments:

Emmett said...

I Wonder if "snake oil" hasn't really been the norm all along? Hitler was a whole pisshouse full of it, and nobody here EVER failed to make a million by underestimating the the "intelligence" of the American people. There IS something that old Mencken described as "the American libido for the ugly." But I guess that the HUMAN knack for stupidity is a lot bigger barrel to put all of that into! So-called education? Well yes, Hell yes, these dumb postmodern bastards running around now are just as a happy about that old shit as their daddies was about Science and Zyklon B, and their grandpappies was about that Oldtime Religion and the Thirty Years War....

Richard W. Symonds said...

We have simply "lost the (moral) plot", AC - Joad used a different phrase...he appealed to fellow philosophers not "to drop the object" ('Decadence' Book).

They ignored him, as we do now.

anticant said...

YOU don't, Richard! I simply don't take him at his face value - he was the Tony Blair of philosophy.

Emmett said...

THE 'Moral theme' /is/ a conundrum, certainly in historiography; but, truth be told, only history written in that light amounts to literature, ever. Otherwise, it's just a matter of compiling lists....

[/CONUNDRA/ Would be an Hell of a name for a postmodern daughter, b'Gad; and, 'twould serve the fraud Cheney aright, too, in his dratted cowboy boots peeking shyly out from trouser-cuffs; and, a cuff -- or a dozen! -- with the ratwhisk, on the bare arse of that old Wyoming pacemaker-case. On the quarterdeck. In downtown Iraq. At high noon!

anticant said...

Gary Cooper was much better looking than Mephisto Cheney. I had a crush on him when I was little.

Emmett said...

GARY Cooper is said to have been, well, a bit organic as they say, amid the heifers at any rate. Otherwise, as to snake oil in the 1980s, when I was pawning myself off on some married ladies in these parts as a "spiritual counselor" and "neo-shaman" (for real money, too!), well, it did get oily a bit from time-to-time up there in the old "sweatlodge," but guess what, Aunty? You can't take them as don't want to be TOOK (or /got/, as the case may be)!

tyger said...

Anticant,

It's the sheer number of emails they send that ensures some profit. As PT Barnum apparently said...


This is why charging people for more that, say, 100 emails per day, may make some sense. They send, literally, millions. They use software to crawl the internet garnering email addresses.

Yankee Doodle said...

Hey, Snake Oil is good -- and good for you. I can getcha a deal on some, too.

anticant said...

Well, YD, it IS a big feature of the American Way of Life!

Yankee Doodle said...

And the whole world is dying to get some!

anticant said...

Don't you be so sure - many of us would prefer you to keep it at home.