Re: Serious Joke,Seriously "Help!"

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 09:37:01 +0900

>--- Performance would surely be done in expectation of audience reaction.
>What we may miss in my/our comparison is feedback from the larger audience
>(the community for the traditional folk performer, the consumer for the
>marketeer, although consumer buying is a sort of distended commentary
>onperformance!) which tends to adjust folk performances back within the
>accepted range (constant commentary by audience is a feature of *some* folk

How a particular performance fits into a larger context is always an
interesting issue. My own particular hobby horses direct attention to the
middle ground, which I find missing in many anthropological and
cultural-critical accounts. Suppose, for example, that someone is making a
presentation in Japan. The client's reaction may be "Japanese." It may also
be "Canon," say, or "Mr. Nozaki." In terms of getting the business,
directing attention to the "Japanese" level of the nested contexts can be
counterproductive--especially if it's Mr. Nozaki whose seal goes on the
purchase orders.

If the client is the audience of the marketeer, then surely
>the client's feedback adjusts the marketeer's 'performance.' This adjust
>would be in iterative 'performances' though, rather than in-process as
>would usually be the case for more traditional folk performances. (?)

And then there is the client who says, "Cut the marketing crap and show me
the creative." :-)

>>... Innovation is celebrated and
>>the audience reaction will be negative if it isn't offered something new.
>--- True, the marketeer's events cannot be assumed to be a one-to-one
>correspondence with other folk performances. But underneath the constant
>innovation (at least in Western marketing -- what goes on elsewhither?)
>there still may be structures identifiable as folk performance? That is,
>we still have some kind of codes that adjust performance -- for example,
>sexuality is exploited in Western marketing styles, but there is a limit,
>or limits within the various marketing 'genres' (surely there are such!).
>Other kinds of MC (marketing correctness) may exist as a form of
>traditional rules or paradigm that constains performance underneath all the
>apparent innovation. In fact, the call for constant innovation may itself
>be a form of traditional 'rule' in Western marketing (or am I sterilizing
>my hypothesis against being falsified???).

Ah, yes, how to deal with a world in which change is the only constant. The
serious issue here is the one raised by Guy Cook in _The Discourse of
Advertising_ and Grant McCracken in _Culture & Consumption_. The incessant
pursuit of novelty at the heart of capitalist market economies destabilizes
genres. You've just started to learn the rules when somebody up and changes
them. It is this, I would argue, that makes Alice at the Mad Hatter's tea
party such an attractive image for our current state of affairs.

>Besides Dell Hymes, I think Bahktin on "speech genres" could be brought
>into this (I admire both fellows).
>The usual caveats apply: I'm not the expert, but it's fun imagining how it
>may be (rampant hypothesizing without going on to test is very much like
>dark chocolate -- the consequences are lost in the endorphins!)

Ain't it the truth.:-)

-- wade

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo