They were the dreams of hard-working magazine and movie people to push what they keep telling us is important, and conventional wisdom would tell us is popular with the American people, yet when it comes to actual practice, the people aren't all that interested.
These are topics that the left hold in deep reverence: the evil of President Bush, the wrongness of the Iraq war, the need to save the planet. If you watch the news or see any media, you get the impression that everyone thinks so. Tigger tells kids how to recycle, Dora the Explorer turns into a mermaid and the seas are filled with trash, it's everywhere (particularly with kids). Yet when it comes to people making a choice about what they are interested in, rather than being inundated at all times with the topic, they turn out to be not nearly as interested as conventional wisdom would indicate.
The New York Times had an article on advertising in which they blamed an 18 month oversaturation of "green"topics, that the public just has gotten sick of it. The problem is, these magazine articles span that 18 month period and all
of them undersold (almost every one by a huge margin). It wasn't a question of people becoming tired of the topic, it was a question of people just not wanting to be preached to about it.
As Eric Pfanner notes in the NYT
At an annual gathering of the advertising industry a year ago in Cannes, the environment was the topic du jour. “Be seen, be green,” one agency urged on the invitation to its party at a hillside villa.
Al Gore, invited by another agency, delivered a message linked to “An Inconvenient Truth,” his book and film about climate change: That the ad industry could play an influential role in encouraging businesses and consumers to change their ways and slow global warming.
The push was to "green" advertising and ideas, that was the new, hot trend! Except... it isn't. Sure, it's hot from the perspective of the media, they're pushing it with both hands and feet. Al Gore wants this because it helps his various businesses that specialize in the carbon credit business. But the public is just not biting.
One of the reasons is that while people do care for their environment and want to stop pollution, they don't care to be lectured at, to be "preached" at (in the pejorative sense, not the real sense of preaching). It's one thing to call for cleaner living, it's another to bombard people with constant nagging and condemnations.
Another reason is that people don't buy into the hype. Deep down they're skeptical about advertising, they don't believe the world is really being destroyed. Most people will mention global warming, but according to every poll taken worldwide, only a minority are actually concerned about it. Sure, you probably know a couple people who are hysterical about it, but most shrug and go on with their lives.
A third reason the greening phenomenon isn't really a phomenon at all (in a cultural sense) is that they see Al Gore flying around the world and living in a gargantuan, fuel burning home. They see the same people who claim everyone else
must give up everything to save the planet being grossly and conspicuously wasteful. That's not attractive in any sense. Hypocrisy is the best way to destroy a message, even if the message is valid: if you don't care to live up to the standards you demand, why should I?
And it is true that to a certain degree people are stubborn and get sick of being rained with a message. Even if they are sympathetic to the message to begin with, after a while you just get sick of it and will not put up with it any longer. The NYT 18-month theory may be unsupported by the magazine sales, but it is true that the more you nag at someone, the more likely they are to not do it just to spite you.
A last reason is that people are already
doing the things that are being brought up. Why buy a magazine to tell you what you already know and are probably doing? Recycling and saving energy was already on peoples' minds, most people are already taking the steps suggested in these articles.
I've already written about this significantly in the past, but in brief, Americans like soldiers, don't like being told they are doing awful things, and weren't all that opposed to the Iraq war to begin with. Sure, polling showed for a few years that people were opposed to it, but not to any great degree. They'd say "yeah, it probably was a mistake" or "eh, sure, we shouldn't have gone in" but they wouldn't insist we left and it wasn't a big election issue despite the insistence of the left. We know this because strong pro-war candidates won reelection and many of the new Democratic Party congressmen were Iraq war vets and did not run on an anti-war platform.
The truth is, America isn't as leftist as the press wants it to be or portrays it as. The big causes with the radical left that dominates media just aren't that important to the general public. These people are ideologically out of touch with the general population of the country. It's not that the USA is incredibly conservative, most aren't. It's just that most people aren't incredibly leftist either
and certainly very few are as left leaning as the movie producers and magazine staff that put this stuff out.
These magazines didn't do so well because they were pet projects of people who didn't really understand their customer base, or were so caught up in zealotry they didn't care. These topics didn't sell well any more than a special edition on buying funny dice or playing Runequest would. Sure, there are some very dedicated Role Playing fans who'd love it, but they are in the great minority.
In the end, as we watch the Los Angeles and New York Times stagger around like a dying rat largely because of their contempt for readers and burning need to push a leftist agenda, it's satisfying in one sense (like seeing the villain of the piece face justice in a movie). Yet it's sad in another because these operations were once much greater, they represent the hopes and dreams of a lot of people and if they fall, they cannot be replaced (particularly the New York Times). Yet my pity has to be tempered by the fact that they are doing this with their eyes wide open and a finger defiantly raised in the face of their very customers.
When you cut your own throat, there's only so much sympathy that you can generate.
For a humorous take on this, check out The Onion's spoof
on Time's issue.
*Hat tip to Moonbattery
for the magazine article.