The notion of Supply and Demand has been on my mind recently, and the question of how that concept shapes our world was brought to the fore during the Super Bowl. Whether or not the nip slip was intentional is kind of beside the point--the fact is that not only was it highly enjoyed by a large section of the viewing audience, but coverage of that story has dominated 'entertainment news' and even grabbed the front page of the USA Today. Whether people agree or disagree about the indecency of Janet Jackson's boob, they all seem to want to know more about it.
Unfortunately, that's the way the news (and everything else) works here. Advertisers, (and let's face it, all network and cable tv stations are advertising platforms more than they are content providers,) will always feed a demand, and in many cases create one where none exists, so the question of who to blame when things are so terribly out of balance is a hard one to answer. Do you blame Viacom and all their advertisers for pimping Janet's chest for ratings and aftermath publicity? Do you blame the millions of people who searched Google for "Janet Jackson Breast Super Bowl"? Do you blame the FCC for having taboos like bare breasts that make them seem that much more titilating, (after all, bare breasts aren't given a second thought in many other places)? I don't think there's an easy answer. It seems stupid to regulate what people can say and freely watch, but it seems equally stupid that we live in a nation of tit-hungry dorks who are so obsessed with sex and celebrities that this is even an issue?
The answer is an ugly one, but I think it makes a lot of sense. If you let the culture be ruled by economics, where supply and demand are the golden principles on which lives and liveliehoods are made, then you have to be ready for that system to work in other ways. People want to see boobs. Why? Because there is a limited supply due to the social mores about showing boobs. Someone shows a boob, there's a little supply, and then a ton of more demand for screenshots, avi's, wallpapers, fakes with both boobs exposed and with Justin Timberlake holding a giant black dildo... you get the picture. If you own a commodity, the best thing you can do to create demand is to demonstrate that the commodity is scarce. The whole idea of holding back diamonds, milk, corn, or comic books is that you can charge more for them, and it's all tied up in this very Capitalist idea that a person should be able to make the most possible money he or she can from what he or she owns. When you think about it, it's really contrary to the notions of goodwill and community that we like to think our society is founded on. You see this played out with the cost of bottled water whenever there's a natural disaster or outdoor concert.
Now, you're seeing supply and demand work its magic on popular culture. People flock to Survivor, so why not give them Big Brother, The Bachelor, and MORE SURVIVOR? People loved Legally Blonde so of course it only makes sense to produce Legally Blonde 2! Well, people like sex, boobs, and lowest common denominator entertainment, so brace yourselves because it's getting worse before it gets better. The solution is to voluntarily turn away from those economics that line our pockets and give us 75 channels of cable tv, and to turn towards a way of thinking that's more beneficial to the people the society is built on. So often, we find ourselves in a world made for our cars, our banks, our jobs, and our houses, but in a world that is not really made for US! What if Coke DIDN'T break last year's earnings figures? What if Home Depot DIDN'T open 12 more stores in Kansas? What if Starbucks DIDN'T have competing coffee shops on the same block to drive up the price of coffee? In the words of Public Enemy:
"You can't give the people what the want,
You gotta give the people what they need!"