Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Last week I was interviewed by Jill Stark for The Sunday Age on the rise of 'demotivational' media.

In 'Inspiration overload on social media prompts rise of 'demotivational' movement', Jill examines the success of 'uninspiration' accounts, and the reasons behind it.

I spoke about the limited usefulness of quick emotional fixes, the danger of repressing 'negative' emotions, and the equal shallowness of glib can-do quotes and too-cool cynicism. A sample:
Damon Young believes both the inspiration movement and its sarcastic counterpart can be traced back to a basic human desire to be liked. 
"There's a glib vision of universal positivity and then there's an equally glib vision of universal doom. Neither is inspired by an interest in truth or justice or health – they're both inspired by popularity. Who can be the coolest cheerleader type or who can be the coolest cynic." 
And with a booming trade in demotivational merchandise, clearly there is money to be made in cynicism. 
Dee Madigan, creative director of advertising agency Campaign Edge and panellist on ABC's The Gruen Planet, said companies would follow whatever trend was popular and some were already jumping on the push to reject perfection and faux positivity. 
"Brands like Dove have tapped into that quite well where they've made it real but they still want people to aspire to stuff so their ads are still quite inspirational," she said. 
"Positivity actually doesn't sell as well. We're hard-wired to notice negativity more than positive stuff so in terms of cutting through, which is the first job of any ad, negativity works. But as soon as companies start trying to market a trend it actually makes it uncool."
(Image: Uninspirational)

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