Bill Hicks used to joke, in his stand-up comedy act, that persons who worked in marketing (and/or advertising, if I recall) should kill themselves. His next line was even funnier: one of these fictional marketers, seemingly unaffected by this venomous suggestion, reacting with approval, “Say, Bill’s really tapping into that ‘anti-marketing’ demographic.” He was not aiming his humorous ire at real persons in a nightclub’s audience, but rather, at Wall Street culture’s nonstop blaring on every broadcast channel, its gaudy visuals on almost every printed page.
Hicks was what I like to call a comic pugilist; he brooked no disrespect for his point of view, abrasive and provocative though it was. He suffered censorship problems, got edited (or just plain dropped) from a few television shows, had to find his success in England after many Stateside career frustrations. He kept slugging away at his favorite topics – religion, drug use, hypocrisy, war – until his tragic, premature death from cancer, in 1994, when he was just thirty-two.
I wonder what he would make of today’s media-saturated world, in which we swim in e-mail and Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Two decades after his time in the spotlight, it seems, everyone is in marketing (and/or advertising), and everyone has a “Brand of one“, and we bloggers are no exception to this. Just yesterday, for example, when I learned that actor Russell Crowe might be developing a Bill Hicks bio-film, I thought, “Say, that’s going to be excellent for his brand,” because hey, it’s 2013, and we think (and say, and write) things like that now.