when is a “review” not a review?

When it’s this:

Well, OK, fair enough: a concrete example might be more use.

So: When it’s this sort of situation:

Here’s the problem:

A “review” ≠ a description, summary, synopsis, or account.

Marketing, advertising, sales, and other BS/propaganda have always been clever. They’ve been around back to the dawn of human civilization (see: accountancy information on Babylonian tablets). They’re smart, and get smarter and more creative in their new directions of smartness, all the time–social networking, spam, public installations, performance art, agit-prop, guerilla marketing, targeted ads, and this sort of thing. It’s not a conspiracy, and I’m not paranoid. They are out to get me (and you, and us all). That’s their purpose. But that’s OK. The role that marketing and co. play within consumerism–and indeed the consumer society its very self–these things are neither good nor bad.

It’s like lions.

They’re predators, and they play an important role in the ecological balance through killing off weaker prey-herd-members and preventing over-population and over-grazing. Once they themselves die, they nourish a host of microbial and invertebrate life, before rotting and providing further raw material for the continuing cycle of nature.

It’s not (entirely, always, and ideally at all) just a matter of kill-or-be-killed. Within the survival of the fittest, there’s also that marvellous device: adaptation. The ecosystem that is a civilized human society has developed counter-balances: criticism, commentary, critique; and communities who nurture and protect. Including protection from BS, propaganda, cults out to convert, lions out on the hunt.

Changing analogy: rather than lions and wildebeest, picture wolves and buffalo.

Successful marketing, strong branding: tin design +/- same since 1885, Britain's oldest brand. As rubber-stamped by (another marketing success-story) the Guinness Book of Records.

And here’s what the authorities have to say. For, yes, there are such things as authorities. It’s not all relative. Some sources are better–more sound and reliable–than others (not, note, “credible”: it’s not about belief):

The first and oldest (1847) chocolate bar in the world, from one of the oldest chocolate companies (Fry, f. 1728). At the Cadbury (f. 1824) Somerdale factory museum.

Footnote to image: that’s from a BBC local news item in 2010. I don’t know where the chocolate bar is now: if you do know, please do tell me!

Cadbury & merged with JS Fry & Sons in 1919. Cadbury was taken over by Kraft Foods in 2010 (somewhat controversially). That historic Fry-Cadbury Somerdale factory has now closed (2011-03-31), as once again the pseudo-science of economics and the pseudo-thought of business kill off a community, a slice of British social history, and–last but not least–affects the Quaker legacy: social justice, community, equality, independent conscientious dissent, pacifism, and model ethical living. The Quakers and what they stand for must, admittedly, always have been a bit of a thorn in the side for politicians and economists everywhere, and especially for the last few decades’ UK governments. Less a thorn than a sticky burr, size-wise; but a ruddy great tree in terms of economic importance over the last two centuries.But that’s just history… and history and heritage aren’t exactly national strong points or indeed very popular in most of British contemporary culture existence. Ah well. At least the long tradition of enlightened critical review is very much alive and kicking: they still have the finest stand-up comedy and the most brilliant political satire in the world–and that’s just the Parliament. Let’s not get started on BBC Radio 4 …

My grumps aside: this is the fun side of this blog–the public service of BS-detection, or separation of the wheat from the chaff, sheep from the goats, fact from fiction, solid content from rhetoric and other fluff. Mind you, the fluff can be very pretty and sparkly, and is a pleasure and a delight in its own right.

My favourite result from a Google image-search for "fluffy sparkly pretty chocolate."

Image at top: Flickr

One comment

  1. Alan Freke

    Hi, The Old bar of Fry’s chocolate shown above, was given by Cadbury’s to Frenchay Village Museum, and is now on permanent display there.
    Frenchay is on the edge of Bristol, and the museum is open Sat, Sun, and Wed afternoons and admission is free. the Postcode is BS16 1SZ, The website http://www.frenchaymuseumarchives.co.uk has a mass of unique information about Frys.

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