Here in the West we may have lost faith in ourselves, but an unlikely gang of superheroes may just have come to our rescue.
Not long ago, our once steadfast ship charted a clarion course, sails puffed taut with pride and principle. We rode the waves knowing who we were and where we were going. We had turned our backs on religious dogma and we ruled the world as the vanguard of free speech, free markets and freedom of movement. After the war we had a party to celebrate: a rock n roll rollercoaster of a bash that made gods of lowly Liverpudlians and a teenager from Tupelo. It was the democratisation of fame and fortune, and what a party it was! There was singing, dancing, drink and drugs but somehow through the fog of inebriation we managed to play golf on the moon, invent the internet and put the sum of all human knowledge on a little black slab of glass in everyone’s pocket.
But sadly, every silver lining has a cloud lurking inside. The great dump of absolutely everything onto absolutely everyone ignited a fire of self doubt that’s been raging for over a decade. The party is clearly over and I’m afraid the music you’re listening to is nothing but the drumbeat reminder of the good times we once had. Ask the East what they think of us. They admire our history and tradition but raise their eyebrows over our concocted narcissistic outrage. We bicker over gender, race and religion and squirm over made up pronouns. Instead of facing the future we attempt to dismantle the past: the very history that got us here. Self doubt has grown into self loathing which in turn has morphed into the kind of cultural masochism that saw us wishing Covid 19 was The Plague. We thought we deserved it.
This then is today’s West, the force that faces our latest foe: outraged, entitled, terrified and led by a soon to be octogenarian that cannot enunciate his own name. Surely the battle is already lost.
But hang on a minute. Who are these superheroes in tight fitting primary colours I see in the skies above? Why of course, it’s Coca Cola, McDonalds, Apple and Starbucks, I could spot them a mile off! They may be greedy, capitalist, exploitative virtue-signallers but at least they’re our greedy, capitalist, exploitative virtue-signallers! They may be flying in the wrong direction but they are our superheroes and I just knew they’d come to our rescue. I’d lost faith in our brand behemoths but here they all are: Amazon hand in hand with Adidas, Aston Martin, Levi’s and Burberry, and good old Pizza Hut arm in arm with Chanel, Disney and Dior. What an historic spectacle! Hurrah for the West!
While we dither in our vacuum of self doubt, these perfectly packaged superstars know it’s time to stand up for Western values and rehang the rusty old iron curtain. As we fumble to find a principle we can agree on, our iconic giants have stepped in to speak up for us. And while we torment ourselves with modern day perplexities such as ‘what is nationhood?’ and ‘what is a woman?’ Ukranian women, unburdened by such decadent debate, prepare to defend their own nation with force. The contrast is sickeningly stark.
Right now it seems brands can say more about our values than we can. But the yearning for the comforting embrace of a mature, motherly, reliable consumer brand runs deep in our DNA, whether it’s a Dior trouser suit or a Big Mac with fries. Russia will never be short of burgers or trouser suits of course, and Kvass is a perfectly acceptable fizzy brown alternative to CocaCola. But the missing ingredient is the tasty bit: the magical zest of the West: the glorious tang of mass produced, unhealthy, delicious, free market capitalism that permeates all our branded icons. That’s what they queued around the block for in 1990 and again in March this year before McDonalds shut up shop. Our appetites may have faded but theirs clearly haven’t.
Yes, consumerism has mollycoddled us into vacuous brand narcissists lacking any sense of purpose or direction. But love them or loathe them, they are our superheroes and they built the Twenty First Century. This superbrand exodus is nothing less than the Twenty First Century turning its back on Russia. That’s some WMD.
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