In a recent commercial broadcasting on Italian television the speaker asks the audience if they’d like some cocoa spread. Or an adherable yellow paper rectangle. Or maybe a plastic brick to build something.
The clever hints to Nutella, Post-it and Lego brands work well with the publicized product (which I unfortunately forgot, lol). However, this made me think about how much brands influence our language, and therefore our way of thinking. Sometimes with very dangerous, or at least worrying, results.
Take Dark Souls as an example: since it became ultra popular as a game, and then as a genre (the souls-like), its brand has been used to define and describe all the kinds of stuff. There’s a quite funny Twitter profile that aggregates every questionable mention to From Software’s title. To give you some examples:
Now, you can start to see my point here. Dark Souls nowadays has become a synonymous to “difficult game”, and many people on the internet begun to use it in a re-definition of highly punishing titles that already existed, or that share some common features in terms of gameplay, structure, aesthetics. As if difficult stuff didn’t exist prior to Dark Souls and languages didn’t offer any coherent way to express the concept of hard-to-beat game before. There’s an implicit subtext of laziness around this phenomenon, that finds its peak in the more recent exploit of the TV Series Black Mirror.
(git gud, Netflix)
Since our world seems the prelude to a very big dystopian fiction, many creepy facts that involve a wrong use of technologies are happening all around the globe. So, how do you think that journalists, opinion leaders, and newsers are defining those? With the sentence “It’s like a Black Mirror episode” (or any other declination of it), OF COURSE. Because, you know, dystopia as a genre never existed before. Orwell, Bradbury, Ballard, Dick, and co. are just pre-copycats of Black Mirror, apparently.
This association of a brand to an already existing product, or fact, tends de-construct said product/fact. The brand becomes a category, it becomes the product itself. Hence, influencing our way of thinking. Opening Twitter (and Facebook) these days feels like Dark Souls was the precursor to challenging games (say hi to NES’ Ninja Gaiden or Prince of Persia), while the Black Mirror brand created a genre on its own – de facto erasing from people’s memory a whole literature of dystopian classics.
Which, paradoxically enough, sounds too much like a damn Black Mirror episode.