Everybody needs to get a corporate sponsor for self-worth

By Tyler Vincent

Most of us were curled up on our sofas Saturday evening to watch as the Bronx-diva-with-the-No. 1-movie-and-No. 1-album Jennifer Lopez hosted Saturday Night Live.

Most of us sat through the opening sequence where Will Ferrill and Lorne Michaels gawked at her infamous buttocks. We winced in pain at the “don’t get me started” stand up comic in the hospital.

We also were treated to a rendition of her latest hit single “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” with lyrics containing the names of two well-known automobile products, “When you rolled up in the (Cadillac) Escalade,” and “Think I want to drive your Benz? I don’t.”

The endorsements don’t stop there. Consider Cristal Champaigne’s magnified presence in Jay-Z and R. Kelly lyrics. Or the transition “from ‘Phat Farm’ (clothing line) to ‘Iceburg Slim’ (author Robert Beck of the 1969 novel PIMP fame).”

And Mercedes Benz? Janis and J-Lo aren’t the only ones to lend their names to this famous line. Mya (“Did she hear about the brand new Benz that you just bought for me?” from “Case of the Ex”), Pimp C & “If I wasn’t rappin’ baby, I would still be ridin’ Mercedes,” from “Big Pimpin”), and, lest we forget, the rapper Mercedes.

These trends are not exclusive to the hip-hop community. They are present in a different form in the rock world, where artists give their songs to corporations to use in advertisements.

Some of the recent contributors include Sting, who gave his 2000 hit “Desert Rose” to Jaguar; Iggy Pop, who loaned his 1977 “Lust for Life” to Carnival Cruise lines and the presence of David Bowie’s “Changes” on Novell computer commercials involving fish bowls.

Let there be no mistake, our culture is driven by the brand name, and the power buy. Our country, in its capitalistic state, cannot thrive without such conditions between the seller and the buyer.

In the beginning, Adam Smith introduced the concept of supply and demand, and up until the advent of radio and television, the purpose of the seller was to respond to the needs of society. But advancements in communication turned the adage of “finding the need and filling it” on its ear. Now advertisers use their pool of talent not to fill the pressing needs of society, but to make the society want the product, or create the need and fill it.

We should not be surprised by this phenomenon. After all companies have been paying gobs of money to the movie industry for years to have their products placed in films, the most recent example of this being Fed-Ex’s essential role in Tom Hank’s “Castaway.”

Plus, the economy has been good, we’ve had more money and, as any normal human beings, we want to spend it on the finest products, and those that aren’t lapping up these products are considered out of the loop. In modern society, our measurement as human beings is directly proportional to what we own, how we dress, what we drive and so on.

So let us hop on this train of pure naked greed and product endorsements. Let us drink whatever is popular, drive whatever is cool, and wear whatever Lil’ Kim is, or isn’t, wearing. Let’s lose our souls for the want of Bentley’s. And after we are done, we will watch Total Request Live and receive updates on what is cool.

We will nod as Fred Durst tells us how much life sucks. We will gawk at Britney, Christina, with the men wanting to court them, and the women bending over toilet seats to get their stomach that thin, so they can fit into the same name brand clothes.

Let us pour Cris all over the bodices of shapely women. Let us be all about money.

We’re going to have a great, shallow, self-absorbed time.

Oh yes, yes, yes.