Not only that, but Advertising single-handedly destroyed the proletariat
. No lie.
Observe: it is the turn of the century. Big business, mass production are just coming into their own. Big names are rising out of that post-industrial revolution capitalist circus of the late 19th century, and people like Henry Ford are really showing what mass production is capable of. Goods are being produced on a scale heretofore unheard of. Except for one slight problem.
Who to sell it to? The public sure as hell didn't want that crap; it was very much into Puritan-inspired, Victorian thriftiness. Buying crap was bad; save your money for a rainy day! Ensure your kids have something to eat! Now, sure, this way of thinking was all well and good, but it didn't exactly put dinner on the table of those guys whose shit wasn't being bought, dig? So, what to do? How to cleanse America of that scourge of thrift that hung over it?
Advertising, of course. What is advertising? Is it a method of displaying one's wares to a large group of people and getting your product into the consciousness of millions of valued customers? Well, sure. But it's a bit more, Virginia. Not only is there a Santa Claus, but he's one clever bastard. Not only does Santa want you to have all the best and newest shit, but he wants you to want to have it. You gotta be a consumer! Advertising was, and is, primarily a method of implanting in viewers the sense that they are currently lacking in some way, and the only way to fill themselves up is through purchase. Lots of purchase. Purchase unending, fueled by credit cards and loans and Twiggy, in your house through your box 24 hours a day.
Ok, you say, so what? Advertising causes people to want shit. No fucking duh, right? Sad as it may be, most people know they are consumers, and they know that big business wants to them to be consumers, because they like their new TV, thank you very much.
But Wait, There's More! You remember that part about the proletariat, way up at the top of this rant? Here's the kicker, the real twist which turns Micro$oft into Evil Empire for real. Flip back, we're still at the turn of the century. Now, those big tycoons are all a bit perturbed, you see... These waddya call em, unions, they weren't exactly good for business. The proletariat (he still existed, you see) was gaining power and influence, and that was definitely a bad thing. But, hey now, wait a sec... Take another look at this advertising shindig. It makes people want shit, right? Well, who, exactly, are those people? Those people are their workers. Those people are the working class. Now there's something! So here we go, check it: You make these people want shit, give em money and leisure, and you've got a bona fide consumer on your hands! Big Business, in "acceding" to the workers' demands for better wages and shorter hours, was in fact just outfitting them to be obedient little consumers! And the workers were no longer agitating for control of the means of production, the true goal and danger to the corporations. Now they were fighting for their "right," the same right (or claim thereof) which had been implanted in them by Uncle Henry, to purchase! The right to purchasing power! The right to shop.
And the corporations were happy to give it to them, to. Sure, give them money... Because now, instead of keeping it and using it to advance in social status, those workers, those consumers were just funneling it right back to The Machine.