I think we all know the joke of the guy who prays to God every single night, asking that God let him win the lottery, becoming each night more fervent, eventually crying and screaming at his crucifix with the strength of his plea. After a while God deigns to appear to this man and exclaims: "Wanna win the lottery? Start by buying a ticket!" Does this cute little joke have any ethical implications or does it just want to be funny? You tell me.
EuroMillions is an international business venture between the National lottery organizations of several members of the European Union, which aims to become a European lottery system. The reasons are obvious: on a bigger scale, you can offer bigger rewards to more people, thereby attracting more people and thus, most importantly, raking in more dough. But it is also a significant political gesture. We are far from the days when Casanova pitched the idea of a national lottery to Louis XV of France to help the realm's finances, which were depleted by constant war against the other European kingdoms. We are now in the era of European integration, and EuroMillions is a tiny, but real part of this grandiose effort by the nations of the most war-torn continent to put their gory past behind and look together to the future.
I came to know of this venture because it cast itself in the role of the God of the joke, informing the European populace that they should buy EuroMillions tickets, making Its voice heard through privatized propaganda—I mean, advertising. My old geezer side comes out most easily when I am looking through that strange window people orient their furniture toward. I am quite often thrown into fits of anger, which has acquaintances speculating that I will die as an old man, struck by a heart attack in the middle of a cane-waving rant. It's not so much the abysmal stupidity consistently displayed by the box which angers me, it is the distortion, worsened by premeditation, of reality which is consciously orchestrated by the people responsible for most of what happens inside that universe. A perfect example of such distortion is advertising.
The ads that some genius in the bowels of some advertising company came up with for EuroMillions revolved around a made-up "Collective of Rich People Against EuroMillions." You see, the members of this Collective, mind-numbing caricatures of nobility, took the airwaves to protest against EuroMillions and rally other rich people to their cause, because EuroMillions allows poor to become rich people, and that is simply unacceptable. The dialogue and other situations serving to caricature "rich people" are excrutiatingly stupid and unfunny. You've got to give it to them, an ad for lottery has to appeal to the stupid—we know we're all too smart for that. However, while the atrocious quality fueled my anger against this ad, it certainly did not cause it. What infuriates me is often not actions, but the ideas behind those actions; indeed, this shitty ad presupposes several ideas about the world which not only are false but harmful to our minds when squirted into mass media. Let me recap what this ad implies:
That's the ultimate dishonesty of this ad: buying EuroMilions tickets is made out as a way to screw big business, when indeed buying tickets is just making the corporation's stockholders even richer—because Lord knows if you own stocks you're rich people. I'm not saying that buying goods and services from big corporations is bad. But the ad implies that it is, in order to get you to buy goods and services from a big corporation. As much as this scam angers the old geezer who lives in my brain, I can't help but look at it in its morbid elegance and think: this is just genius.
- There are two clear set categories of people: rich people, and poor people.
- Rich people are elitist bastards who have inherited their wealth and done nothing to earn or keep it, and with whom poor people have nothing in common;
- and yet, the life goal of poor people should be to become rich people.
- The best way to become rich people is certainly not through hard work or strength of character (it is probably assumed that such traits are beyond the capacity of poor people);
- instead, the best, and indeed only possible way to become rich people is to play EuroMillions. (well, duh)
- Because you see, EuroMillions is a charitable deus ex machina which allocates wealth to poor people on a purely random basis, and certainly not a big multinational corporation.
After the ad campaign came the first drawing of the winner of the EuroMillions. And the winner of the first EuroMillions prize was, I'm sorry to say, a fat ugly middle-aged English woman, who came into twenty million euros. That's a lower figure in pounds, I suppose, but on the other hand it's bigger in dollars. Hell, that beats the 5-6 million you get from a typical French lottery. This made me proud, in a way. An English woman won in a lottery that the French, the Germans and the others pitched in, and she won more because together we can make a bigger lottery. It's not much of an achievement, of course. It's not a common European diplomacy or anything, but for a short moment when I heard that, I felt a little pride in our weird European Union.
Before I could wander in one of my frequent reveries about what I'd do if I won the lottery, the newscaster followed up the announcement with the woman's own declaration regarding what she planned to do. Turns out, she's a Julia Roberts fan. So she decided the first thing she'd do with her mountain of cash was to move to Beverly Hills and live life as a fat, ugly, middle-aged English alter ego of Julia Roberts.
My burst of pride in the European dream was shot down by this evidence that the American dream is alive and kicking. We make a European lottery system to promote and continue European integration, and the very first thing that the very first winner of the European lottery does is to get the fuck out of crummy old Europe forever, and go spend her European millions on American soil. Once again, it's not these economic consequences that are significant, but the involuntary symbol behind them. The English woman, like so many Europeans, felt no fulfillment in being in her country and her dream lay not in England, the UK or Europe, but in America, or rather in the image of itself that America exports with Hollywood and its pretty women.
Where is the European Julia Roberts who makes Americans dream to move to Europe? Hell, where is the European Julia Roberts who makes Europeans dream to live in Europe? Outside of Brussels, Strasbourg and the European intelligentsias, nobody in Europe cares about the European Union at all. And, what is perhaps even more frightening, the intelligentsias don't care that they're the only ones who care about the EU. But what Union is possible between people who don't want to live together? How can nations or a Union of nations hope to become a viable, attractive alternative to America when what their own people dream about and aspire to be is America? Hmm? Not with shitty ads for EuroMillions.
I wish I could tell you precisely how EuroMillions works, how many numbers you have to pick, how they're drawn, have a lot of technical factual stuff for this writeup. I also really want to win the EuroMillions prize and routinely daydream about what I'd do with the prize. I even pray to win the lottery every once in a while. I really wish I could tell you what it's like to play EuroMillions but I haven't bought a lottery ticket in my life.
Pint points out that "the american dream is to work your ass off and become something, an outgrowth of the puritan ethic, not 'come to american and sit on your ass spending free cash'." I am quite aware of that. But the American dream is really what anyone who dreams it makes of it. To a calvinist, the American dream is "work your ass off and thou shalt be rewarded in the afterlife," but to a middle class European woman, the American dream is the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.
It seems that many noders have got the hots for Audrey Tautou. Does she really compare in fame to Julia Roberts? It's not because you've heard about Audrey Tautou that trailer trash thinks "Oh, I wish I could be/fuck Julia Roberts!" She's nowhere near her wealth, either—the 20 mil that brit lady won is equivalent to what Julia makes in a single movie.
@ haze says This is quite funny: you go on for quite a while about something you know nothing about. You *do* have a future in law.