TUMBY BAY – Authenticity. It’s a concept that repeatedly appears in modern advertising.
It can range from claims that foods are just like grandma used to make, beers are ‘hand-crafted’ and motor vehicles have a link to our adventurous spirits or penchant for luxury.
The reality, of course, is completely different.
All of these commodities emerge from highly mechanised production lines with nary a grandma, craftsman, rugged outdoor type or lounge lizard in sight.
Earthier products like vegetables and fruit are also subject to the same kind of relentless production line economics.
Huge machines sow and harvest many of our basic foods from chemically treated and artificially irrigated soils. This is why the ‘fresh’ produce you buy in the supermarket tastes so bland.
Production line economics has even invaded areas like health and education.
Doctors churn through patient lists doling out seven minutes of advice and a paper scripts while universities spew forth ‘bricks in the wall’ graduates clasping degrees of increasingly dubious value.
None of these things, from the often dangerous foodstuffs emerging from their stainless steel production lines to the wide-eyed graduates clasping their precious pieces of paper, are in any way authentic. They are homogenous products of a homogenised system.
A guiding principle of production line economics is that human involvement is kept to a bare minimum and no one person is ever wholly responsible for a finished product. Products are, in effect, dehumanised.
Among others we can thank for this legacy are Ransom Olds (1864-1950), the owner of the Oldsmobile car plant, and the subsequent refinements of Henry Ford (1863-1947), who installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire motor vehicle.
Ford’s innovations reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to two hours and 30 minutes.
Production line economics quickly spread from the USA to the rest of the developed world. It now permeates just about every aspect of modern life and heralded the Americanisation of the globe.
In another context, the Australian human rights journalist, John Pilger, recently remarked that “we’re all US citizens”. He was characterising the ability of the USA to influence most aspects of everyday life, including the judiciaries, anywhere in the world.
No matter where we live we absorb America and its norms automatically. The simple act of turning on a television, for instance, inevitably subjects us to its ubiquitous rays.
If Big Brother had an accent it would be American and he would be grasping a Big Mac and insanely grinning.
You may have heard of the demise of the great Australian motoring marque, Holden, which was announced this week.
Petrol heads all over the country are lamenting its imminent passing.
The fact is that Holden was never an Australian car. It was an American car made in Australia by an American company. Holden cars had all the characteristics of a typical ‘Yank Tank’. They were big, tinny, prone to rust and guzzlers of prodigious amounts of fuel.
The Americans long ago homogenised Australian authenticity, repackaged it and sold it back to us.
These days to find anything remotely authentic you have to go to the far corners of the world’s developing nations.
It is only in the deep forests and hot, sandy deserts that you will find true authenticity.
But you had better be quick. The creeping plague of Americanisation is seeping into even the most far flung crevasses of the world.
Their agents never sleep and they are relentless. There is nothing that can stop them.
You think the Chinese might be a counterbalance? Think again. The Chinese have been comprehensibly Americanised and they are spreading the American plague just as much as any other nation.
The largest McDonald's in the world opened on 23 April 1992, in Beijing. It has 700 seats, 29 cash registers, and served over 40,000 customers on its opening day.
America is no longer a simple nation. It is a way of life and it has taken over the world. The USA could vanish off the face of the earth but its legacy will remain.