Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Corporations Rule the World

It's not a hard or especially new concept of corporations beginning to take the power from the masses. Companies hire people who are trained in how best to sway human thought, specifically in favor of the company. The two mega-corporations in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" both exert an enromous degree of influence over the populace. Interestingly enough, these corporations (Rosen Association and GTX respectively) have control over a product or service that is considered socially taboo. With the GTX firm, advertising has become a large part of the company's revenue, even though advertising is outlawed. The gravity of forbidden advertising that GTX specializes in is summed up at the start of the exchange between Mr. Cantle and Delphi on page in 13, which goes,

"Do you know what advertising is?"
He's talking dirty, hitting to shock. Delphi's eyes widen and her little chin goes up.

The initial revulsion that Delphi shows at the very idea of advertising is enough to make the reader think that such a thing in this future is extremely lewd to talk about. Yet, GTX makes their fortune off of communication and generating revenue by having their man-made gods and goddesses handle the products of manufacturers that pay them. The GTX company seems to have little other goals than to make a lot of money and sway human thought on advertising.

On the other hand, the Rosen Association seems to have other goals while additionally making a large portion of money. The Rosens produce androids, which is something of a taboo process because androids are treated as slaves in the colonies (with many reports of them rebelling and killing their masters) and they are a pest on the radioactive surface of Earth. Rick Deckard gets the sense of how his testing of the new Nexus-6 brain-type on Earth could potentially bankrupt one of the largest corporations around if the tests used to detect androids became obsolete. All of chapter four and most of chapter five in DADES has Rick Deckard testing Rachel Rosen about whether she is an android or human. When Deckard declares that Rachel is an android (and though they deny it and eventually find out that she, indeed, is an android) he cannot outright retire her because the company claims her as property. Rachel proves to be a test that the Rosen Association meant to void the Voigt-Kampff and therefore mix the android population in with the human population. It also would not be a leap that the Rosen Association has a hand in Buster Friendly's affairs, as he is supposedly an android who attempts to demonize the values of Mercerism which is the most substantial barrier between humans becoming mixed with androids. Buster Friendly handled all forms of media and therefore, like GTX, the Rosen Association would have quite a degree of control over advertising and how humans perceive products and other people.

What both companies in both books shows is an explicit action to control a given populace's mind or perception. The implicit value is actually gaining money. When the two factors are combined, both companies become extremely powerful and become major players in both works of fiction that they appear in.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

As I've mentioned before, I used to work in a couple different corporate IT departments. Although IT people tend to hate human resources people, their deep and undying hatred is typically reserved for the marketing people -- "marketing droids," as they are often called (behind their backs). The hatred is, I believe, often reciprocated.

So the IT people, who enable the Marketing droids, deeply despise the marketing droids who they empower (or even, in P. Burke's case, create).

Which goes to show that corporations are complicated places, as the contrast between your post and Mike's makes clear. I actually think you're both right: corporations (at least well-run ones) have a powerful drive for wealth and power, which can overshadow all else - yet consumers are hardly innocent in this process, as Mike points out.

Anyway, to focus my point. Your analysis of corporate power in both works is a great start, but you end (like Tim) at what actually would have been a pretty good point to more or less begin. We all know that corporations want money and power. So do we, as individuals, at least most of us. What's more interesting, perhaps, is where exactly the balance between money and power falls, and whether our thought is succesfully controlled (or whether, like Mike says, they just give us what we want).

Here's one explanation I have for why IT people hate marketing droids: IT people (partially because most of them are very bright, partially because most of them are straight white men) want to believe in their own mental autonomy - the marketing droids threaten that (which is related to the fact that women tend to play a large role in marketing departments, unlike in most IT departments).