Search - Frontline: The Merchants of Cool on DVD

Frontline: The Merchants of Cool
Frontline The Merchants of Cool
Actors: Douglas Rushkoff, Shaggy 2 Dope, Christina Aguilera, Greg Berlanti, Bob Bibb
Director: Barak Goodman
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     0hr 55min

Studio: Pbs Release Date: 05/04/2009 Run time: 60 minutes


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Movie Details

Actors: Douglas Rushkoff, Shaggy 2 Dope, Christina Aguilera, Greg Berlanti, Bob Bibb
Director: Barak Goodman
Creators: Douglas Rushkoff, Barak Goodman, David Fanning, Kimberly Tabor, Lisel Banker, Michael Sullivan, Rachel Dretzin
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Aguilera, Christina, Television, Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 10/04/2005
Original Release Date: 02/27/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 02/27/2001
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 55min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Show this to any teenager you can.
lighten_up_already2 | Kirkland, WA USA | 02/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you are a parent of a teenager, a teacher, or a youth minister, or anyone else who works with teens, somehow get them to watch this. I found it downright chilling and I watched it again right before I wrote this review.

This documentary isn't about bashing teens. It's about exposing a very small number of huge media corporate conglomerates (just seeing who ownes who is fascinating) who work around the clock to determine the next "cool" trend among teens. They study the teens who are on the cutting edge to determine what the next cool thing is and then they package whatever it is and mass market it to the general teen audience. Of course, once whatever-it-is goes mainstream, it isn't cool anymore.

They also study the strictly average teen, not the super gifted or the overachievers, to determine how to reach this population with their marketing. Teens then conform to what they've been sold. They buy products with money often given to them by their parents. The media moguls pocket the money, and then try to figure out the next "cool" thing, and the never ending cycle continues.

I could go on, but I can't really do justice to what is my favorite episode of Frontline. I've leant my copy to several friends and they've all been enlightened to things that they never suspected were happening. Truth is often stranger than fiction. This might have been sci-fi fifty years ago.

The take home lesson to me is that being cool sucks. It sucks your brain out of your head and your money out of your wallet. This is true particularly if you're trying to buy coolness. It's best to be who you are and let others decide how cool that is.

If you are a parent of teens, pull the TV cable out of the wall and stop giving teens money. Make them earn it.

Finally, be sure to get the movie "Josie and the Pussycats" to see the same subject dealt with in a fun and satirical way."
Marketing to kids.
Preston C. Enright | Denver, CO United States | 06/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film exposes some of the marketing techniques used on young people.
I'm glad to read that another reviewer shows it to his students each year.
Another teacher who showed it to her class was less impressed with the response it received from some students who thought it was dated. There are some more recent documentaries on this issue from the Media Education Foundation, but this Frontline presentation is a good place to start.

I learned in the film The Corporation that some psychologists hired by the corporate world work to achieve a high "nag factor," that is an intense pressuring from kids on parents to purchase particular items for them. The techniques are many, and are constantly used on adults as well. Another related field to marketing is public relations. PR's founder, Edward Bernays, wrote a book called Propaganda, that was utilized by Joseph Goebbels during the rise of fascism. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, boasted that "If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it."

To counter all of this propaganda, I'd suggest the following resources:
Adbusters - Adbusters also offers items for teachers to use in the classroom.
Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel
So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids
New Moon: the Magazine for Girls & Their Dreams This commercial free magazine written by and for girls, includes a lot of insightful comments on media manipulation from the girls.
Teen Voices This magazine is for young women.
Hopefully there will someday be magazines that aren't manipulating boys and young men in the service of corporate interests.
Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky and the Media This documentary has become something of a movement, inspiring a new level of media criticism and countless efforts to create grassroots media.
Chomsky's work has been a big influence on Amy Goodman of the independent news hour, "Democracy Now!." Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times"
Good, but not great
Laura OBrien | Los Angeles, CA USA | 05/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I purchased this title to show to my senior high school Economics students thinking it would fire up a lot of discussion about how teenagers are manipulated. Instead it elicited yawns and many comments about how the material was dated and didn't apply to them. I'm still deciding whether or not to include it in next year's curriculum."
Amazing commentary on popular culture
S. Zedler | 01/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I teach a popular culture class at the high school level, and usually begin the class with this documentary. It gets students thinking about important questions, specifically: "Why do I do what I do and make the decisions I make?" To reduce the answer to this question to something as easy as, "Because corporations and advertisers tell me to" is obviously an oversimplification, but that can be part of the answer, and this documentary provides a very watchable way of presenting that side."