Tea Leaves and Payola

An interesting, if a bit rambling,
piece in Wired by Momus, in which
he rhapsodizes about visiting Japan and finding more than cloyingly sweet drinks in the machines there. The vending
machines in Japan, we learn, serve green tea as well. OK, so that’s cool. But then Momus launches into a pondery (my
word) about the nature of, well, things. That is, consumer items. He wonders whether the green tea he has found is
there because of consumer demand or whether the large Japanese corporations have largely decided for consumers what
they want, what they will get. Who determines taste in a society? This leads him to consider the matter of payola and
music, and he offers up a fascinating tidbit from David Byrne’s
about how the talking Heads singer discovered that the popularity of Burning Down the House (and remember how
popular that was?! I do. Damn song was in my head for months.) was likely due to corporate influence. To payola. It is
a very interesting question, hence the reason I’m posting about it. It just got me to wondering about the nature of our
desires, how much they are the product of our own want versus the scheme of some cabal of marketing execs in a
boardroom. Food for thought, that’s all.