Authentocracy in America: Our brands, ourselves.

… Which is why Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture, by Sarah Banet-Weiser, is an interesting book, because it makes it its business to find the halfway point between this so-called infantilizing commerce and the world of the authentic and real—thus that “ambivalence.”

“In the contemporary US,” writes the author, “building a brand is about building an affective, authentic relationship with a consumer, one based—just like a relationship between two people—on the accumulation of memories, emotions, personal narratives, and expectations.” …

Banet-Weiser, a professor at USC, clearly came to this world of commerce with deep academic suspicion, but to her credit she left with—well, not an appreciation, but a sort of hesitant, furrowed-brow empathy. There are worse things than living in the same world as Beyoncé and Applebee’s, and this book, in its attempt to describe the “transformation of culture of everyday living into brand culture,” doesn’t imagine otherwise. [cont.]

Paul Ford, Slate