The Cult Of “Crisp And Clean”

Posted: December 4, 2010 in Corporate Stupidity, Cultural Brainwashing, Philosophy and Speculation, Rants

There’s a subtle, tyrannical, effort in modern society to make everything and everyone “Crisp and Clean”.  Some would say this is merely a symptom of humanity’s need to distance itself from it’s connection to the natural world.  A savage and uncontrollable world that bides it’s time bound under shackles of concrete, asphalt, and antibiotics.  Waiting for the perfect time to shrug us off into oblivion.

Does this smug, antiseptic, reality tunnel serve any purpose other than to trick us into thinking we’re ultimately in control here?  I think it does.  I think it’s the most efficient brainwashing tool humanity has ever seen.  I think if corporate America (or corporate anywhere, really) had to choose just one tactic to keep humanity enslaved to a lifestyle of mass consuming servitude, it would choose The Cult Of Crisp And Clean.

Many of us have seen direct evidence of this ever-growing cult in the changes that recently took place back on Myspace.  I personally have seen Sean Percival (director of Myspace marketing or something like that) use the term “Crisp And Clean” at least three times in addressing the forced changes that were implemented with the unveiling of New Myspace.  Many of the more complacent Myspacers have told us “Well if you don’t like it, then leave.  You don’t own Myspace, so deal with it!”  And so we did.  It’s a good thing we did, too.

A handy side effect of living within a society that’s obsessed with enforcing a crisp and clean lifestyle upon it’s populace is it makes citizens desperately crave any form of self expression or individuality.  This is a perfect way to keep your citizens actively consuming.  The more individuality you strip away, the more pre-approved and corporate packaged “individuality” you can sell to the masses.

Self expression is now primarily confined to consumerism.  We can’t express ourselves at work.  The customer must always be right and we must always adhere to the uniform standards of the workplace.  Oh and keep that top button buttoned or the world might come to an end.  It’s getting to where our children know almost nothing of self expression or individuality as more and more schools adopt uniform codes.

They say it’s to prevent gang violence, yet Walmart keeps cutting checks (donations if you will) to school board members for “development projects”.  Breaking the expressive souls of our little children.  Creating an empty place for them to yearn to fill.  A smart and sound investment for the largest retailer in America.

Why do you think performers like Lady Gaga are so popular?  Because they do things normal citizens only wish they could do.  The more celebrities act out and wear bizarre and revealing outfits, the more the public eats it up.  This is because these cultural icons represent something that is missing within the lives of everyday citizens.  After spending 8+ hours a day bored to tears and bound within some stuffy corporate uniform policy, folks want nothing more than to live vicariously through some celebrity that snorts cocaine in public or wears a crazy looking dress made out Day-Glo dildos.  And they’ll pay through the nose for the privilege.

I still marvel at how business execs could personally own every Lady Gaga CD, yet spend their professional days firing employees for disregarding corporate uniform standards.  I remember when I worked for a national chain of music stores I ran into this same type of thing.  One week they decided to forbid warehouse workers from wearing shorts solely for the purpose of making the store’s staff look more “crisp and clean”.  The next week they sent out a life sized cutout of Dimebag Darrell wearing ripped shorts and throwing up devil horns to be mandatorily displayed by the Washburn/Dean guitar section in all stores nationwide.

How is it that every place of business operates under the belief that everyone in the world is a tight-assed prude, yet at the end of the work day, our televisions operate under the belief that everyone wants to see tits, ass, sex, skin, and violence?  The cult of Crisp And Clean makes it’s living of off our repressed desires.  The sin isn’t worth buying if it isn’t packaged in luxurious gobs of taboo.

It’s amazing this culturally enforced duality doesn’t drive us totally insane.  Perhaps it has.  Who are we to say we’re not insane.  Look at all the crazy hoops we jump through on a daily basis out of some misplaced sense of conformist obligation.  If that ain’t crazy, I don’t know what is.

You’ve already agreed to wear their uniform.  You’ve already dressed your child in their uniform.  You probably went out and spent money you didn’t have in order to make that happen.  Now the customer is always right, no matter how mean and vindictive they become.  How many relationships have you seen get destroyed due to the demands of the Crisp And Clean Cult?  I was told once by a regional manager to keep my wife on a tight leash or she might end up costing me my job.  At that point, my wife had said less than ten words to him.  He didn’t know her, he just knew he didn’t want anyone’s spouse interfering with the will of the Crisp And Clean Cult.

I’ve seen people forced to take out loans to buy new automobiles because “their appearance reflected directly upon the company”.    I once knew a district manager that was so obsessed with Crisp And Clean, he bought a second house just so he could have a perfectly manicured Show House to host business meetings at.  His wife and children were trained to show up before the meetings and pretend everything was business as usual as if they actually lived there.  These are true stories, folks.

So here’s the big question:  How far will humans go in order to please the leaders of the Crisp And Clean Cult?

The answer lies within each and every one of us.

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Comments
  1. osolynden says:

    Love this. Seems your writing just keeps developing and getting more on point.
    You write “The more individuality you strip away, the more pre-approved and corporate packaged “individuality” you can sell to the masses.”

    I once dealt with a gift-ware company whose Motto was “Things that say beyond words who you are”.

    Think about that… It’s insidious.

    I have to go now and put on my freshly laundered and starched white apron and smear antibacterial wipe all over my body.

  2. texshelters says:

    Moosehammer,

    This is excellent!

    My take away is that we have to act all buttoned down and conform for no reason and then we idolize those that get to break out. Uniforms don’t increase productivity, but I do understand that there are limits to what we wear at work. I would never let an employee dress like Lady Gaga for example. However, I wouldn’t be a hard ass. Target allows workers to wear any clean red shirt they want. Thus, it’s a uniform with room for personal preference.

    What is worse is how we take this Clean Cult into our personal lives and can’t handle anything original from our friends, relatives and others. Luckily I spent my early twenties in SF where anything goes and my friends encouraged originality. And in high school I intentional broke the unwritten rules of dress by wearing yellow pants with red and blue striped shirts, or nany blue army jackets with fedoras, etc.

    From the Band Killing Joke: “Chop Chop”

    “We paint the walls and the ceiling white to feel clean inside…”

    Peace,
    Tex Shelters

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