Samsung’s Dreamwork

I got this ad on YouTube on Monday and have not been able to stop thinking about it since.

In this cutesy little animated advertisement, Samsung explain that whilst everyone in the 1960s was suckered in by Space Race hype, they were more interested in the terrestrial struggles of everyday people. And they’re still on that emancipatory quest today!

Remember that old Apple advert that Mark Fisher wrote about? The “1984” Super Bowl one? This feels like the wet fart contemporary equivalent of that — woke capitalism meets communicative capitalism on a starry-eyed nostalgia trip.

Whereas Apple declared “we’re the bright colourful female future of post-Soviet freedom”, Samsung says “we’re the American (but really Korean) historical materialists liberating the working class for over 50 years with technological household amenities.” It’s hard to know which message is more ambitious and unnervingly misleading…

Because it’s a lie, right? It’s an attempt to construct this new reality — through the waking Freudian “dreamwork” of PR — that Samsung cares about people’s lives. The future doesn’t belong “to those who explore and challenge earlier than others.” If Samsung is to be a shining example of late-twentieth-century success, it’s tagline should be: “The future belongs to those who buy-in earlier than others.” After all, that’s how they survived the start of the iPhone years — by being Apple’s main supplier of microchips, no doubt buoyed by years of horrific Heart-of-Darkness cobalt mining adventures.

The advert is obviously an incredibly selective and audacious retcon and, when I struggled to find the video online at first, I just assumed they’d decided to bottle it because it’s too cringe. No such luck.

Samsung are here demonstrating their commitment to wha Mark Fisher called “communicative capitalist realism”, spinning yarns of woke familiarity and innovation so that they can float above reality in their capitalist dreamworld:

Communicative capitalist realism acts as if the collectivisation of desire and resources had already happened. In actuality, the imperatives of communicative capitalism obstruct the possibility of communication, by using actually existing cyberspace to reinforce current modes of subjectivity, desocialisation, and drudgery.

It’s not unusual, by any means, but I think this is the most on-the-nose example of this new brand of capitalist realism that I’ve ever seen.

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