Los 33, Meet 15

No doubt, you’ve heard about the Chilean miners who have been trapped in a gold and copper mine for the last 60 days or so. Yes, that is a very long time in the dark with a bunch of other men who need a shower. On the other hand, it seems that the mine cave-in spared every single man on the shift. That’s cause to give some real thanks. During a typically grim search and rescue operation following the cave in, searchers heard sounds about a half- mile below the surface. Various holes were bored to enable communication, and jubilation ensued. Families wept, loved ones spoke and a whole tent village named “Camp Hope” was set up near the mine. Ever since, there’s been a melee of rescue workers, government officials, extended families and the press. A nearby area was even leveled in order to make room for all the broadcast equipment and requisite trailers. Victory! Oh wait – the miners aren’t rescued yet. Alive yes, rescued, no. And there’s always the possibility that the rescue won’t be a piece of cake. But that hasn’t stopped the families of the miners and a lot of other people from leveraging the present and future fame and income to be derived from the biggest news story of the summer. Wives and mothers and aunts and goodness knows who else have been accused of sneaking off to make appearances on news and talk programs, and deals are being cut for when the miners finally reach the surface. They’ve been dubbed “Los 33,” which is pretty catchy. Even better, a crafty director named Rodrigo Ortuzar is capturing in depth footage of all the activity and writing a screenplay simultaneously. Are you kidding me? There are 33 men trapped a half-mile deep and we’re playing Let’s Make a Deal up top? (Sigh). I suppose it was inevitable. You have a bunch of blue-collar miners who can easily make more bank off this incident than they ever have in the mines, and you have a sensational story that we’ll all eat up for months to come. Word is the miners are even taking classes on handling fame and media exposure. I don’t blame them for that, because they do have an awful lot of time on their hands right now.

But just when did we become a world of fame jackals? In 1968, Andy Warhol mused, “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” More and more, it appears that he may have been right. And we seem to be hungrier and hungrier for it. Fame used to be a by-product of certain occupations or deeds. Now, it seems to be something we seek in any way possible. We have so many celebrities, we create entire categories for them A-list celebs are not the same as D-listers, but they’re both better than your average Joe. We want to be near them, as if fame has applied some sort of transferable magic that could rub off. Maybe it’s because we’re so afraid of real life that we feel an incredible need to escape to fantasy. Maybe it’s just because we smell money.

I worked with a strategist who was very good at understanding how the past informs the future. As he and I were talking one day, he offered that modern day Americans believe they’re playing a part in a “story.” Movies have largely done this to us, because we’ve watched all sorts of characters play their roles and we now more or less believe that’s what life is – a story. But previous generations didn’t live this way at all. They lived, they worked, they played and they died. And it didn’t occur to them that there was a story going on around them. None of the Americans I’ve known who fought in World War II have ever spoken of it that much. They’ve never seen it as a “story” that must be told. They saw it as a war and they saw service as a duty. Then they left it behind as much as possible. Would we be more content if we weren’t so pre-occupied with “storytelling” now? I don’t know. But I do think that the instant assessment of all situations to determine whether or not a story exists that can be “monetized” somehow diminishes the nobility of certain events and of certain lives. Stories do enrich our lives, for certain. We just have to make sure they don’t cheapen our world in the process.

For more on “Los 33:” http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-51419520100910


  1. I was just doing some surfing on my Jack Phone during my break at my work place, and I came across something I thought was intriguing. It linked over to your website so I clicked over. I can’t really figure out the relevance between your site and the one I came from, but your site good none the less .

    • admin says:

      Lol. My site is still evolving, for sure. I’m a marketing and advertising guy, and this blog is an expression of how I see the evolution of the industry. When I started in advertising (not so terribly long ago), I was a “copywriter.” I wrote headlines and little chunks of words for advertisements that appeared in magazines and maybe television. There was no real conversation between brands and their consumers – just brands squawking about themselves. So much has changed, and now the landscape is incredibly dynamic. Conversations between brands and informed, engaged consumers are everywhere, as are conversations between the consumers themselves (about the brands). When you add the continuing convergence of the Web and television (and with things like iPad and Kindle, print too), it’s an amazing time. I’m writing about the things that are relevant now and, I suppose, how marketing people might think going forward. Glad to have you here! – Alan

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