Happy Fourth of July. We’re taking our annual summer vacation, a time to recharge our batteries for the upcoming dog days, and we’ll be back with new posts the week of July 16. In the meantime, a prophetic musical interlude. In recent posts, Kent Anderson has talked about the use of overwhelming choice as a means of stifling choice (most recently here). Too many choices often leaves the user paralyzed, and more likely to submit to the default choice chosen by the provider, even if it’s not in that user’s best interests.

This brings to mind our July 4 post from 2016 and the band X, with their song “See How We Are”:

Now there are seven kinds of Coke,
500 kinds of cigarettes,
This freedom of choice in the USA drives everybody crazy…

But even more so, it made me think about the long-running art project known as Devo. What once seemed a joke about about the “de-evolution” of our species in the early 1970s now seems increasingly, painfully accurate.

The band has long had a fascination with consumerism, and perhaps their most subversive acts were licensing their dystopic, anti-commercialism anthem “Beautiful World” for a Target advertisement, or even better, the creation of Dev2.0, a children’s band covering Devo songs, produced and released by Disney no less.

Below, their 1980 video for “Freedom of Choice”. As the seemingly opposed red and blue (state?) skateboarders are all assimilated into homogenized, denim-clad automatons, the lyrics shift from “Freedom of choice, is what you’ve got…” to “Freedom from choice, is what you want…”

Happy Independence Day.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

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Discussion

4 Thoughts on "Fourth of July: Use Your Freedom of Choice (We’re on hiatus)"

another prophetic song: “In the Year 2525,” by Zager and Evans.

The average person in America doesn’t have a lot of choice because of financial constraints. As far as search strategy goes, the human brain is more than capable of skimming and ignoring the fluff. With the death of malls and the move to only buy what is beautiful, consumerism is dying. In summary, enjoy your time off without defining America as a land of overwhelming choice.

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