Season 19, Episode 11 The Merchants of Cool

First Aired: February 28, 2001

In “The Merchants of Cool,” media commentator Douglas Rushkoff explores why teenagers buy what they tell themselves to buy (with a nudge from media conglomerates). The problem: “cool” is hard to find, and once marketers do find and market something that's “cool,” it ceases to be so. Rushkoff follows “cool hunters” as they track teen tastes, and marketers as they try to camouflage their intentions. His case studies: MTV and “Dawson's Creek.” His conclusion: “It's a giant feedback loop. The media watches kids and then sells them an image of themselves.”

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  • Premiered: January 1, 1983
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  • Premise: PBS's primary public-affairs documentary series, `Frontline' focuses on one (usually timely) topic each program. Overseen since its inception by executive producer David Fanning, it has been honored regularly over the years, winning 34 DuPont-Columbia awar… (more)

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