THIS IS THE ENDD
TRACY JEANNE ROSENTHAL
“This Is The ENDD” is a lecture-performance and power-point presentation commissioned for Rhizome’s symposium on e-cigarettes: This is The Electronic Nicotine Delivery Device. The performance delves into the factual past of cigarette advertising, in which cigarettes were linked to male power and the phallus, and offers a speculative campaign strategy for VUSE Digital Vapor cigarettes, recommending that VUSE be marketed to consumers as granting access to technology’s cock.
In 1929, Edward Bernays, founder of Public Relations, used Sigmund Freud (his uncle)’s theories to develop a campaign for women’s Lucky Strike. The slogan, “Torches of Freedom,” merged smoking and phallic empowerment. Contemporary e-cigarette advertisements fail to depart from this theme: VIP E-Cigs asks the viewer to “Whip it out,” through spokesman Stephen Dorff, blu commands “Take back your freedom,” and NJOY Kings claim, “Feels like the first time.”
The performance traverses this history to predict its sinister technological evolution. Since 1945, it argues, the shape of the cock in the minds of the consumer is no longer the cylindrical masculine object, but the chode-ish mushroom of technology—epitomized by the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb. Think of the word we use to describe what e-cigs allow us to do: “vaporize.” Think of the technology embedded in them that allows us to transform liquid into vapor: it’s the “atomizer.” Think of the singular sensation these e-cigarettes simulate: it’s the “hit.”
Using as evidence the maternal namesake of the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb, Enola Gay, the atomic cannon named after Betty Grable, and more, the performance re-evaluates America’s atomic history to pinpoint current consumer weaknesses: the vast chasm erupting between human emotional capacity and our destructive potential, the gender confusion emerging as technology replaces humans as objects of desire, and the settling shame that technology, rather than humans, are the agents of history. How can e-cigarettes help us “Rise Above the Flames?” “Namaste,” the ad begins…