Mad Men starts its final season on Sunday. It's a victory lap for one of TV's most successful products. It's ironic (like the show) that its triumph happened on cable, which is the TV form not dependent on ads alone, and that it happens at a time of serious decline for advertising itself, which for over a century was the linchpin of the capitalist system.
At least that's Jeremy Rifkin's claim in his latest hosanna to the virtues of the Internet: The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Advertising belonged to a capital-heavy, hierarchical, vertically integrated era passing away, being replaced by a co-operative, horizontal, networked culture. So consumer reviews, directly accessed, supplant expensive ad campaigns from corporate HQs.