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Strip clubs are hijacking the CES 2016 hashtag on Instagram

Strip clubs are hijacking the CES 2016 hashtag on Instagram

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Strippers, casinos, nightclubs with free limo pick-up, an evening DJ-ed by Steve Aoki — the choices presented for those searching the CES 2016 hashtag on Instagram are endless.

It's not uncommon for "spam" to take over an Instagram hashtag. What's interesting about this particular invasion is its geographic precision — these are all real Vegas locales, as far as I can glean. You have to respect the marketing savvy. Why would you send someone to stand on the strip passing out fliers when your target audience is one of the most digitally connected in the world?

Vegas understands supply and demand

And these posts aren't merely there — they're dominating. They're sprinkled fairly heavily amid shots of Sphero's BB-8 droid (the darling of CES), celebrity selfies (Adrian Grenier is a Dell fan, apparently), and zillions of not-so-humble brags about successfully test-riding a self-balancing scooter.

CES has a seedy history to say the least — it held hands with the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo for years, with some estimating that about 40 percent of CES attendees were also spending time with the porn stars down the street. In 2016, the tech industry obviously can't afford to be so blatant. Yes, it's funny that strippers are maintaining their prominence at an event that is at least superficially about professionalism, appearances, and sanitized press statements, and doing it by invading the very platforms the tech industry holds dear. But it also makes perfect sense.

The convention center halls, hotel ballrooms, and branded lounges of CES are full of eager businesspeople and marketers, hawking their wares to buyers and the press. They hope they've identified (or artificially engineered) a need and then filled it with a product — that's the basic mandate of capitalism. Save a fresh coat of paint, it's no different than what the city of Vegas does when it sees 170,000 members of a predominantly male and largely wealthy industry descend on a single patch of desert.

People who need a $100 smart thermometer to quantify their fevers are just as susceptible to basic desires as anyone else — no matter what all these press conferences lauding human perfection and squeaky clean futurism may have you believe. Baser desires — like the one to see attractive people naked, or to forget your age by popping some molly and hitting the Skrillex set, or sip champagne in a Hummer just to feel like a big shot — have a market too.

The whole city has to prepare for CES — certainly the city's hotels, casinos, Starbucks, and car services profit nicely off of Silicon Valley's yearly sojourn. Seedier businesses are operated by business people, too. Wherever go humans, so go human vices.

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