Ad-ding Insult to Injury

by Megan P.

Advertising is an ever present entity in our lives.  Some of us don’t even notice it anymore. From the moment we get up, until we go to sleep, every avenue of our lives is affected by corporations trying to get us to buy from them. From radio and television ads, commercials on the radio and blinking ads on the internet pages we use, billboards that peak at us along roads, the guy wearing the mattress sign on the corner, the running ads that we have to sit through before the youtube clip will play, almost every thought is being infiltrated by someone trying to make a buck.  In an attempt to achieve soaring levels of capitalism, companies have taken to guerilla advertisements as a way to manipulate our spending power.

When I go to the Fred Meyers the checkout clerk asks me if I have a Fred Meyer Rewards card.  If I sign up for this ‘money saving card’, I am allowing my purchases to be categorized, and will receive coupons of similar items.  Then Fred Meyer can sell my tracked purchases to marketing companies, so they can create better commercials and ads to sell me more STUFF!  What are we doing with all this stuff anyway?

Everything about us, from our marital status on Facebook, to our ‘extra belly weight’, is a potential money making, capitalist enterprise for someone.  In the ‘Merchants of Cool’, the Frontline documentary we watched in class, we witnessed the feedback loop of advertising, where teens fell victim to be more like what they saw in commercials, and advertisers watched them for a reaction to that same product.  The age old question: Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life?  (Or, does the lack of said art imitate the lack of said life) has become moot! Rather than an expression, a manifestation of emotion or insight to a greater truth, as fine art can be, advertising as commercial art is a desperate attempt to evoke a hollow purchasing response from us.  Books, classes and professional experts dedicated to studying the behavior of our psychology in order to profit from it. The attempted consistent manipulation is insulting because of the trivial and insubstantial consequences they deliver.  We are aware enough of our human condition to know what it takes to be fulfilled.  Right?

Capitalism was once seen by some as an innocent ideology, one in which Americans truly felt they were free to work and live.  Rising from the ashes of the Great Depression, capitalism could have seemed like the ticket to our immortality.  Today’s Capitalism has so widened the gap between those who are flourishing and those who are barely surviving, that it has become unrecognizable as the symbol it was in 1948. 

Everything seemed so simple back in 1948! Ah, if only…

In my attempt to come up with a solution to Capitalism, I found this ironic clip, with some tender ideas from Bill Gates:

In the meantime, I offer you some of my favorite ad-free magazines, for your reading pleasure, where writers try to convince you of things in the good, old fashioned way~

This entry was posted in Section 2, Winter 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

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