Topic Selection: Infomercials (By: Benjamin Morton)

Infomercials have undoubtedly made their presence felt in today’s world of television. These lengthy advertisements have become commonplace within independent and corporate owned stations, and they continue to successfully separate people from their hard earned cash. While I have resisted these manipulative messages up until now,

I can admit that they are tempting and creative in their approach. Infomercials often instill a sense of inadequacy and inferiority within their audience, and reinforce the idea that purchasing their products will quiet these emotions. Thus, the manufactured goods that are featured in these advertisements aren’t just desired for their surface level functions, but also for their ability to mend personal insecurities. For the purpose of this exercise, there will be emphasis on the present ideologies within infomercials and their connection to contemporary pop culture.

Over time, many different types of products and goods have been offered through infomercials. Whether these items have appealed to people’s sense of order and convenience, such as the “magic bullet” blender, or their addition to physical fitness, such as the “shake weight” dumbbell, each of today’s available products are a result of unnecessary innovation. In fact, most infomercial goods are laughable and fall victim to extreme ridicule. However, these seemingly absurd creations—let us not forget the “snuggie”—are often successful for this very reason, if not for their actual function or purpose. People who regularly purchase items from infomercials are playing into the hand of consumerism, exercising style over substance, and supporting the individual over the collective good. These are all ideologies that fuel hegemony and corporate capitalism, and cast a shadow on individual freedom and originality. By studying infomercials and people’s underlying responses to them, I believe our class will further uncover the negative implications of advertising and become more media literate. Infomercials tend to hyperbolize their product’s ability, which helps create a humorous and enlightening viewing experience. Moreover, I am sure that at least a fraction of our class has been lured in by these tricky advertisements, and could offer their own encounters and understandings of these messages.

“Gain your confidence back and feel more comfortable about going outside within weeks!” If this excerpt sounds familiar, chances are you have been bombarded with your fair share of infomercials. These types of assumptions about consumer unhappiness and discontent can cause people to have extremely distorted beliefs. More specifically, men who lack chiseled abs and women who do not have toned arms are prone to believing that they are less significant than those who do. This psychological technique is commonplace in these types of advertisements, where people’s primary desire is to become someone else—or someone that they are not. During this phase, infomercials become less humorous and more destructive towards people’s self-esteem.

Evidenced by the examples I have provided, infomercials would serve as a great topic for a class discussion and individual examination. And while studying this subject probably won’t help us build muscle or trim fat, it will certainly make us more confident in our ability to filter out all that is wrong in today’s advertisements.

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