What’s your “driving force”?

By Gwendolyn

In the advertisement for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Manifesto from DCH Chrysler, currently airing on Youtube, we see a montage of clips through Americas history of builders. The visionary ideal, that what we create in this country defines us, makes us who we are. The images it uses  alludes to an American ideology that prospered, thrived and dominated. The commercial further fortifies the doctrine that the product fulfills the company ideology, while mashing this doctrine up with the popular culture symbolism of a different time, not so long ago.  My parents grew up during this period and when I had them watch this commercial they could feel the tug of American patriotism which has seemed to dim in their hearts during recent years.

Popular culture has been something that has undoubtedly surrounded me where ever I have traveled. It lives in every culture, especially right here in America. I found this particular clip fascinating due to the fact that certain images, in particular the fast cutting flashes, reference things from our past that we may now consider to be All-American moments in time. That time in history that made its mark to be molded into what makes up our culture. A particular example is a baseball mitt, representative of America’s favorite pastime, which shows an image relevant to when American heroes, that have endured time to be legends, thrived, such as Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. The commercial makes a point of showing victory scenes from past wars using their vehicles. Skyscrapers alluding to more ideological and economic prosperity connecting the prideful American and the vehicle itself create such a connection that the two become materially and psychologically inseparable. This association causes a strong and powerful feeling to accept the object as a sense of pride in what is made here in our own backyard.

Comparatively, to say Europe for an example, America was built in such a way that vehicles are an  essential need for commuting anywhere. To travel to work, to a movie, to run an errand, or simply to escape to an untouched wilderness urbanization setting, a vehicle is needed. With every country I have visited over the years, I have never seen a layout more targeted for the purchase of vehicles other than in my own country. Car commercials are quite aware of this and play up that fact by showing luxurious pristine shots of nature that may not be a hop and skip away. The company knows that for one to explore the outdoors and take the back road, one must own a vehicle. Like a castle or villa on  the sea we crave the freedom the car  promises, manipulating the ailing American psyche, aligning this car with whatever hopes there can be to return to prominence, not just globally but also personally.  The commercial spatters as many provoking images of Americana as it can within seconds, trying to hit pride pointers on what most people hold dear.

The statement “The things that make us Americans, are the things we make”, embodies the ideology of the commercial. This hyperbolizes the concept and states with force that the drive to produce products that instill American pride is still alive and fully embodied by their company. Referring to their product as their “son” pulls on hearts, and creates a connection with a powerful sense of civic-pride and the product at hand. This is a potent mixture many product commercials conduct. Advertisements aren’t just selling us their products, but are selling us ourselves. You could argue that a  person is in fact limiting their exposure by allowing their focus to be funneled to another’s desired point, in this case the temple of popular culture which is made up of many things; family, government imposed restrictions, mass media, and pop culture. If these are the main driving forces in someone’s ideology, then they preclude that person getting the ever-expanding pool to be exposed to. It’s a contradiction.

Reflecting upon my own life, there have been an outstanding amount of various influences from one extreme to the other on the spectrum of different ideologies. Between all the places I have traveled, and the variety of people I have met along the way, you could say furthers my own ideological formation in that I have an ever-growing pool to consider. When most fortunate, I even get to see the effects of people’s ideology on the people and environment around them. My experiences have had nothing but a positive role to play in my life, and fuels a process that should never really see its completion.

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