Introduction to Mass Media – VMA 111
The Ad and the Ego – January 9, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College
1. What do the filmmakers mean when they say advertising is “a form of education,” and “ a tool of socialization?”
Advertising in American society is ubiquitous, pervading any and all available spaces. Through sheer presence, advertising has cultural and social impact. Americans are inundated with ads, starting from youth. It can be argued that more young Americans spend time with media and advertising than with traditional education. In this way, advertisers have great influence on how American’s view their world and themselves. Advertising is so pervasive and influential that it creates social associations with products. A collective group may adopt a product due to a perceived association with their lifestyle; an association developed through advertising.
2. What do they mean when they say “Advertising is the Dream Life of a Culture?” Relate this to Pavlov’s association experiment.
Advertising injects values into item’s whose utility is not great enough to effectively sell the product. Advertising suggests our beliefs in the supernatural and the technological will help us achieve these values when melded. These values reflect the dreams, desires and emotions of the individual, which are powerful and potent tools for product association. Advertising creates emotional associations when meaning is infused to products, often through imagery and symbolism. These associations recall the “need” for the product when the individual feels that they feel inadequate or inferior. Advertising is often the same mechanism that creates these feelings of inadequacy or inferiority. This association is similar to Pavlov’s psychology experiment with salivating dogs and stimuli. Emotion and desire become stimuli that prompt the consumer to “salivate” for associated product.
3. According to the film, what are the ecological consequences of advertising and the consumer culture?
The health of a consumer economy directly correlates to the consumption of resources. Advertising does not concern itself with where a product comes from or where a product goes to after consumed. This invisibility divorces the consumer from environmental responsibility. Consumption is made to look beautiful and desirable – while the effects of consumption are not part of the conversation. Unsustainable production and consumption result – resources are used up and the environment is polluted with byproduct. Consumption nations, which comprise only a small percentage of the global population, are largely indifferent or unaware of the effects of their consumption on resource nations. In order to sustain consumption, dominance is exerted over third world resource nations. This dominance is often violent, but the objectification and indifference to third world populations and environments allow consumer nation’s to perpetuate the cycle.