Advertising – The Joseph Goebbels Of Capitalism
To my mind, it is amazing – if you take a longer, wider perspective – that advertising is permitted at all. It deliberately, explicitly and freely hypnotises millions of people into believing the myths of capitalism, which thereupon proceeds to exploit those same people. Propaganda or polemic is easily labelled as such, even by the zombie scions of the capitalist system (“enlightened self-interest” anyone?), yet advertising is viewed as a necessary, and even a fun or clever aspect of the whole system.
One of the ironies of all this is how people think subliminal messages can be sent via advertising – something proven to be false in recent experiments – whereas the actual cloak-and-dagger stuff is that advertisers are allowed to get away with shocking psychological manipulation, which in the political or military sphere would be little short of brainwashing.
For brainwashing is undoubtedly what advertising is in its modern, media-savvy form. Goebbels would admire what technology-fuelled capitalism has done to sculpt the minds of consumers since the 1950s. The television, the cinema, and across the internet – these are the deadly mouthpieces of capitalism.
I am tempted to use the phrase idiot consumers, as, to me at least, the sheer juvenility of television advertising (for instance) is so easy to see through it’s comical. The invention of fake problems, the incessant use of the word new, “celebrity” endorsement, the imaginary and entirely unrealistic lifestyles… surely these should be techniques utilised by more dystopia writers? I’m surprised only a few have used such ideas. Well, Terry Gilliam at least grasped their power in his film Brazil (whose working title was 1984½) if the endless vistas of advert-plastered roads is anything to go by.
Modern media advertising is psychologically acute, in the same way that a torturer is psychologically acute. With great perceptiveness it exploits the natural weaknesses of some people, then adds a whole new set.
Don’t believe the hype.