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blp
05-08-2006, 05:21 PM
The subject of advertising came up in the 'cultural homogenization' thread and I thought it sounded like material for a debate of its own.

The gist of the debate so far can be found somewhere around here, http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17088&page=3 especially in Virgil's post, and boils down to one of how we are affected by advertising. To put it simply, Virgil says we're not and Unnamable says we are - and negatively so. And that's the question: does advertising do harm and, if so, how? (hint: yes it does)

I think philosophy is the place for this because it's about our relationship and our perception's relationship to representation - mimesis to put it platonically. And anyway, someone'll probably cite Adorno here eventually.

To start things off, I'll quote Keats: 'We hate poetry that has a palpable design on us' and ask, if we agree, as most of us probably do, that we're affected by art and litertature, why would we not be affected by advertising?

woeful painter
05-08-2006, 09:45 PM
It still depends on the person...one cannot exactly generalize the whole population as having a one feeling of being hurt and so, but a majority can prove indismissable thoughts. Though, with today's type of ads, I believe certain ethics should be applied.

Gallantry
05-08-2006, 11:18 PM
I try to avoid the stench of advertisement whenever I can. There is few if anything more disturbing or annoying than someone trying to sell his wares out of interest for his own pocket. I'm not really contributing to the debate so I apologize.

water lily
05-09-2006, 04:39 AM
I think that advertisng has a significant effect on us--all of us that are exposed to it. Perhaps this is an extreme position, but having even briefly looked into the psychology that goes into advertising, it is scary. Anyone whoo has seen the documentary "Corporation" (which is EXCELLENT by the way) has an idea of what I mean.

Perhaps once we're educated and we "know better" it doesn't affect us AS MUCH. But so much advertising is aimed at kids who are the most vulnerable to it. All sorts of sugary garbage is targetted at them in commercials (McDonalds picked out the golden colour for their arches because it's the first colour toddlers recognize), and now there's an epidemic of obesity. Companies have done studies and found that something like half of all purchases wouldn't have been made if a child hadn't nagged his parents for the product, and so commercials are designed to encourage kids to nag their parents for things!

Anyways, I think that it is an blatant attack to control our attitudes, opinions, needs. Advertising is the propoganda of materialism. Who cares if in selling a product, women are objectified or kids become obese?! I mean as long as it sells...

Anyways, I guess the question boils down to this: Who is responsible for the change in our attitudes, opinions and perceived needs, us, as a responsible viewer who should screen what he or she sees and hears and think critically about it, or the marketers who are using advanced psychological techniques in an attempt to manipulate their target audience into buying a product?

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 07:55 AM
Anyways, I guess the question boils down to this: Who is responsible for the change in our attitudes, opinions and perceived needs, us, as a responsible viewer who should screen what he or she sees and hears and think critically about it, or the marketers who are using advanced psychological techniques in an attempt to manipulate their target audience into buying a product?
Ay, there’s the rub. As Billy Bragg once sang, “As long as you’re comfortable, it feels like freedom.” Milton would have agreed with him:

“But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty”

Samson Agonistes

I think the effort required now however, is far more than just ‘strenuous’. The first problem you have to deal with is the number of people who simply don’t accept that advertising has any effect. We are all free to choose, apparently. It doesn’t matter that almost a trillion dollars is spent annually on advertising - it fools no one. Imagine that – a trillion dollars just so we can have eighty different brands of hair gel and monogrammed chopsticks.

“Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.”

“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

Bob Dylan

blp
05-09-2006, 08:32 AM
I think the effort required now however, is far more than just ‘strenuous’. The first problem you have to deal with is the number of people who simply don’t accept that advertising has any effect. We are all free to choose, apparently. It doesn’t matter that almost a trillion dollars is spent annually on advertising - it fools no one. Imagine that – a trillion dollars just so we can have eighty different brands of hair gel and monogrammed chopsticks.

“Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.”

“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”

Bob Dylan

The Dylan quotes go right to the heart of it, but it's still a difficult point to make stick for those who believe the rhetoric, the myth if you like, of freedom and consumer power in the marketplace.

Full disclosure: I work on the fringes of advertising as a copywriter (cue cries of 'hypocrite'. We'll get to that later if we must). Most of the work I do is just information on web pages and not much involved in the high stakes game of spectacle and manipulation, but I am occasionally called upon to come up with 'concepts' for banner ads or microsites and the places I work do call themselves 'online ad agencies'. The process of 'concepting' as they call it in these places (in the modern idiom that relentlessly turns nouns into verbs) can reflect interestingly on my own writing, both in terms of the way it contrasts and the way it overlaps. The signal difference, however, is that what's termed 'negativity' is pretty much forbidden. Even an apparently innocuous sentence telling a consumer 'Don't worry', will likely be changed to something without the insidious twin bummers of 'don't' and 'worry'. When I first started, I doubted (with characteristic 'negativity') whether I was going to be able to do this kind of work at all, realising that my own work barely existed without negativity - real negativity, not just the little nuggets of it that advertising was constantly weeding out - and that the creative process in general felt empty without it.

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 08:55 AM
Full disclosure: I work on the fringes of advertising as a copywriter (cue cries of 'hypocrite'. We'll get to that later if we must).
:eek2: :eek2: :eek2:

Well, I guess that answers the question currently being asked on the Religious Texts thread – ‘Satan, who is he?’ :lol: Beware, fellow posters, he comes among us with stealth and evil intention. :nod:

No need for getting to it later – I only pretend to be a teacher: in actual fact I work for Lockheed Martin (in the landmine section).

blp
05-09-2006, 08:58 AM
Yesss. I had a feeling that might not go down terribly well.

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 09:07 AM
It could have been far worse – you could have confessed (why aggrandise it by calling it ‘disclosure’? :D ) to being a Forum Moderator – a job very similar to those ‘milk monitors’ we had in school. :D :D :D

blp
05-09-2006, 09:24 AM
Aggrandise? Confession sounds more dramatic to me. I was being legalistic.

Of course, I might be a forum moderator, but I'm trying to stay on topic. ;)

Logos
05-09-2006, 09:25 AM
oo00o.. a rap on the knuckles for both of you!

Logos
05-09-2006, 09:27 AM
"the tedium is in the message"-- me

:lol:

jackyyyy
05-09-2006, 10:18 AM
The subject of advertising came up in the 'cultural homogenization' thread and I thought it sounded like material for a debate of its own.

The gist of the debate so far can be found somewhere around here, http://www.online-literature.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17088&page=3 especially in Virgil's post, and boils down to one of how we are affected by advertising. To put it simply, Virgil says we're not and Unnamable says we are - and negatively so. And that's the question: does advertising do harm and, if so, how? (hint: yes it does)

I think philosophy is the place for this because it's about our relationship and our perception's relationship to representation - mimesis to put it platonically. And anyway, someone'll probably cite Adorno here eventually.

To start things off, I'll quote Keats: 'We hate poetry that has a palpable design on us' and ask, if we agree, as most of us probably do, that we're affected by art and litertature, why would we not be affected by advertising?I'm a little puzzled by the question, and what is it designed to achieve. I think everybody is in agreement that advertising has an effect and they may be affected, and I am not sure Virgil was making a broadband statement. The debate is whether advertising may be adverse or not, and at what point it is adverse. Here is an example to help get it kicked off:

Uninivited popups that take over your screen and show pics of naked people in some hope you will buy something you have absolutely no need for. Though I am bored to tears clicking the stuff off (and if my anti-popup fails), it could just as easily be a sensitive person, or more especially a child it sprung at, and the effect could be 'adverse'. Now, while its next to impossible today to stop this type of abuse, or catch the perpetrator, what is the effect of that abuse. My answer, apart any kind of immediate or long term grief, is, a 'numbing effect'. Now, that leads into Unnameable's stuff, I think. Any comments there?

blp
05-09-2006, 10:43 AM
I agree in general about a numbing effect, jackyyy - whether we're talking about pop-ups or huge billboards. My main objection to it is probably that - that it's visual and textual trash and we don't have a choice about whether we see a lot of it. I'm partly interested in the politics of this - the rhetoric of choice promoted and belied by advertising's very existence with its constant underlying message that we don't own the space around us, even collectively. I'm also interested in trying to identify what the effect of this is - especially given that some people claim it doesn't affect them - both as an economic spur and as art's evil twin.

jackyyyy
05-09-2006, 11:25 AM
I agree in general about a numbing effect, jackyyy - whether we're talking about pop-ups or huge billboards. My main objection to it is probably that - that it's visual and textual trash and we don't have a choice about whether we see a lot of it. I'm partly interested in the politics of this - the rhetoric of choice promoted and belied by advertising's very existence with its constant underlying message that we don't own the space around us, even collectively. I'm also interested in trying to identify what the effect of this is - especially given that some people claim it doesn't affect them - both as an economic spur and as art's evil twin.I think we have to look at the word 'advertising' to see how established it is in our lives, thinking, bodies, history, everything. Though advertising has taken a new shape over the last few hundred years, its still the same word. The Church was advertising heaven not so long back. To clear up on that point, I cannot see how anyone is removed from the effect and affect of advertising. While it may be a choice at times, its not all the time. I cannot walk down the road and expect the billboard to switch off for me. Your main objection is to 'lack of choice'?? Well, I don't know that we can or even want to protect 'our space' to that extent, except from what we can easily ID as adverse, for a whole bunch of reasons. Protecting children should be an easy decision, but often hard to implement. I take your point about the politics of it, the subtle assertions that its okay are usually coming from the same people flogging it. Censorship has a bad side, and I wonder if there is another way to formulate a collective decision on what is suitable or not.

You mentioned, 'Art's evil twin'. Now, I have to say, I do wonder if there would be as much art if the devil did not have a hand in it. :brow:

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 11:38 AM
I'm also interested in trying to identify what the effect of this is -
I remember seeing outstanding War Photographer James Nachtwey being interviewed. He said that he was finding it increasingly difficult to sell some of his more powerful images to reputable magazines because the likes of Rolex and Porsche don’t want to have their advertisements on the same page as a picture of some dead or starving child. He who pays the piper…
So one effect is that fewer and fewer people will see any reality other than the one provided for them in the interests of profits. Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.

If anyone is interested in looking at some astounding photographs of a side of human experience that advertisers would prefer you not to see, try Nachtwey's site:

http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

I wonder how the man in the Famines photograph feels about contributing his 33 cents to McDonald’s advertising budget.

And as for the Devil’s hand – does all the Art in existence make up for the man in that photograph?

blp
05-09-2006, 11:52 AM
I think we have to look at the word 'advertising' to see how established it is in our lives, thinking, bodies, history, everything. Though advertising has taken a new shape over the last few hundred years, its still the same word. The Church was advertising heaven not so long back. To clear up on that point, I cannot see how anyone is removed from the effect and affect of advertising. While it may be a choice at times, its not all the time. I cannot walk down the road and expect the billboard to switch off for me. Your main objection is to 'lack of choice'?? Well, I don't know that we can or even want to protect 'our space' to that extent, except from what we can easily ID as adverse, for a whole bunch of reasons. Protecting children should be an easy decision, but often hard to implement. I take your point about the politics of it, the subtle assertions that its okay are usually coming from the same people flogging it. Censorship has a bad side, and I wonder if there is another way to formulate a collective decision on what is suitable or not.

You mentioned, 'Art's evil twin'. Now, I have to say, I do wonder if there would be as much art if the devil did not have a hand in it. :brow:

A timely warning against the Manichean heresy. Still, I have to say, I find a lot less of the devil in Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte and Dostoyevsky than I do in billboard posters for the new 'predator' range of off-road vehicles - especially since they show the vehicles on the road.

As to what is 'suitable', we have a notoriously toothless body called the Advertising Standards Association here. They proved powerless against French Connection UK's 'fcuk' campaign and its no doubt detrimental effect on children's literacy. A lot of campaigns court bannings anyway - it gives them an aura of rebeliousness and a lot of free publicity, even creating the bizarre situation of people actually seeking out the ads on the internet, rather than having to be force-fed them.

I'd be more interested in restricting the amount of the stuff that's on view. Why is it OK to put up a big mobile phone ad on an estate in Peckham and not in Trafalgar Square. Because it's ugly really and I don't see why anyone has the right to subject us to that ugliness.

Your point about religious art is hardest to answer. I believe in neither Kellog's Frosties nor Christ as saviour, but I have a lot less trouble with a Piero Della Francesca Nativity than an ad for the former. It's not just that the painting is beautiful. An equally beautiful painting promoting breakfast cereal would be absurd where the Piero is idiosyncratic, kind, serious, thoughtful and compelling. Not quite sure how to explain this.

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 11:59 AM
I’ve just been looking at the Nachtwey photographs again. blp, you know as well as I do that it’s quite conceivable that some ad agency, inspired by Benetton, could quite easily use some of those photographs to sell us some other crap. And that’s not the worst of it – you also know that some here would say that it’s perfectly acceptable, as long as it’s done tastefully.

And yes, jackyyyy, I do expect the billboards to switch off when I approach. It’s just another form of pollution. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this form of pollution helps accelerate the type we see middle class kiddies complain about on their t-shirts.

jackyyyy
05-09-2006, 12:02 PM
Your point about religious art is hardest to answer. I believe in neither Kellog's Frosties nor Christ as saviour, but I have a lot less trouble with a Piero Della Francesca Nativity than an ad for the former. It's not just that the painting is beautiful. An equally beautiful painting promoting breakfast cereal would be absurd where the Piero is idiosyncratic, kind, serious, thoughtful and compelling. Not quite sure how to explain this.You explained it great, but to get to the meat, as I would ask anyone; who decides, enforces, decisions, tastefullness, good Art over bad Art, criteria. I'm not saying there is an answer... but seems in some cases (fewer by the day) decisions are being made somewhere, some good, most bad. I know its painful but when faced with how to do it, fix it, rare to get an idea.

blp
05-09-2006, 12:21 PM
I remember seeing outstanding War Photographer James Nachtwey being interviewed. He said that he was finding it increasingly difficult to sell some of his more powerful images to reputable magazines because the likes of Rolex and Porsche don’t want to have their advertisements on the same page as a picture of some dead or starving child. He who pays the piper…
So one effect is that fewer and fewer people will see any reality other than the one provided for them in the interests of profits. Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.

If anyone is interested in looking at some astounding photographs of a side of human experience that advertisers would prefer you not to see, try Nachtwey's site:

http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

I wonder how the man in the Famines photograph feels about contributing his 33 cents to McDonald’s advertising budget.

And as for the Devil’s hand – does all the Art in existence make up for the man in that photograph?

The one that got me was the Romanian orphanage for 'incurables'.

No, art doesn't make up for any of this and I think the best art knows it has those limitations. What art can do - one of the things - is sober us up. And what's revolting about advertising is that it doesn't want us to be sober but moronically intoxicated. To that end - and as your post already indicates, Unnamable - a large proportion of the mainstream media becomes an extension of the advertising it supposedly merely 'carries'.

Oddly, for all I said about advertising's prohibitions against negativity, it does occasionally stray into Nachtwey's territory, notably with the Benetton ads of the 'eighties - photos of AIDS victims, the aftermath of a Mafia shooting etc, all in the service of selling pastel coloured jumpers. Bizarrely, the Italian photographer behind those ads believed he was using advertising to spread 'awareness' of the issues he depicted, rather than making millions out of sensationalising misery. Nachtwey, like any artist, might be in mildly tricky territory - at worst, he could end up as a frisson among many thrills and stimuli on the shelf of some well off Stoke Newington marketting executive or similar - but that's a long way from the near inevitability of advertising's reverse Midas ability to turn practically everything really good it touches to crap.

blp
05-09-2006, 12:22 PM
you know as well as I do that it’s quite conceivable that some ad agency, inspired by Benetton, could quite easily use some of those photographs to sell us some other crap.

Ah. Snap. :p

blp
05-09-2006, 12:34 PM
You explained it great, but to get to the meat, as I would ask anyone; who decides, enforces, decisions, tastefullness, good Art over bad Art, criteria. I'm not saying there is an answer... but seems in some cases (fewer by the day) decisions are being made somewhere, some good, most bad. I know its painful but when faced with how to do it, fix it, rare to get an idea.

I'm not saying there's an answer either. In fact, I rather doubt there is one. This is, to a large extent, a question about public versus private ownership of the spaces we all inhabit.

Interestingly, I've heard tell of two well off Western businessmen complaining about the dearth of advertising in Eastern bloc countries before the fall of communism, saying it created a drab visual environment. One, Mark Wnek, is a successful London ad man, formerly from the Eastern bloc. The obvious retort is, make the visual environment less drab some other way, because if you rely on private companies to do it, they're going to do a self serving bodge job (like they do when building hospitals or maintaining railways).

jackyyyy
05-09-2006, 12:51 PM
Well, they outlaw smoking in many places now, and progressively that should solve smoking. I guess, they could outlaw billboards progressively too, until there are no more.

My head thinks the solution is in homogenization. Maybe in a homogenized World, all decisions will be voted on, including what we eat, what we wear, what we do. And, if we don't like the vote, we can go "Mend a Wall". Fascinating stuff eh.. Soylent Green.

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 09:00 PM
Apparently, Coca-Cola is celebrating its 120th birthday.

“Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.”

It's alright, Ma, I'm only bleeding.

The Unnamable
05-09-2006, 09:04 PM
The one that got me was the Romanian orphanage for 'incurables'.
Yes, it’s like the famous Munch painting (now available on coasters).

blp
05-10-2006, 06:01 AM
Yes, it’s like the famous Munch painting (now available on coasters).

Yup. Still, that painting, and expressionism in general, have always seemed to me to have a certain bathos.

This conversation sort of seems to be petering out - especially since it's not attracted any lovers of advertising to stir it up - but at the same time, is getting at one of the key points of interest for me about advertising: the challenge it sets art. What can you do that can't be incorporated? Atrocity exhibitions, from Nachtwey to Ballard to Benetton to the Chapman brothers are, finally, easily consumable and highly commercial - The Chapman's, exploiting a very simple sex, violence and monstrosity formula, have expressed mystification that their less successful contemporaries couldn't work out what was required to make it in contemporary art - concurrently designing two labels for limited edition bottles of Becks beer. A dramatic adaptation of Houellebecqu's Platform will be staged at this year's Edinburgh festival. 'Of course it's going to make a lot of money', said one insider - and most likely, one or two corporate sponsors will be taking programme credits. Brett Easton Ellis in his latest novel refers smirkingly to his better behaved, less successful contemporaries.

This isn't just a political issue for me and I'm not so idealistic about it that I think it can be entirely escaped. As the title of this thread indicates, a big part of my interest in this is aesthetic and, to the extent that it's political, it's to do with the politics of art. In asking what advertising does to us, we also have to ask what art does to us and what we want it to do to us - and whether we need to be protected from what we want, or protect ourselves. I said before that negativity was the distinguishing feature separating artistic creativity from advertising and I might seem to have contradicted that, but I'm not just talking about the negativity of horror - which can all too easily be critiqued for fitting too neatly into Debord's Society of the Spectacle or on the terms of Adorno's Culture Industry for simply not allowing the viewer enough space. In a sense, perhaps, this emotional negative becomes a physical positive. There's too much there, too much space occupied, not enough room. It can also be seen as a bubbling up of the id - or, at worst, an idea of that bubbling up, presented as if it were the actual experience. Again, on Adorno's terms, an experience of disappointment, something we're told we should have an emotional response to that we may blame ourselves for missing the point of. Advertising loves the id. It's not just that, as Naomi Klein would have it, it co-opts expressions of rebeliousness. Rebelious individualism, an impression of dangerous sexiness, mad humour - all these are intrinsic to its myth and to its ability to function at all, part of the same will to intoxication I talked about before. There's an enslavement in this freedom that is paradoxical, but that's the paradox of the id, not advertising. Advertising just uses it - and in a way that is so much a part of the climate most of us inhabit that I think its effect, emotionally and intellectually, runs quite deep.

Without wanting to, again, stray into Manichaeanism, it's interesting that intelligent denizens of authoritarian regimes so often scoff at Western freedoms. Soviet propaganda art, in contrast to advertising, is much more the expression of the superego: ideals of mankind so high as to be impossible (and expressed in a way that's absolutely devoid of artistic merit). At the same time, the Soviet Union also produced Tarkovsky - and admittedly kicked him out eventually - just as Poland produced Kieslowski and Iran produced Kiarostami and the Makmalbafs, to name a few - all directors capable of far greater seriousness than most in the west. These people may have been denied Big Macs and L'Oreal's message that they were 'worth it', but they seem to have had no trouble at all getting hold of books by Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Hegel et. al.

jackyyyy
05-10-2006, 07:24 AM
Without wanting to, again, stray into Manichaeanism, it's interesting that intelligent denizens of authoritarian regimes so often scoff at Western freedoms. Soviet propaganda art, in contrast to advertising, is much more the expression of the superego: ideals of mankind so high as to be impossible (and expressed in a way that's absolutely devoid of artistic merit). At the same time, the Soviet Union also produced Tarkovsky - and admittedly kicked him out eventually - just as Poland produced Kieslowski and Iran produced Kiarostami and the Makmalbafs, to name a few - all directors capable of far greater seriousness than most in the west. These people may have been denied Big Macs and L'Oreal's message that they were 'worth it', but they seem to have had no trouble at all getting hold of books by Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Hegel et. al.I don't have time to comment on everything you wrote there, Blp, but I will say its interesting that people win/lose either way. Sure, I know a lot more Russians that can quote Philosophy at me than I do Brits, while Brits can quote a lot more MacD at them. Which, btw, is why I was talking about homogenization earlier. Seems to me, at the point where we can see a level playing field with regard to ideologies, as well as uniform access to all the issues, constraints, political and otherwise, is the point where we can address it. Can't have half the planet shouting Nietzsche and the other half shouting Macd. Excuse the crude joke, but education is substancially different between contending points of view. And again, which would explain why Virgil sees less issue or might be considered more tolerant of advertising on the whole than Unnamable. (excuses to both for mentioning them, I don't think they mind)

The Unnamable
05-10-2006, 07:47 AM
My head thinks the solution is in homogenization. Maybe in a homogenized World, all decisions will be voted on, including what we eat, what we wear, what we do. And, if we don't like the vote, we can go "Mend a Wall". Fascinating stuff eh.. Soylent Green.
Are you being jackyyyy here or Dennis?

jackyyyy
05-10-2006, 07:53 AM
hehe. I was being Dennis, you noticed! I thew out the question, what is the answer and who decides? Already, as Blp has pointed out, it kind of peters out, and I think thats because while the failings of advertising are abundantly clear, no one has an answer to it, even radical. I am not proposing a radical answer either, but a radical answer could be just that, 'a' Soylent Green.

jackyyyy
05-10-2006, 08:54 AM
Apparently, Coca-Cola is celebrating its 120th birthday.

“Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.”

It's alright, Ma, I'm only bleeding.Warhol began as a commercial illustrator in New York, doing artwork for ads and magazines in the 1940s and 1950s. Eventually he crossed from commercial work to art, blurring the line between the two along the way. In the early 1960s his huge and colorful silk-screen renderings of banal objects like Coke bottles and a Campbell's Soup can were hugely popular and established him as the leader of the so-called Pop Art movement.


The Andy Warhol Homepage has been closed!

Today, I received a letter from a lawfirm representing The Andy Warhol Foundation, which informed me that The Andy Warhol Homepage was infringing on US copyright laws and that in order to not get sued I was to close the website down.

I was looking for something to cross-reference and Andy seems like a good idea. Seems, however, his advertising became too valuable.

blp
05-10-2006, 10:23 AM
I don't have time to comment on everything you wrote there, Blp, but I will say its interesting that people win/lose either way. Sure, I know a lot more Russians that can quote Philosophy at me than I do Brits, while Brits can quote a lot more MacD at them. Which, btw, is why I was talking about homogenization earlier. Seems to me, at the point where we can see a level playing field with regard to ideologies, as well as uniform access to all the issues, constraints, political and otherwise, is the point where we can address it. Can't have half the planet shouting Nietzsche and the other half shouting Macd. Excuse the crude joke, but education is substancially different between contending points of view. And again, which would explain why Virgil sees less issue or might be considered more tolerant of advertising on the whole than Unnamable. (excuses to both for mentioning them, I don't think they mind)

Ha. If even half the planet was shouting Neitzsche, it might be an improvement!

Warhol's an interesting case in point. In his moment, that work must have been absolutely shocking. It's an example of one of art's better strategies for dealing with the banality of dominant culture: détournement, the turning of a form's tropes back on itself as critique, rather than saying directly, this is bad. The years have softened the effect of course. But I'm still interested in Warhol because of his films, which, despite being full of pretty people, are almost completely unco-optable by capitalism because they're so damn frustrating to watch. Warhol would have said (approvingly) 'boring', but that doesn't quite cover the profound existential epiphanies I've experienced watching the best of them - Harlot and Kitchen in particular, though Chelsea Girls is also superb and Lonesome Cowboys has a lot to recommend it and even the later features that were actually made by Paul Morrissey and are much more linear and comedic are pretty extraordinary, Trash especially, but also Flesh. They're like extremely taxing zen meditations and the key to them may partly be in the way they give the lie to capitalism's fixation on id sexy freedom - pretty people with nothing to do end up being largely a burden to themselves.

jackyyyy
05-10-2006, 10:34 AM
Ha. If even the planet was shouting Neitzsche, it might be an improvement!

Warhol's an interesting case in point. In his moment, that work must have been absolutely shocking. It's an example of one of art's better strategies for dealing with the banality of dominant culture: détournement, the turning of a form's tropes back on itself as critique, rather than saying directly, this is bad. The years have softened the effect of course. But I'm still interested in Warhol because of his films, which, despite being full of pretty people, are almost completely unco-optable by capitalism because they're so damn frustrating to watch. Warhol would have said (approvingly) 'boring', but that doesn't quite cover the profound existential epiphanies I've experienced watching the best of them - Harlot and Kitchen in particular, though Chelsea Girls is also superb and Lonesome Cowboys has a lot to recommend it and even the later features that were actually made by Paul Morrissey and are much more linear and comedic are pretty extraordinary, Trash especially, but also Flesh. They're like extremely taxing zen meditations and the key to them may partly be in the way they give the lie to capitalism's fixation on id sexy freedom - pretty people with nothing to do end up being largely a burden to themselves.hehe, you did sum it up perfectly.. and caught that interesting phrase 'id sexy freedom' to boot. Which, incidently, takes me back to Adam and Eve; I am sure she was shakin' her booty as he bought on the apple, and Andy was advertising himSELF.

blp
05-10-2006, 06:26 PM
hehe, you did sum it up perfectly.. and caught that interesting phrase 'id sexy freedom' to boot. Which, incidently, takes me back to Adam and Eve; I am sure she was shakin' her booty as he bought on the apple, and Andy was advertising himSELF.

Yes, well they do say sex sells, don't they? But don't forget the real ad man in the garden, the one curling round the tree and urging in a no doubt deep and rugged voice, just do it.

jackyyyy
05-11-2006, 04:00 AM
Yes, well they do say sex sells, don't they? But don't forget the real ad man in the garden, the one curling round the tree and urging in a no doubt deep and rugged voice, just do it.They hope it sells, considering the 'such thing as Women's language'' thread. Its easy to say sex is the root of everything, including ol' Curly. More fundamentally though, sex means 'survival'.

blp
05-11-2006, 06:05 AM
They hope it sells, considering the 'such thing as Women's language'' thread. Its easy to say sex is the root of everything, including ol' Curly. More fundamentally though, sex means 'survival'.

It does, indeed, and it's funny how uncognizant of the practical aspect of sex advertising seems to want to keep us. The women seen snogging over Haagen Dasz or a glass of something with a French name are never seen six months later with gravidly swollen bellies.

The Unnamable
05-11-2006, 06:45 AM
The women seen snogging over Haagen Dasz or a glass of something with a French name are never seen six months later with gravidly swollen bellies.
And that’s thanks to “Billy Boy” – Das aufregend andere Condom.

I promise you, they exist.

The Unnamable
05-11-2006, 10:37 AM
I forgot this one, blp:

Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.

Geoffrey
05-11-2006, 07:59 PM
I always feel terrible for the alcoholic who is subjected to innumerable 'Budweiser,' 'Coors,' ext advertisements everyday. As if the urge weren't great enough alone, it is apparently necessary to disguise such beverages as harmless and refreshing. yikes.

The negative effects of advertising, I would argue, are only felt by those people who are un-aware that there mite be any negative effects of advertising at all. Most of these people won't be driven to go out of there way to find reputable, honest information about the products they are being spoon fed - rather they will hear the aeroplane and open up the hanger...

blp
05-11-2006, 10:51 PM
I forgot this one, blp:

Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.

A nice quote from a movie that, nevertheless, never seems quite free of the values it purports to critique.

I've always remembered this one from the beginning of New Grub St., though I don't have a copy anymore so will have to extemporise:

'But is an advertising man a gentleman?'
'Well he is certainly very rich and has a magnificent house in Chiswick.'


The negative effects of advertising, I would argue, are only felt by those people who are un-aware that there mite be any negative effects of advertising at all. Most of these people won't be driven to go out of there way to find reputable, honest information about the products they are being spoon fed - rather they will hear the aeroplane and open up the hanger...

Have you ever read Vance Packard's study of advertising from the early sixties, The Hidden Persuaders? A lot of it's about how advertising cottoned on to Freud and modern psychology and started using what it found there to sell bras, kitchens, soap, booze etc. Of course advertising's changed since then (and, having seen the inside of a few agencies, I can report that no one appears to be talking about shortcuts to the unconscious as sales tools), but after reading Packard, the changes seem superficial. Sex, death, neurosis and insecurity are still at the heart of a lot of it (germs are everywhere in your home). You're made of stronger stuff than me, if you're entirely impervious to it. I'm not just talking about whether it convinces us to buy stuff, I'm talking about how it makes us feel whether we buy the stuff or not. E.g. insulted.

blp
05-11-2006, 10:59 PM
And that’s thanks to “Billy Boy” – Das aufregend andere Condom.

I promise you, they exist.

:D

A woman I know in an Italian agency wrote and shot a condom ad that showed a man enthralled by totally ordinary things, then paid off: once you try our normale condoms, you'll find other normale things equally exciting. I saw her a few months later and asked what had happened next. 'The client say no', she said, 'they say is too intellectuale.'

The Unnamable
05-12-2006, 06:17 AM
I'm not just talking about whether it convinces us to buy stuff, I'm talking about how it makes us feel whether we buy the stuff or not. E.g. insulted.
I think that’s a key point that has been missed by some. The significance of advertising shouldn’t be considered purely on the basis of whether or not it makes us buy a particular product. As you said earlier, it alters our physical environment and, as I said with regard to Nachtwey, it’s partly responsible for limiting what we see of the world.

blp
05-12-2006, 07:44 AM
I think that’s a key point that has been missed by some. The significance of advertising shouldn’t be considered purely on the basis of whether or not it makes us buy a particular product. As you said earlier, it alters our physical environment and, as I said with regard to Nachtwey, it’s partly responsible for limiting what we see of the world.

Exactly. Limiting it to garbage - and as a useful adage has it, 'garbage in, garbage out'.

ShoutGrace
05-12-2006, 07:50 AM
Does this have to do with the idea that sometimes we cannot choose whether we view advertising in action or not? How is it more or less responsible for limiting our world perception than anything else? I'm just limited, can you two help me?

p.s. Can you believe that they have started putting ads on the lines dividing parking spaces?

blp
05-12-2006, 08:29 AM
Does this have to do with the idea that sometimes we cannot choose whether we view advertising in action or not? How is it more or less responsible for limiting our world perception than anything else? I'm just limited, can you two help me?

p.s. Can you believe that they have started putting ads on the lines dividing parking spaces?


Your P.S. goes some way to answering your own question I think. Advertising wants to fill as much public space as possible. Whether it really limits our world perception more than anything else, it's trying to and I can't think of anything else that's really trying to communicate with us in the same way at all. But as Unnamable's post on Nachtwey shows, advertisers, often as main funding sources for the media that carry it, often exert considerable control over freedom of expression in other areas. The term 'soap opera', derived from the fact that the original soaps were funded by soap companies, is the closest thing to an honest acknowledgement of the fact that much of what we see, what we get to see, is proscribed by advertisers.

One might expect a public body like the UK's BBC to be a bulwark against this, free as it apparently is from advertising. A great deal of the ad industry is furious about this very freedom - rampant 'free' marketeers that they are (to borrow a bon mot of Withnail's 'Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those who can't), public service is anathema to them anyway and they'll defend their position on the grounds that the market - thousands of digital and cable channels offering a cornuccopia of crap - offers the consumer real choice. But the BBC appears to have both eyes on the market itself and is never happier than when making programmes it can sell around the world - and since those programmes will most likely be aired on commercial channels abroad, the BBC is probably, in reality, no more free of the need for self-censorship to please advertisers than anyone else. If anyone's in any doubt about this, go back and watch the great BBC dramas of yesteryear, before the global marketplace was a concern: Alan Clarke's Scum, Made in Britain and Elephant, Mike Leigh's early TV work, playwright Dennis Potter's work - all these dealt, without glamorisation, but with real poetry, with awkward, but terribly recognisable characters and difficult social realities (borstal life, racism and Northern Ireland, respectively, in the case of the great Clarke films listed above). Potter is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV dramatists of all time, but, as someone remarked recently, if he showed up at the BBC today with his ideas, he wouldn't make it past the lobby.

The Unnamable
05-12-2006, 01:04 PM
Does this have to do with the idea that sometimes we cannot choose whether we view advertising in action or not? How is it more or less responsible for limiting our world perception than anything else? I'm just limited, can you two help me?
Billboards, jingles, slogans, t-shirts, pop-ups, ….but blp’s answer is spot on.


p.s. Can you believe that they have started putting ads on the lines dividing parking spaces?
Don’t worry, we’ll have them on coffins soon - “This interment is brought to you by Sidoli’s Ice Cream Puffs.” The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

As the title of the thread is about ethics and aesthetics, perhaps this poem by Larkin might be interesting:

Essential Beauty

In frames as large as rooms that face all ways
And block the ends of streets with giant loaves,
Screen graves with custard, cover slums with praise
Of motor-oil and cuts of salmon, shine
Perpetually these sharply-pictured groves
Of how life should be. High above the gutter
A silver knife sinks into golden butter,
A glass of milk stands in a meadow, and
Well-balanced families, in fine
Midsummer weather, owe their smiles, their cars,
Even their youth, to that small cube each hand
Stretches towards. These, and the deep armchairs
Aligned to cups at bedtime, radiant bars
(Gas or electric), quarter-profile cats
By slippers on warm mats,
Reflect none of the rained-on streets and squares

They dominate outdoors. Rather, they rise
Serenely to proclaim pure crust, pure foam,
Pure coldness to our live imperfect eyes
That stare beyond this world, where nothing's made
As new or washed quite clean, seeking the home
All such inhabit. There, dark raftered pubs
Are filled with white-clothed ones from tennis-clubs,
And the boy puking his heart out in the Gents
Just missed them, as the pensioner paid
A halfpenny more for Granny Graveclothes' Tea
To taste old age, and dying smokers sense
Walking towards them through some dappled park
As if on water that unfocused she
No match lit up, nor drag ever brought near,
Who now stands newly clear,
Smiling, and recognising, and going dark.
Philip Larkin

There’s another Larkin poem that deals with advertising:

Sunny Prestatyn

Come to Sunny Prestatyn
Laughed the girl on the poster,
Kneeling up on the sand
In tautened white satin.
Behind her, a hunk of coast, a
Hotel with palms
Seemed to expand from her thighs and
Spread breast-lifting arms.

She was slapped up one day in March.
A couple of weeks, and her face
Was snaggle-toothed and boss-eyed;
Huge tits and a fissured crotch
Were scored well in, and the space
Between her legs held scrawls
That set her fairly astride
A tuberous **** and balls

Autographed Titch Thomas, while
Someone had used a knife
Or something to stab right through
The moustached lips of her smile.
She was too good for this life.
Very soon, a great transverse tear
Left only a hand and some blue.
Now Fight Cancer is there.
Philip Larkin


But the BBC appears to have both eyes on the market itself and is never happier than when it's making programmes it can sell around the world.
As I said elsewhere, Dickens’s anti-Americanism in Martin Chuzzlewit was glossed over in the TV production to make the series more likely to sell in the US. This is another example of the way commercial interests are defining what world we are allowed to see as reality.