It’s been real….art on!

I’ve loved art since I can remember.  I come from an artistic family, and my mom always had beautiful artwork in our home as I was growing up.  Art is, by far, one of my favorite things in life – both the creative process of art and observing art around me.  My first major in college was art, so I got to take quite a few art classes.  I went to a performing arts high school where I took pottery, photography, drama, and dance, (ballet was my forte.)  I was a dance teacher for a while, but eventually decided that visual arts were more “my thing.”  My mom and two brothers are musicians.  Both of my brothers have produced albums in fact.  I sang in the choir all through school and I played the flute at one point, but music never really “stuck” for me.  The art mediums I have dabbled in are:  Oil painting, pottery, drawing, figure drawing, digital media, book making, photography, mosaics, knitting, crochet, embroidery, clothing design, (I had my own kids’ clothing line for a while), and quilting.  The art that I have developed and settled on in recent years is mosaic art, or more specifically “Picasiette” mosaic, which means “broken dishes” in French.  I use recycled glass products and pottery to create wall hangings, mirrors, and other artsy items.  My process involves using tile cutters to cut through the glass and pottery, and then I glue the glass shards onto a metal or wood base, then put grout between the glass pieces and seal the final product.

I love the process of creating mosaic art work –  I like seeing how broken and discarded items can be recycled to create a beautiful piece of art.  I use all recycled glass and pottery to create my mosaic pieces, and any found items used in my pieces are also recycled.  Most of my mosaics depict nature scenes or animals, mainly because these are some of my favorite things.  I also like to create whimsical pieces, such as the “coffee cup” mosaic below.  I hope that when people see my art they will enjoy it and think about how the lost, broken, and unwanted things in life, with care, can be made beautiful and re-born again.  My art is a metaphor for life in some ways.  There is always a choice, and endless possibilities are just waiting to be explored.  I Hope you enjoyed my art, and thanks for following my journey through mass media and the popular arts!  Adios!  ~April

sunflower

leaves

dove

hearthand                          butterflies

coffee cup

celtic bird

cat

frogpond

bird bath

sunset

Video Games: Why They Suck

Welcome back.  We’re now wrapping up our cultural media journey, and this will be my last critiquing post on mass media and pop culture.  It’s been a great ride, and I hope you have enjoyed my blog.

video

As part of our assignment this week we were instructed to play a video game.  Firstly, let me say that I have genuinely tried to play video games in the past.  I have really, really tried.  I see people all around me playing them:  My kids, husband, friends, you name it.  I have people sending me game requests on Facebook constantly.  I never accept them and they have finally given up – yay!  I just can’t go there, I just can’t.  For one, I don’t have the time.  Secondly, video games bore me.  Thirdly, they are stupid.  So I went ahead and played Plants vs. Zombies.  As expected it was, well, totally boring.  It stressed me out because the zombies just. kept. coming.  Ugh.  Then I started talking yelling out loud, “No, stop!”  “OMG, stop eating my sunflowers!”  Yeah, it went like that.  Luckily my family wasn’t around for the show.  Truthfully I didn’t like any part of the game.  Because I don’t play games my coordination sucked, and my speed was awful.  The zombies won almost every time. After I was done playing I thought, “Well, that was a total waste of an hour of my time when I could have been doing something constructive.”  Just being honest!

So why do people play video games?  Some people actually find them fun and entertaining.  They are also a way to “zone out” and relax, or so I hear.  I think some people really get into the challenge of the game.  They also like to try to beat their highest score, so its a way to compete with themselves.  Video gaming can also be a way to connect socially with others.  Games like Game of Thrones  or even Minecraft can be played on line with multiple players.

angry

Violent video games are another topic of conversation in the video game world.  There has been much debate about whether playing them increases violence in the players.  In the article “Violent Video Games, Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions”, by Craig Anderson the point is made that violent video games increase physiological arousal.  I think people probably get an adrenalin high from playing these types of games.  This could easily become addictive, as the body craves that response along with the “rush” that happens when your adrenalin levels rise.  Violent video games have been studied through research for around 40 years according to Anderson.  Going into social work I was very interested in reading what these studies have shown.  There is so much violence and behavioral problems with youth these days, and there has been speculation that both TV and video games are partly to blame.  According to Anderson, “Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased prosocial (helping) behavior.”  There you have it:  violent video games aren’t great.  If that wasn’t enough he also notes that, “High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior.”  So how do the video games impact behavior?  Anderson says, “Immediately after exposure to media violence, there is an increase in aggressive behavior tendencies because of several factors. 1. Aggressive thoughts increase, which in turn increase the likelihood that a mild or ambiguous provocation will be interpreted in a hostile fashion. 2. Aggressive affect increases. 3. General arousal (e.g., heart rate) increases, which tends to increase the dominant behavioral tendency. 4. Direct imitation of recently observed aggressive behaviors sometimes occurs.”

call

There are actually some productive uses for video games.  In the article “Death From Above” by Christopher Beam the point is raised that video games can actually be used in the military in a useful way.  The game Army 360 shows the player cultural situations, the game Virtual Iraq helps veterans cope with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and UrbanSim helps the troops learn how to navigate counterinsurgency.  Any form of media can be used in a positive way.  Unfortunately I think video games are often not useful in society.  They cause people to sit for long periods of time and this inactivity can lead to obesity and health problems.  People can also become addicted to them and become anti-social.  I honestly think the less people play video games the better.  There are far more useful ways to spend your time and energy in life.

Reality Movies: Bon Apetit!

I’m a huge fan of reality movies…and food.  Whether it’s a documentary that makes us look outward into society or one that causes us to reflect upon ourselves, this form of media can be a very powerful means of communication.  As A.O. Scott who is quoted in Diedre’s essay “Reality Movies”, says, “It might make sense to as what (or whom) a given documentary is for.”  Reality movies generally have a target audience, and I think most are intended to bring awareness to an issue or create change, though as mentioned earlier, some help us to look inward as well.  Reality movies like Super Size Me are prime examples of this.  In this reality movie Morgan Spurlock is filmed eating nothing but McDonald’s food for a month.  He covers 20 cities, gains 25 pounds, increases his blood pressure, and damages his liver.  The film could be re-titled. “How to Dig an Early Grave.”

SUPERSIZE_ME2

This documentary exposes McDonald’s and the fast food industry for what it really is, so much so that the mega fast food chain actually removes the words “super size” from its vernacular, though they denied Spurlock’s movie had anything to do with the change.  I go to McDonald’s once in a while, (true confessions), and the last time I was there I noticed that when I ordered something I was asked immediately by the worker, “Do you want that large?”  Semantics people.  Even though they have quit using their taboo phrase McDonald’s is still up-sizing their customer’s orders and pounds.  (By the way, I said no in case you’re wondering.)  Spurlock manages to accomplish helping us take a closer look at McDonald’s, but in the meantime we also take a look at ourselves and our dietary habits.  We realize we’ve been duped by the fast food industry into an early grave potentially.  We realize we’ve been fed a lie, literally.  Super Size Me sends a powerful message that helps us to look outward and inward, while opening our eyes to advertising and the American food industry.

One of the most remarkable reality movies I’ve ever seen is called The Dark Side of Chocolate.  As the title implies, this documentary is about the dark side of the chocolate industry.  The film was shot under cover by a British journalist who decided to look into the fair trade chocolate company’s cocoa farming practices.  The journalist discovered rampant child trafficking and child labor among the cocoa plantations in certain areas of Africa.  The documentary focuses on Nestle chocolate, but many other brands are also part of the story.  The film also exposes the fact that “fair trade” chocolate companies were even found to have similar practices going on in their cocoa plantations.  After watching this reality movie I never looked at most chocolate the same…and I love chocolate, like a lot.  My purchasing habits have changed dramatically after I watched the film.  For one, I buy less chocolate, mainly because there isn’t as much fair trade chocolate out there.  Secondly, when I buy it I am aware of where it comes from, who might be harvesting the cocoa beans, and what unjust practices could be going on behind the scenes, so I try to buy fair trade chocolate as much as possible.  I feel that this documentary is incredibly productive because it exposes a hidden truth – an injustice.  Learning about this injustice also caused me to reflect on how I interact with the chocolate industry.  Do me a favor, watch the film, you will never look at your M&M’s and Snickers the same again.

“The value of Super Size Me is not what happens during the movie, but what happens afterwards,” writes reviewer C.A. Wolski. “In the great documentary tradition, the movie is really a jumping off point for audience members to discuss notions of diet, personal responsibility and ‘corporate responsibility” says Diedre in her essay “Realty Movies.”  As Diedre points out, a good documentary is a jumping off point for audience members.  This defines the movie’s ability to be productive.  Though there is an entertainment factor to most reality movies, the test of its worth comes in the “after.”  How much social impact was made?  Were people moved to action?  What changed?  Even though some documentaries may seem boring and don’t always have the best entertainment factor, that’s not the point.  The film needs to deliver in the honesty department as well.  As Diedre mentions in her essay, “…we deeply respect honesty in documentary movies.”  I think people expect a documentary to be honest, because we view documentaries as just that – films that expose a truth or injustice.  In the process we learn something new about the world as well as ourselves, and this new knowledge will enable us see the world through a different lens and encourage us to be better people.

Until next time!

Parody News

Welcome back fellow bloggites.  This week we cover the exciting and entertaining world of parody news.  When I hear the phrase “parody news” the first thing that comes to mind is SNL’s Weekend Update, and of course Stephen Colbert.  I’ve always found the way humor and sarcasm are used in this style of news casting to be way more interesting than normal news both in content and delivery.  Here’s a recent episode of Weekend Update:

Soto’s article “The Fake News as the Fifth Estate” basically describes parody news as news that helps us to reflect on how it is being covered.  She says, “By encouraging this reflection, fake news provides a philosophical inoculation against the mindless onslaught of sound bites and pandering infotainment:  we become critical consumers, if not more responsible citizens.”  Parody news essentially covers the news media covering the news.  It shows how media puts a spin on the news, in a comical way, that both entertains and informs.  As we watch it we become aware of how ridiculous some of the news stories really are, as well as how that news is delivered to us.  As Soto says, “Instead of just watching news we, we’re invited to reflect on how its being covered.”

Colbert’s farmworker stunt and testimony  to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, & International Law subcommittee meeting on immigrant farm labor is a great example of the fake news as the fifth estate.  Colbert describes his experience picking beans on a migrant farm in a hilarious but real way.  He drives his point home by using sarcasm, like when he asks why white people wouldn’t want to pick beans in 105 degree heat.  He does get more serious later on when Judy Chu questions him.  His advocacy for the migrant farmers and their plight is real, and as he points out, they are people with the least amount of power in our country.  So it is both hypocritical and wrong for our country to ask them to leave but then use them for cheap agricultural labor.  I think Colbert was absolutely brilliant in his testimony for the migrant farmers.

Colbert

Parody news is a great example of media that is culturally relevant and meaningful.  Humor helps us to receive information in a non-threatening way with our defenses down.  This helps us to see a more realistic depiction of the media’s agenda, plus it’s funny, so what more could you want?  I think parody news gives us a unique perspective of our world and the way the media delivers news to us.  Some might think it’s ridiculous and goes too far, but I disagree.  Sometimes you have to exaggerate a point to drive it home, and parody news definitely accomplishes this.

Reality TV

I’ve watched Honey Boo Boo before, and watching it this time didn’t change my view of it:  It’s a train wreck of a reality show which is an oxymoron!  Reality TV shows started out benign and even interesting with shows like Survivor:

survivor

But since then it’s been a race to the bottom, to see how low our humanity could sink, and I don’t even think we’ve hit rock bottom yet.  Like the episode of South Park “Raising the Bar” so accurately portrayed reality TV, the bar is being lowered by the minute.

Then there are shows like the Bachelor that seem to undo any of the work feminism accomplished for women by showing desperate single women clamoring after and fighting one another over a single guy:

bachelor

Other reality TV shows like “Bridezilla”, “Housewives of LA, New York”, etc., Kim Kardashian and and “Toddlers and Tiaras” seem to feed our desire to see people at their very worst.

What does this say about our culture?  The South Park episode speaks to the issue of Americans lowering the bar with their expectations about health, obesity and lifestyle.  When a kid is riding a motorized chair we know there’s a problem.  But this episode also speaks to the overall lowering of the bar in relation to reality TV and culture as well.  When we are entertained as a culture by sitting by and watching the train wreck of people’s disappointments, dreams destroyed, pain, anguish, and other tragic circumstances this says a lot about where we are as Americans and human beings.  There is a sort of morbid fascination with shows like Honey Boo Boo, (which by the way was canceled this week due to family drama Jerry Springer style, go figure.)  The entire time you’re watching the show you’re wondering how much worse it can get….and it can and does get much worse of course.  In the case of Honey Boo Boo it seems wrong to put this kid on display for her mom’s financial gain.  It seems unethical, and I’m surprised there aren’t tighter restrictions on these kind of reality TV shows.

But there are things we can learn from reality TV – there is a “silver lining.”  We are able to see people in honest moments, uncut, unscripted.  We can see ourselves and realize we’re not the only ones who fail and lose out in relationships, in love, and in life.  There is some small amount of comfort in watching other humans interact with one another and reveal their humanity.  I think that is honestly why we are so drawn to reality TV, as disturbing as it is at times.  Reality TV can also make us feel better about our lives.  When a parent watches Honey Boo Boo they suddenly feel that they are a good parent.  A married woman watches the Bachelor and thinks, “Oh my God, I’m so glad I don’t have to date anymore!”  As much as we might envy someone on a reality TV show we also feel better by watching it because ultimately reality TV is about us as much us as it is about the people we’re watching.

Super Franchise Me a la Simpsons

Welcome back!  This week we’re analyzing cartoons.  I chose to watch the latest Simpson episode that came out last week titled “Super Franchise Me.”  I used to watch the Simpsons a lot when I had a life.  I really don’t have time to watch TV anymore except for on weekends, and I usually watch a movie if I’m going to watch anything.  But back to cartoons.  What can be learned or observed about contemporary culture from this episode of the Simpsons?  Quite a lot I think!  This episode was about the “American Dream”, which as we’ve realized in the past few years is just that, a dream.  Marge gets the bright idea to start up her own sandwich shop.  At first it seems like the perfect little family business, even turning over a profit after a few disappointing days.  All is well until a chain sandwich shop moves directly across the street.  The dream is crashed, and the Simpsons think up a scheme to injure Homer so they can get a settlement, get rid of the business, and live the good life.  There are a lot of life lessons that can be learned through the episode honestly.  It’s a commentary on our society, and the reality that the American Dream doesn’t exist anymore.  Even so, people feel entitled to it.  Bart and Lisa show up one day at the shop and Marge asks them to work.  Bart makes a comment that she’s supposed to be taking him to a swimming lesson that he had faked his way out of due to being sick just the other week.  This entitlement mentality is very pervasive in society.  People feel that the world owes them, society owes them, and often people refuse to do what it takes to earn the wages they feel they deserve.  We also live in a very law suit happy culture.  If people can’t make money honestly there’s always the law suit option!  The episode also touches on people’s fear and uncertainty of the future.  At the beginning the Simpsons are stocking up on food as if the end of the world was coming.  I think this is a real reality for many people who went through economic difficulty in the past few years.  From the mistrust of government to lack of employment and retirement funds people are very insecure and nervous.

Our second question was “Have you learned anything from cartoons (factual knowledge or increased awareness?”  Honestly, I can’t think of any examples of this other than the Simpsons.  I’m not really a South Park or Adventure Time fan.  I think I do consider then to be mental cotton candy.  I like watching shows that are realistic in nature, and something as abstract as a cartoon doesn’t really do anything for me.  I do like the Simpsons though because there are several layers of meaning and no matter what it is a funny show so if you feel like zoning out and not thinking too deeply about the underlying meaning you can laugh at Homer.

Here is the “Super Franchise Me” episode:  

 Enjoy!

We would like to take this commercial break to announce….

Hi medical social worker mama blog readers.  Just in case you wonder where I went…it’s mid term time, so our wonderful professor is giving us a break this week.  Yes!  But never fear, I will be back this Friday with another inspiring blog post!  All I have to do between now and then is to survive two research papers, a mid term, a final, and keep up with my other online class….all while continuing to stay “sane” in the midst of my super crazy job at the surgeon’s office and my hospital social work internship….oh, and let’s not forget that I have to keep my kids, ages 8 and 16, out of trouble.  Ha!  Yeah, there’s that.  Anyways, you, me, Friday – it’s a blog date.

Radio Shmadio

Welcome back, this week we’re talking about radio.  One of our assignments this week was to listen to a This American Life episode about 100 years of radio.  This episode talks about why radio is still relevant in our society, and it gives some great examples of diverse shows. The host Ira makes this statement at the beginning of the episode, “That’s part of what makes radio so different from other media.  That quality where it can seem so small and so fleeting.”  He also points out that radio can have a “false intimacy.”  He goes on to say, “It feels like you and me.  There’s just something about radio, it’s more personal.”

Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite movies, and I love this scene with Meg Ryan.  I think it really illustrates Ira’s point:

Even though the character was listening to a talk show I think the scene really shows how radio can pull you in and create an emotional connection to people we don’t even know, but somehow we really feel that we do.  I won’t ruin the movie for you if you haven’t seen it, but it deepens that sense of reality further, and shows you the power of radio in its ability to persuade people.

The other part of the This American Life episode I thought was interesting was Act 2 about two guys named Mike and Gordon who had their own very quirky surreal radio station.  The talk show seriously sounds like it’s right out of 1950 – you can’t make this stuff up.  The audience for the radio station are people who are “reading impaired”, so they read newspaper articles, discuss politics, and even cover local events, all while sharing their opinions.  They discuss things that are very mundane and yet due to their odd communication style in general it’s really pretty interesting.  I like how this story illustrates that radio can be completely unlike any other media, even taking people from the present into the past.

I generally listen to the radio for music, but there are a few stations/shows I like to listen to on public radio.  I’ve always liked This American Life because of the diverse and very “human stories.  I have to share my favorite episode with you, because it is freaking HILARIOUS.  It’s about a rookie and veteran cop’s experience:  First Day

Other than music and public radio I don’t listen to much else.  I generally read my news online, and I tend to be more visual than auditory, so TV and internet pretty much dominate my time.  Maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up listening to the radio much.  My dad always turned on the world news in the car, and as a kid it bored me to death.

I think radio will always have an important role in the media we consume.  Between radio podcasts and people listening to the radio on their commutes and through their iphones we will continue to have a connection to the radio.  Back to what Ira initially said in the This American Life podcast – radio makes us feel a close connection with people, even one that isn’t there, and from a sociological stand point we look for relationship, so we will continue to use the radio for this connection probably for years to come.

Brave

Welcome back to the social worker mama’s blog.  This week we’re taking a look at popular recorded music as we’re evaluating it’s “honesty”, “independence”, and “productivity.”  The essay “Don’t Stop Believing” by Diedre Pike we read really gets you thinking about popular music, and the meaning, message, and impact it has upon society.  Diedre says, “As art, music should be deeply honest. Does popular music live up to that challenge? Is music independent of bias coming from music company owners, the listening public, advertisers? Finally, can music be a productive cultural force, helping audiences become united in the goal to be better ancestors?”  These are all excellent questions.  I think there is a broad range of honesty, independence, and productivity in the music world.  Music is art, and by nature art communicates to its viewers partly by its message, but also by what the person listening to it feels and experiences through this process.  If a person can’t relate to a song they may not see a lot of honesty in it because their experiences in life cannot connect to the music’s message.  What might sound like total garbage to one person will be an incredible symphony to another.

One of my favorite musicians is Sara Bareilles, who just so happens to be from Eureka, pretty cool.  She grew up here and has slowly climbed the ladder to stardom.  She sang with Carol King recently and was chosen to sing Robin Williams memorial song at the Grammy’s.  My favorite song of hers is “Brave.”  I think it’s an incredibly honest song because it talks about real raw human emotions, challenges, and how to overcome them:

“You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes the shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

Independence is a difficult issue in the music industry because of marketing.  Artists are forced to think about what the public wants versus what they themselves may want to sing about.  The example Diedre gave of Ani DiFranco was great and very relevant to this topic, “DiFranco’s been offered major record deals. She turns these down. “The world needs more radicals like Ani DiFranco: wry, sexy, as committed to beauty and joy as revolution,” writes Will Hermes in Rolling Stone (2) Independent? Recording artist Ani DiFranco proves that it can be done. Thumbs up.”  Like Ani, there are many artists out there who refuse to be “bought” by the system, sold out, and marketed for the masses.  I personally have a lot more respect for those who remain true to themselves, and though they may not make as much money they have remained true to their art and that is something that deserves big kudos.  I think Sara B. personifies this even though she is a pop artist.  Many of her songs are unique and some even have a jazzy sound, so she’s not your run of the mill pop queen.

Lastly, we’re taking a look at the topic of productivity.  I think that the degree to which music can “make its mark” on society is greatly underestimated.  I don’t think most people realize the true power of music to move the masses, create social change, and mold people’s thinking in one way or the other.  U2 is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I got to see their Joshua Tree tour back in the day, yes I’m that old experienced.  I like this quote from Diedre’s essay, and think it’s very relevant to the issue of productivity in music: “After planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, people living in the United States – and around the world – felt uncertain about the future. Everything seemed topsy-turvy to people living in what had seemed the permanently secure U.S. of A. Before the nation’s vibe turned to one of patriotism and retribution, some creative thinking audio engineers remixed thoughtful rock songs into reflective tributes to the tragedy. In particular, U2 songs like “Peace On Earth” and “Stuck in the Moment” were crafted to include news audio clips from the day’s events. The melding of the two forms – news media and U2’s lead singer Bono singing a song recorded – and popular — before the tragedy seemed appropriate in the wake of this terrorist strike. The music soothed and united its audience, in opposition to the coming political rhetoric would divide the nation for the durations of long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”  I find it really interesting that Bono’s music became iconic during this time because of his personal history with the tragic civil war in Ireland which involved the IRA, bombings, and similar terrorist type activities.  This shared experience gave Bono a voice in the midst of our personal tragedy.  In order for music to become productive within society its message must be relevant and loud enough that it reaches into culture and society on multiple levels.  I think this productivity is fueled by shared human experiences and emotions which forms connections between the music and the people.

I really like this quote from the “Don’t Stop Believing” essay, “John Lennon of The Beatles famously sings, “Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do / Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too / Imagine all the people living life in peace.” Did his song influence the entire world to give up weapons of mass destruction? Nope. Did the lyrics affirm a segment of the audience who felt out of the norm for their peacenik-ness? Absolutely.”  Change has to start somewhere, and even if music only reaches a segment of society it can make long lasting impact and promote change.  Honesty, independence, and productivity truly are the right ingredients for music that will reach the masses and create a better world.

Persuaders: You Know You Want It

Hi everybody, this week we’re taking a look at the advertising world and the interaction between this world and the consumers.  We watched the Frontline documentary “Persuaders” which is about an inside look into what goes on behind the scenes in the advertising world, in other words, how do advertising companies get people to buy their stuff, and why do we always come back for more?  One of the main strategies of advertising is emotional branding.  Naomi Klein, marketing expert, says that marketing experts create a “pseudo-spiritual” connection between the consumer and the product.  Wait, what?  That sounds crazy honestly, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that she is absolutely correct.  But it gets even creepier.  Douglas Atkin of Proctor, marketing expert, realized that some advertising is “evangelical” and decided to study cults to try to understand what exactly people were drawn to.  Douglas felt that if he could understand the principle behind the cults he would be able to figure out what sucks people into advertising and keeps them coming back for more.  He discovered that there were certain themes that enticed people, a “meaning system” where values, family, and community were the hooks to reel people in.  Saturn is a prime example of this.  It’s a company that embodies the old time values and community to the extreme, even going to far as to have family Saturn events where people come to the Saturn factories to meet fellow Saturn lovers and see how the cars are made.  Again, very creepy, but it works so they’re definitely onto something for sure.  Companies like Tide advertise their product as being “the heart of the family.”  Again, the advertisers are attempting to get at consumers emotions in a way that will keep them coming back for more.

kate

Kate Winslett for American Express

Advertising has also made its way into film, which promotes it and even makes the product characters in the films.  Examples of this are the movie “I Am Sam” where Starbucks becomes a key character.  Cast Away is another great example where the advertising “character” is Fed Ex.  At the end of the movie Fed Ex ends up bringing Hanks romance.  Then there’s the infamous Sex in the City episode were Samantha’s boyfriend ends up on a gigantic bill board sporting his birthday suit and a bottle of Absolut Vodka.  Companies like BMW and American Express have also created mini films which have been very successful in marketing their products, partly due to the stars who act in them.

World Cup Nike movie ad:

The part of the documentary I found to be the most interesting was the part about the science of selling.  Cotaire Rapaille, a market research guru, says people are driven by “unconscious needs.”  He claims that if advertisers can tap into the “reptilian brain” they can figure out why people do what they do.  He follows a reason-emotion-primal core model, and looks for reptilian “hot buttons.”  Rapaille was once a psychologist, so he ingeniously applies psychology to advertising with amazing results.  Another marketing genius, Frank Lutz, feels that language is the most powerful form of advertising, if used correctly.  He has worked for political campaigns and has come up with words like “tax relief” for tax cuts and “climate change” instead of global warming.  He also brings up the point that 80% of advertising is emotion and 20% is intellect.  The end of the film talks about the company Acxiom, a giant information center which gathers billions of data on individuals, so the advertisers know exactly what products and likes and dislikes their customers have.  Beware, big brother is watching you, and he wants your money.

After watching the documentary I realized that #1 advertisers want to appeal to consumers emotions and will accomplish this through advertising manipulation.  #2  advertisers look for the voids and desires in people and then create a product to “fill the void.”  #3  advertisers know us better than we know ourselves, which is down right scary.  As consumers we have been brainwashed into thinking that a brand is going to make us happy beyond reason, that we can’t live without certain products, and that if we don’t have them we will be losers.  As the economy has declined it seems that advertisers have had to re-sharpen their tools in order to keep us hooked.  But there has been a back lash, and some consumers see through the lies.  That’s where Flawsome comes in.  The brand claims to “show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor, and character and humanity.”  The key drivers of the Flawsome brand are human brands that “drive consumers away from bland boring brands to brands with flavor and personality.” Then there’s the “transparency triumph” element of the brand customers benefiting from almost “total and utter transparency.”  This really sounds perfect now, doesn’t it?  But the fact remains, Flawsome is still a BRAND!  It’s just a much smarter and wiser brand.  It tricks people into thinking that they are in control of their advertising when in reality it’s the other way around, and I think the customers are being played even more by the advertisers who think that because they can expose some of the flaws of a product then they have won.  In fact, Flawsome has them right where they want them, buying products because they’re better, after all they are “honest.”  (When did a product develop human characteristics by the way?)  In the end it’s the same as any other advertiser because stupid people are still buying the product!

I bet people want to buy this out of sheer curiosity.  I mean, does the product suck?

lagunitas

I think advertisers will continue to get into the psyche of the public and will perpetually make money because in the end as a society Americans are materialistic at heart, in fact we’re probably the most materialistic society on earth.  If we’re duped by advertisers and lured into buying their products then it’s our own bloody fault.  We need to be smarter than the advertisers and realize that we don’t “need” any product.  Yes, we need the basics to live such as food, shelter, and clothing, but we don’t need the $100 pair of Nikes.  We’ve bought into a lie, and the lie continues to work because we want it to, and we would rather live in denial than face the fact that society tells us that we aren’t “good enough” without the newest most expensive things.  Stuff doesn’t ever satisfy, it just creates more of a desire and addiction for more stuff, (roaches), and let’s be honest:  enough is never enough.  The only way to silence this beast is to stop feeding it.  Instead of heading over to Kohl’s go thrifting, do a clothes swap, re-cycle and re-purpose.  Maybe you won’t be as “cool” as the person next door, but you won’t be duped into a lie that products will make your life perfect and money will buy your happiness either.