The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ads Hijack Self

Some studies estimate that the average city dwelling American sees between 20,000-40,000 advertisements per day. If you live in a city like Los Angeles or New York, you can bet that number is at the top of that scale. The American metropolis has redefined the limits of advertising, and it’s taken your mind along for a wild ride.

Think of your favorite story. It might be romantic, heroic, or even tragic, but guaranteed there are at least a few strong morals shining through in its message. Now, take that beloved narrative that speaks to your sense of humanity, and use it to sell somebody a soda or a pair of jeans.

Ads take powerful narrative forces and manipulate them so that they can be associated with whatever product advertisers want to sell. Laundry detergent doesn’t have anything to do with spending more time with your family, but when you walk down the grocery store aisle and see that name you recognize, you don’t even remember the family in the commercial, only the feeling of pride and happiness it left you with. We have been disassociated from our stories.

With so much arbitrary relations between ethical value and material goods, it’s gotten confusing to know what to identify with, which is why so many people construct their character based on the products they buy. I wear Levi’s because I am a real American, and I work hard, but in reality I really just want people to know I have style, and enough cash to buy a decent pair of jeans.

This makes people distrusting of what is supposed to give their lives guidance. Our current and increasing trend of ‘ironic displacement’ borders on apathy, and exists only to laugh at itself because it holds no real stake in global issues. It is as though the world has become so troubled that our cultural response is an army of hip, cool kids who are bold because they wear funny (but really cool) clothes.

It is nothing new to have intelligent yet misguided youths dissatisfied by their culture. The beats, the hippies, the punks, the new age kids, the scenesters, and the hipsters are a long line that is likely to continue so long as out culture gives us noncommittal methods of rebellion that do nothing but propel the status quo. “The rebellion has been co-opted by the combine,” as Kesey might say. But what are we really pseudo-rebelling against while we live in the most prosperous empire mankind has known? Why do so many people need to be medicated, psychoanalyzed, and incarcerated if our society is so great? Suicide is a luxury of first world cultures; in other places in the world people actually have to fight for their lives, not hide from them.

So how do we get back to reality? Can we fight against the meme war that is taking place in our minds by big advertising? To get back to truth, we have to care, and to care we cant be smugly detached from the crazy world around us. This is a call to anyone who feels that something is deeply wrong with the values proposed by our culture, and by values I don’t mean abstract rhetoric like ‘freedom’ and ‘happiness,’ I mean the real values that get shot through screens, billboards, and radio signals telling us how unsatisfied we actually are. I suppose it’s the only way we’ve found to keep this big machine trucking forward down the road of ‘progress.’ Keep your eyes open.

Sean McEvoy


Anonymous Jordan Bunger said...

Thank you for that..I can relate to the dissatisfaction for not having a certain pair of jeans or having a zip up when hoodies are fashionable - you dont feel cool until you have doesnt mean you arent cool, you just dont FEEL it

February 17, 2011 at 1:40 AM  
Anonymous kelsey laubscher said...

Your writing is informative and interesting with no air of pretension, as well as being intellectually engaging and easy to digest. I really enjoy reading your work.

February 21, 2011 at 12:34 AM  

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