Advertising is everywhere. Americans have become so accustom to seeing ads that they barely pay attention to them anymore. So much advertisement appears every day and so much technology is used to push ads into people’s consciousness that ads are simply part of the social expectation. Every moment of every day someone is trying to sell something, shape and opinion, or create a desire in others through the use of advertising. In the days of radio and TV, ads spoke to us and got lodged in our heads. Today digital advertising comes at us visually from the moment we turn on our electronic devices, as we walk down the street, or ride a bus. Yet, most people feel that advertisements today fail to attain the emotional impact they once had, most believe they just ignore advertisements.
Not so fast, we can easily recall the most memorable marketing slogans of our youth — “Just do it,” “Got milk,” “Where’s the beef?” “Mikey likes it,” “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,”— “Good advertising makes food taste better, it makes cars run better,” says George Lois, a one-time art director for Esquire magazine who later catapulted MTV, ESPN and Tommy Hilfiger from nobodies to world influencers. Advertising changes everything. Ads create desire.
Art & Copy provides a fascinating look at an industry built around selling not just products, but emotions, ideas and lifestyles.
After watching Art and Copy, and reading chapters 2 and 3 in Grazian, develop an answer to one of the following questions. Make sure that you address both the reading and the film in your answer; the idea is to connect the theory you read with the documentary–the social practice–you see). Please try to answer different questions so that all questions get covered and we have an exciting dialog with lots of ideas to discuss. After answering your question please engage in a dialog with at least two other students around their posted answers. (Do not repeat what someone else says — your post must be unique. If you are posting later in the discussion you are responsible for making sure you are not repeating what someone has already said).
- How does contemporary popular culture and advertising help us reflect on the human condition, please address this question from both the Structural Functionalist and the Conflict Theory perspectives?
- Explain the concept of cultural hegemony and show how advertising and other forms of popular culture help create a cultural hegemony either in the U.S. or abroad.
- Provide an example of a cultural object that seems to be saturated with meaning and one that seem to be meaningless. How could both be part of the same culture?
After reading the chapters in The Culture Code choose one of the discussion prompts on which to write.
- Describe and discuss how social contexts affect Cultural Unconscious and its five guiding principles for Love, Seduction, and Sex. (provide your own example not one from the reading).
- Describe and discuss how social factors shape the Codes for Beauty and Fat in American society (provide your own example not one from the reading).
- Explain how being part of an interpretive community facilitates the development of culture codes (provide your own example not one from the reading)?
If you wish to present a popular culture item for analysis you may use the attachment function. Have fun with this question as you stretch your Sociological Imagination.
Thinking ahead to the Final Course Paper
Here students should discuss possible paper topics for the final course paper (please see assignment in week 4). In addition to a topic, you must choose a popular culture object that you are captivated by, obsessed with, or otherwise intrigued by. It can be a music genre, a toy, gossip magazines, romance novels, blogging, a celebrity past or present, a fashion, a film, a TV sit-com or drama, reality TV, a video game, home shopping, mall or outlet shopping, a sports team, a phenomenon like Bum Fights, etc… (please refer back to Grazian, chapter 1). The goal of the paper is to demonstrate what you have learned from the study of culture and socialization by interpreting a piece of popular culture. Key to this paper is that you have a popular culture object to analyze (please see week 1 reading–journal articles). What popular culture object might you be interested in studying? Students can often help one another by asking pertinent and probing questions, suggesting sources, or adding ideas in the project formation stage. The academic enterprise is a collaborative one so help work with one another.