April 5, 2013

The Advertisers Are Laughing




Advertising changes people, and it changes cultures. It might be more accurate to say that it destroys traditional cultures while it homogenizes us into a singular mass of non-descript consumers.

Advertising is everywhere. It plays to the ego's eyes and ears and creates a new narrative in our minds. Over time it becomes difficult to tell the difference between our original, real desires and goals, and the ones put there by the marketing industry. First Nations in the Canadian north provide a case in point.

Inuit elders realized the destructive power of southern-based TV and advertising when transmissions became available for the first time beginning in the late 60s. Some communities, such as Igloolik, initially voted to refuse television fearing irreversible damage to their lifestyle.

Television and advertising did fill the air waves of the north, and the people felt the effects almost immediately. TV is not solely to blame for the social transformation of Inuit life, but it has played a large role.


TV advertising, and the promotion of the lifestyles of the industrial south, had effects on Inuit language, culture, and day-to-day life in traditional settlements. Today's Inuit youth are no longer socialized within a value system that emphasizes the importance of mutual cooperation and sharing.

Many Inuit, some have noticed, have become more materialistic, and therefore desire highly paid jobs in the industrial world rather than engage in traditional forms of subsistence.

Graburn (1982) has gone so far as to suggest that television is a form of cultural genocide.

And the advertisers, the world re-arrangers, laugh.

8 comments:

  1. Another great and powerful post. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. And reading. And following. And commenting.

      You are on a roll!

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  2. Advertising is insidious. It can invade our lives, even those of us who consider ourselves aware, can be taken in sometimes. Getting rid of it is almost impossible, but I've made an effort to do as much as I can. Even our public television channels (here in the US) now carry some advertising in the form of "Corporate Sponsorships" Sad that the general population seems to have no idea of the impact it is making on their lives.

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    1. Fish don't know they are in water... until they are pulled out of it.

      The equivalent for humans would be leaving the city and going out into nature for an intense no-advertising, no commerce experience. After 7 to 10 days in the wilderness, the city with all its chaotic corporate messages, feels pretty invasive and strange.

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    2. Before having to return to live with family, I lived in the Ozark Mountains. After living in such an isolated place, I was shocked on my return at the overwhelming traffic and billboards. It's small town here, but still has all the fast food, walmart crap. Sad that this used to be all farmland.

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  3. A while ago, I think it was 2008, my TV died. I never bothered getting another one, despite other people's chatting about what show made what reference or what the meme-of-the-week was. I would have to answer "I don't watch TV, it died". First response was "Oh! Do you want a new one? I have a friend who might have one used, etc. so on and so forth..." I always refused, because TV did nothing for me. The commercials were louder than the actual shows, and the shows lacked substance. After living without one for a month or so, life became quieter. Then I noticed radio was full of in-your-ear advertising. So I pitched that too. Then the Internet invented really sneaky mouse-over pop ups....so I installed AdBlock Plus. I now gather music I like as a playlist on YouTube or listen to Pandora (even though they have advertising, it's ONE commercial every five songs or something like that), I watch movies or shows I like online as well, and when a site attempts to guilt me into disabling AdBlock for their personal gains, I just cite the Red Queen hypothesis and tell them mentally that they just gotta get more clever with their nonsense. I am one step ahead of them. As for news...unless it's GOOD news, which is...never....I don't read it. No papers, no magazines...unless it's Adbusters ;)

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    1. We have to protect our mental environment, which is essential for maintaining sanity in a crazy world. It is nice not to be poked all the time by people that want your money, and increasingly appear willing to do anything to get it.

      Quiet is a rare and under-rated experience that most in the modern world never get to enjoy. I like to cycle far enough up into the hills that I am away from human made sounds. There are gentle sounds of wind blowing through the trees, bird calls, water running over rocks, and for periods of time, glorious silence.

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  4. We have a TV, but I usually download stuff and watch it, rather than watching the TV. I always change channel if there are ads, and if I do watch an ad, I just think 'how stupid'.

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