Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who Was That Masked Ad?

Newspapers have a great and interesting history. They are cheap and easy to publish and disseminate, so political movements have used them to spread their ideas. Both conservatives and liberals, people with good ideas and crazy make use of the glory of newsprint to get people fired up for change.

But today--in my mailbox I get something that is called "Citizen News Weekly". Sounds like a potential fun, liberal newspaper, right? Ohhh no, it's not. It's a piece of crap Hynudai advertisement that is pretending to be a newspaper. I was neither entertained, convinced of a political ideology, nor amused by this ploy.

I hate advertising sometimes. It takes perfectly legitimate forms of expression (and the conventions associated with those forms) and twists them to catch a potential consumer's attention. I don't like being tricked, or having my own understanding of my culture and society used against me.

What I really hate is how it seems that our energies and impulses toward activism and world change are being absorbed and thwarted by consumerism. We no longer have the same vigor for activism because we're selling our ideas for security, for nice things, for having what we want. And I implicate myself in this--it's easy to go to the Gap and buy a nice pair of jeans without thinking of how little workers in China are getting paid to provide me these comfortable pair of jeans.

I didn't exactly mean to go on an anti-consumerism rant, but it's difficult when you love forms of expression for their rich history, just to see them co-opted by advertising. And I realize that papers are full of advertisements, but this one purposefully set out to trick me into thinking it was an independent paper of the same ilk as our Free Weekly, which is dedicated to the community. It hoped to use my knowledge of that form to convince me I need a new piece of crap car (because that's what Hyundais are). And it kills trees just to tell me something I have no interest in.

I hate advertising.


Amber said...

I kinda like my Hyundai. It has served me well. I do however despise almost all forms of advertising. Blech.

the secret knitter said...

There's a lot to be despised about advertising, particularly how it tries to keep us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction or desire.

If you haven't seen I (Heart) Huckabees, I suggest you take a look at it.

I think it's admirable that you're struggling with the issues of consumerism, advertising, and activism through how and what you buy. It's always better to be an active consumer of the images put in front of us. That said, you're liable to drive yourself crazy thinking about all the injustice that may have gone into what you're purchasing.

I think the best you can do is follow your heart and recycle the paper the ads are on.

Justin Ray said...

I think I've driven myself crazy. I want things, but I don't want to have many things. I can't help but respect sneaky undercutting and advertising strategies, but I hate what they do to local business. Every time I try to think about it, I tell myself I'll figure it out later.

I'll figure it out later.