Growth of the Information Age
The proliferation of the Internet and the ease of sharing information online has greatly enhanced the power of media and advertising. It shapes are attitudes, behaviors and our values in regards to how we view everything and everyone. Everyone speaks about how media affects our society but the power of advertising also comes from the ideas and messages that get portrayed as an underlying reality in media.
Advertising Providing Solutions to our Deepest Longings
Everyday we are exposed to a particular lifestyle portrayed in movies, tv shows, billboards and commercials. We see people dressed a certain way, living life “to the fullest” – in a particular way. Unfortunately, these characters are created to sell products or raise ratings. Often what is portrayed may not be aligned with reality and yet we may feel that…
- We long to have the kind of life they live.
- We wish our lives were just as exciting.
- We wish we had such close relationships and friends.
- We wish we would run into that kind of luck we see on TV.
- We wish we can live just as recklessly, perhaps promiscuously without consequences.
- We wish we could be as happy as the people we see.
- We wish to look the way they look, have the body shape as they do.
Media has a way of creating a longing for things we don’t have, whether or not they are realistic or not.
- Unfortunately our lives don’t wrap up cleanly in 30 minutes.
- Unfortunately there is consequences to our actions.
- Unfortunately reckless actions lead to pain, suffering and life long regret.
- Unfortunately reality says our life probably will not or maybe will never pan out the way we see on TV.
- Unfortunately we do have limits in ability, skills, and even physical appearance.
- Unfortunately the way a particular product brings completely happiness and satisfaction as seen on the joyous beautiful actors having fun is not true to reality.
Eating a stick of gum isn’t going to make you feel like your diving off a waterful. Getting that sleek sports car and driving down a remote coastline is only going to make you happy for so long before you search for the next best thing. Even getting that beautiful girlfriend doesn’t equate to guarenteed happiness.
Mainstream media and advertising often leaves us unsatisfied with the cards we are dealt. Rather than being content with reality, we desire for that which we do not have. Advertising strongly abuses these emotional feelings to get us to buy a product or use a service, but simply watching a particular lifestyle in a TV program can also bring about these feelings.
Advertising is not Evil, but it’s Influence can be
All media and advertising is not necessarily deceptive. When advertising highlights a benefit of a product or service and matches them with your needs it is beneficial to society. It plays an important role in helping our economy function. It is a tool for economic growth and way to inform the public. It helps increase competition, make productions efficient, lowering prices, creating jobs and improving overall livelihood.
Where media and advertising fail is when the goal of revenue overcomes our sense of ethics or morality. There was a time when tv shows, movies and advertising alike held a high moral standard in what kind of message they portrayed and what kind of images they would display before the public. Targeting children over products they don’t need? Showing questionably dressed women dancing for products that has nothing to do with women or dancing during the Superbowl when families are watching the game together? Such a company would be blackballed, but now it’s all part of the advertising game. It is the norm.
So what can be done?
Advertisers and producers can assert positive influence on this unfortunate trend in our society. First by taking a stand to a higher moral standard. But also advertisers can choose to only support all that which demonstrates aesthetic and moral quality. A company can simply refuse to have their ads linked with violent or sexually explicit programs while only supporting clean programming. As a consumer one can have the stance to only support watching clean movies, tv shows, and buying products that use questionable advertising tactics. If revenue is what drives companies to do what they do, be sure not to encourage them even if it means skipping out on that movie you are dying to see!
When advertisements deliberate seek to deceive by the underlying images they present, it really asserts the wrong kind of influence to our society especially to children and teenagers.
It isn’t easy but we can all do our part. If only we could form a critical mass of highly committed individuals that can act together in this way we could assert a much stronger influence. This is one of the many future hopes of Clean Cut Media.