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Advertising is Pollution
to the Brain

Why the Marketing
of the Capitalist System
is a Parasite on the Side
of Civilized Thought

By Punkerslut

By Breakfast, from RadicalGraphics.org
Image: By Breakfast, from RadicalGraphics.org

Start Date: March 12, 2011
Finish Date: March 13, 2011

"The thing that suggests itself immediately is the cinematograph. Everyone must have noticed the extraordinary powers that are latent in the film -- the powers of distortion, of fantasy, in general of escaping the restrictions of the physical world.... If one thinks of it there is very little in the mind that could not somehow be represented by the strange distorting powers of the film."
          --George Orwell, 1940
          "New Words"

     You'll be walking down the street, enjoying the simplicity of the sun's warmth and gentle feel of the wind on your skin. Memories of last December come back -- the bitter cold collecting in white flakes on the windows, the embers of a fire slowly draw like the silence. And, maybe a lover by your side, someone to be with while admiring the glow from the hearth. But, as you begin to imagine their face in your mind, painting the slant of the nose and the curve of the eyebrows, your enjoyment of the sky's breath and the sun's heat, you come to a bright red billboard, that completely distracts you, and forces upon your thoughts that overpowering message: "DRINK COKE."

     Your thoughts dissipate, you try to backstep in your mind, but the moment is lost to the back of your head again. Maybe enjoying the simple harmony of existence will bring you to something just as impressive in the subconsciousness... until you come along to something else just as tasteless and heartless that wants to influence your thoughts and feelings.

     Capitalism must make itself appealing in some way. It must be able to reach out to mold and bend the hearts of its listeners. Advertising today fulfills this function. It is a substitute for the church that told the serfs to obey their vassals. It is a replacement for the disorganized and thoughtless influence of patriotism that told citizens to obey their lords of industry.

     No longer does the system tell its people that they must obey because god has ordained it, or that they must submit because the glory of their nation and people depend upon it. Such lies can hardly be swallowed in this age of thought. Instead, the class of possessors try to make the terms of their exploitation more bearable -- today, Capitalism relies on advertising to subdue the independence of thought in the individual.

     What is the aim of the advertiser? It is not only to gain a wider audience for the commodity that they're selling. It is also to keep the memory of the commodity fresh in those who are already its buyers. The advertiser constantly invades the personal realm of the mind, taking the stream of consciousness and diverting it from reaching the riverbed. Everyone's mind can capture the glare off of metal and the beauty from a pier, and then naturally take it toward some fantasy, some memory, some feelings that relate to the individual. But when the beauty is covered up by billboards, and when there is nowhere to look without advertising, one must begin to question the autonomy of the brain.

By Breakfast, from RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From PeaceLibertad Blog

     Where do your own original thoughts come from? What transition in thinking must take place for your mind to take in and create a new idea? What ratio is there for imitation to originality to create something unique? Was it something as simple as an apple falling on Isaac Newton's head that was able to make him grasp the concept of universal gravitation? How do all of the ingredients of thought combine to make something that is distinguishable from all of its parts? There aren't any exact answers to these questions, but at least we appreciate that so many elements are involved in determining how someone thinks.

     The individual may be holding as few as one to as many as ten ingredients that produce their thoughts at any given moment. Consider the person waiting for the bus: A car passing by with the radio on produces one influence, telling the listener what politician to vote for. The bench at the bus stop itself is laminated like a gigantic billboard, except its message is much more meager, maybe an ad for a temp agency or for a job directory. This is the second influence, and a third can be seen in the statues of a nearby park, glorifying some foreign conquest.

     Just as noble as war, as the bus arrives, you find a fourth influence: a large piece of cardboard on the side of the bus tells you what you should be drinking or eating. Once inside the bus, there are the logos on apparel, the notices encouraging bulk purchasing of tickets, and even tiny pieces of cardboard with private adds on them, glued on or near the bus ceiling. The only way to look somewhere without seeing the paid influence of heartless Capitalists is to close your eyes.

     "I just need some time to get away -- I just need a few moments to think on my own," this is the plea of the escapist who leaves urban civilization for the woods to release their frustrations. The right to think on your own, completely uninfluenced by these heartless advertisements, is something only available to those who can afford the vacation. That is how massive and dominant advertising has become within our society. The thoughts of the individual, while emanating from their own mind, are hardly at their own control.

     What kind of final output can be expected in a mind that is juggling these hundreds of little influences? Commercials on television, with televisions playing commercials in the storefronts of windows, and with even the films and programming having embedded advertisements. Whether the banner is a flashing one on some website, or is being dragged across the sky by a small plane, in both cases they alike attack the good senses. They take those natural thoughts, the smell of the sweet air of summer and the memories of some powerful fiction, and lead them to the a perverted consequence: do not think for yourself, as would any independent individual, but think for us, the wealthy, propertied classes.

"No man stood on truth. They were merely banded together, as usual one leaning on another, and all together on nothing..."
          --Henry David Thoreau, 1863
          "Life Without Principle"


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