Susan Wiget, July 22, 2010 (view all comments by Susan Wiget)
We can’t set foot out of the house without exposure to advertising, even if we don’t watch TV, use the Internet, or read fashion magazines. Advertising is everywhere, from billboards and posters to clothing to shop windows. It is an inconvenient truth that we are indeed affected by advertising and commercialism, even if we don’t believe it.
This book is as much a psychology book as a sociology book. Using examples, statistics, interviews, and her own life experience, Kilbourne covers the connections between advertising and addiction. Ads talk directly to addicts in an attempt to make the addiction look like normal and accepted behavior. She addresses how we reach for material things in a futile attempt to find comfort. In an over-consumerist society that is destroying the planet, advertising encourages us to consume more and more and to replace interconnectedness, relations, and communication with material things. A car doesn’t argue with you, so it’s easier to buy a car than to communicate with people.
Can’t Buy My Love is a very important book for all Americans to read, so that they will be able to see advertising with a critical and conscious eye and not be fooled. It will also enable Americans to protect their children from the conditioning that advertisers, including those of the tobacco and alcohol industries, consciously attempt.
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unwontedargot, July 14, 2010 (view all comments by unwontedargot)
This is a fantastic analysis of the not-so-subtle ways that advertising attempts to prey on our desire for acceptance, intimacy, and understanding in our relationships by substituting products for people. I picked this up thinking it might help in a paper I was writing, found it didn't relate, but couldn't put it down. The more I read the more I recognized in myself and in my friends and acquaintances. This, like Carol J. Adams' "The Pornography of Meat" may take some hypotheses too far, but overall digs in all the right places, and raises really important questions for anybody who has been raised in the last 50 years. The effects of these advertising tactics are horrifying and evident. Read this and arm yourself, and any young woman you know.
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"When was the last time you felt this comfortable in a relationship?" — An ad for sneakers
"You can love it without getting your heart broken." — An ad for a car
"Until I find a real man, I'll settle for a real smoke." — A woman in a cigarette ad
Many advertisements these days make us feel as if we have an intimate, even passionate relationship with a product. But as Jean Kilbourne points out in this fascinating and shocking exposé, the dreamlike promise of advertising always leaves us hungry for more. We can never be satisfied, because the products we love cannot love us back.
Drawing upon her knowledge of psychology, media, and women's issues, Kilbourne offers nothing less than a new understanding of a ubiquitous phenomenon in our culture. The average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements a day and watches three years' worth of television ads over the course of a lifetime. Kilbourne paints a gripping portrait of how this barrage of advertising drastically affects young people, especially girls, by offering false promises of rebellion, connection, and control. She also offers a surprising analysis of the way advertising creates and then feeds an addictive mentality that often continues throughout adulthood.
This shocking expose reveals the tactics advertisers use to manipulate the innermost desires and fantasies of women and girls and transform them into addictive longings only their products will satisfy. Illustrations.
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