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Utopia and Advertising. (“Adtopia”). Richard K. Simon. The most powerful (appealing) story we know (in our society, right now) is told to us by advertisers. The Advertising “Story”:. Beautiful people, living for their own pleasure in a just and happy society.

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Utopia and advertising

Utopia and Advertising

(“Adtopia”)


Richard k simon
Richard K. Simon

  • The most powerful (appealing) story we know (in our society, right now) is told to us by advertisers


The advertising story
The Advertising “Story”:

  • Beautiful people, living for their own pleasure in a just and happy society.

  • Poverty, suffering and hate do not exist

  • Although few people work, there are more than enough goods and services to satisfy their needs.

  • People consume these products constantly and compulsively


People in the advertising story
People in the advertising story:

  • Self-centered, indulgent, materialist beyond measure

  • Although self-centered, their selfishness must be a virtue, since they live in a world that seems better than ours

  • Lack of self-denial; “it doesn’t get any better”


Simon on the advertising story
Simon on the Advertising Story:

  • Advertising story is a fantasy, a “fiction”

  • However, this elaborate fiction has become the background by which we measure our lives


Advertising story a combination
Advertising Story a Combination:

  • 1. The Tale of the Golden Age

  • 2. The Story of Utopia


Similarities
Similarities:

  • Both portray situations where suffering and injustice do not exist

  • Both stories portray a world (and a society) much better than the one that exists


Tale of the golden age
Tale of the Golden Age

  • Middle East, Europe, India

  • Mythical interpretation of history (divided into stages, or ages)

  • Golden Age is first and best, then decay

  • Humans don’t age, food from the trees (abundance)


R simon on golden age
R. Simon on Golden Age:

  • Personal Freedom

  • No need to work

  • You do what you want


Utopia general features
Utopia—General Features

  • Name from Sir Thomas More’s book in early 1500s

  • More’s book based on Plato’s REPUBLIC

  • Poets, Philosophers before More built on the concept without necessarily naming it “Utopia”

  • After More many writers, philosophers use the concept and the term


Common features of utopias
Common Features of Utopias

  • Assumption of the poets and philosophers: through Reason, humankind could create a better world

  • Utopian concepts a critique of existing society

  • Utopias have a social structure (norms, expectations & requirements, a code of ethics)


The modern advertising story
The Modern Advertising “Story”

  • Combines elements of the Tale of the Golden Age and Utopia

  • the story shows a society where you can eat all you want and at the same time has a “social structure” (rules, social classes, people dealing with life’s problems)


More s utopia vs advertising
More’s Utopia vs. Advertising

  • Account based on the narration of an explorer who discovers Utopia

  • Basic equality, peace, few laws, lacking the evils of outside society (poverty & misery)

  • More’s Utopia shows commitment to Christianity (belief in Supreme Being & existence of Christian virtues)


More s utopia
More’s Utopia:

  • Requirements: Virtue, work, study, monogamy

  • Crimes against the state=Idleness, luxury, sexual promiscuity, private property


More s utopia ii
More’s Utopia (II)

  • Free time is used to improve minds through study

  • Idleness and gambling not allowed

  • Wise men are priests who lead their followers in a celebration of spiritual truth and the nature of faith


More s utopia iii
More’s Utopia (III)

  • Money and what it can buy are the greatest evil

  • Pride is the “beastly root of all evils”

  • Gluttony, lust, sloth, pride, covetousness, envy, anger= 7 deadly sins

  • Elimination of individuality—it is the community that counts


More s utopia pleasures allowed
More’s Utopia: Pleasures allowed?

  • Mental pleasures from contemplation of ideas

  • Sexual pleasure of the physical kind; a well functioning body more important


Tradeoffs in utopia
Tradeoffs in Utopia:

  • No privacy, individuality, free travel, wealth, ostentation

  • No sexual freedom

  • But get world with social justice and no suffering


Adtopia
Adtopia:

  • Similar to Golden Age in attitudes toward pleasure and the stress on consumption rather than production

  • Similar to Utopia with social structure (a society with its own customs and institutions)


In adtopia
In Adtopia

  • Few work, but the few happy workers in spotless factories

  • You are “in good hands with Allstate”

  • Everyone free to wanter off in a Winnebago

  • No one is poor, homeless, seriously ill, or discriminated against

  • Live in 2 social classes (upper & middle)


In adtopia1
In Adtopia:

  • Enough goods to satisfy needs (breakfast cereals, beer, deodorant, phone service, flat screen tvs)

  • People consume these products constantly

  • Lack of self denial—can eat as much as you want and never gain weight


Evaluation of adtopia
Evaluation of Adtopia

  • Private property is the source of goodness

  • Seven deadly sins are cardinal virtues

  • Difficulty in relation to one another—avoid each other. Relation to each other through consumer products

  • Prefer relationship to products = Commodomy (sodomy+commodity)


Tradeoffs in adtopia
Tradeoffs in Adtopia

  • Have privacy, individuality, free travel, clothing choices, great wealth, ostentation, sexual freedom, however,

  • It is a world where decision-making is meaningless, where people prefer their “things” over other people, where those things hold power over them. Restlessness and boredom prevail


Adtopia in context karl mannheim
Adtopia in Context: Karl Mannheim

  • Ideology and Utopia

  • 4 stages of Utopian ideas:

  • Estatic Mysticism

  • liberal humanitarianism (reason and abstract ideals)

  • conservative-romantic counter utopia

  • socialist-communist utopia


Adtopia1
Adtopia

  • Is a fifth “type”

  • The good life for all (communist-socialist) is combined with the conservative (3)—we have the good life right now in this capitalist society based on private property, the market, and commodity production


Reification and the fetishism of commodities karl marx
Reification and the Fetishism of Commodities—Karl Marx

  • Reification=treating socially created things (commodities) as if they were part of nature

  • Fetishism of commodities=treating commodities as if they have magical or supernatural properties

  • Commodities rule over the creators

  • Every problem, need answered by commodities


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