Term Paper: American Culture and the Consumption

Pages: 4 (1496 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Advertising  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] However, merit and one's intrinstic worth in a capitalist culture is measured through the external traffic of commodities, rather than the internally exhibited merits of morality. Before television even existed, the institution of Hollywood and the film industry as one of America's primary cultural exports has been a contributing factor to this externality of American identity. The recently serialized 1920's novel in The New York Times, entitled The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, shows a 'hero' of sorts who makes himself up out of bootlegged money, corruption, and quite literally whole cloth in the form of nicely tailored European suits.

Allegations about Hollywood corrupting the youth of America thus do not take into consideration the larger picture and problem, that American identity itself is based in capitalist notions of commoficication. The first wave of moral anti-zealotry against Hollywood took place during the 1930's, when attempts to instill morality in Hollywood films via the Hayes Commission, for instance, featured industry prohibitions against a woman sitting on a bed unless one of her feet were on the floor, forcing actresses into physical acrobatics, as well as screenwriters, presumably. Thus, the hatred of Hollywood's bankrput nature did not begin with the Bush admistration of the present day, and remained sexual rather than commercial in its focus, quite misguidedly.

The current backlash of the 21st century reached feverish levels during the Clinton administration when Vice Presidental wife Tipper Gore demanded that music lyrics be rated and censored and after the Columbine shootings, the FTC released a report that "excoriated the entertainment industry for 'marketing' violent products that are, in the view of the FTC, not suitable for the young." The FTC accused the entertainment industry of being 'misleading,' "and darkly threatened to take some sort of enforcement action against it." But, as noted by Ronald D. Rotunda of the Cato Institute, a Visiting Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the University of Illinois, if "the FTC is truly concerned about misleading advertising, it should look at its own report; then it should look in the mirror. What does it mean to market to juveniles "when MetLife markets its insurance products by using Snoopy, the dog from the Peanuts cartoon series on billboards, commercials, and its homepage, where it "prominently displays the cartoon dog. As one browses the other links in the web page, we see Snoopy, Lucy, and the other characters selling life insurance, advising about a will, and so forth. Should "the FTC should investigate MetLife?" Although Rotunda makes this query, not seriously, but hyperbolically, indicating the limits of the law to police within First Amendment limitations, all of advertising, Hollywood, and American culture upon the burgeoning Internet, his suggestion is potent regarding how the friendly nature of the cartoon can mask, even for adults, a potent consumerist message that may not be sexual in content, or potentially obscene, but is seductive in its advertising potential.

Thus, even if the law does not provide an automatic solution to creating a less consumerist culture in an advertising-happy nation, the vexing aspect of the 'For Sale' sign upon American identity, with all of the bankrupt moral implications for children, remains. Furthermore, as the nation grows increasingly in debt from consuming a large array of cultural products deemed necessary by advertisers, and obese from the amount of food purveyed through supposedly entertaining venues, the problem of how to address this crisis remains. Artistic integrity of television, movies, and other venues must be maintained of course. But advertising and the first amendment are hardly synonymous with cultural quality. As early as the 1980's, when ET consumed Reece's Pieces, as a result of a marketing deal, and causing the peanut butter flavored shells to skyrocket in popularity, movies as well as television have formed an unholy alliance with advertisers. The industry must police its own advertising, or be policed, for a fully artistically integral product, absent of advertising and consumerist messages, that corrupt the minds of children and their parents, for the good of this generation as well as generations of the future.

Works Cited

Rotunda, Ronald. "The FTC Report on Hollywood Entertainment." The Federalist Society. 2003. http://www.fed-soc.org/Publications/practicegroupnewsletters/PG%20Links/rotunda.htm

Hennessy, Patrick. "Burger Off TV ads: Fighting Flab in Children." May 31, 2004. SMH. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/30/1085855439912.html?from=storylhs [END OF PREVIEW]

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