Saturday, 26 October 2013

Seminar: Consumerism

Following on from Richard's Lecture on Consumerism last Wednesday:

Bernays Freud
Instictual Desire
Pleasure Principle
Incompatible with society
Consumption to satisfy desire
Social Control
Commodities / societies / people

False Needs
Mass production - Fordist 
-Disposable/increased consumption / Brand culture emerges (1920s)

In small groups we were given a short extract of text written by John Berger. We were asked to read this and identify the most interesting points made suggesting glamour and envy within advertising. This was a slightly difficult task as we found the entire extract interesting and informative. Once we had depicted the points we found most interesting and relevant, we were asked to apply this to a specific example of advertising. This was to then be presented to the rest of the class. 

We agreed that a perfume advert would be the most appropriate source to support John Berger's observations. We found a vast amount of good examples, but chose to go with a very recent Dolce and Gabbana advertisement featuring Scarlett Johansson. 

Our main quotes supported and displayed in this video were:

Publicity does not manufacture the dream. All that it does is to teach one of us that we are not yet enviable - yet could be.
This is evident in the advert shown above. The manner in which Scarlett Johansson is dressed is instantly definable as glamourous. She is behaving in a sophisticated and elegant manor. This could be to seem desirable to both men and women. Men would desire to be with a woman like this. Women would desire to be this woman. This therefore begins to form a connotation that if other women (the target audience) dress and behave in this way, they could transform into an enviable figure, in the same way Scarlett Johansson is enviable in this perfume advert. The reference at the end 'Oh I'm not looking for a million things, just that one, perfect thing, love,' is juxtaposed with her holding up her Dolce & Gabbana perfume as she sprays it on herself. This then insinuates that the perfume symbolises 'love' and that love is the key to becoming glamourous and enviable.. in this case 'love' is a metaphorical term for the perfume itself.

The gap between what publicity actually offers and the future it promises, corresponds with the gap between what the spectator-buyer feels himself to be and what he would like to be.
Following on from the point made above about setting out with an intention to achieve a particular feeling, the quote above describes the transition period between wanting something and achieving it. This quote supports the first quote in suggesting that the actions the buyer takes depends strongly on how they currently view themselves, in comparison to how they would like to view themselves. In the Dolce and Gabbana advert, there is an implication that the buyer may be feeling incomplete without 'love' and therefore to feel loved they need to acquire a more glamourous lifestyle. In this case, buying the perfume would only be appealing to the buyer if they perceive it to 'bridge the gap' between who they are now and who they would rather be more like.

The whole world becomes a setting for the fulfilment of of publicity's promise of the good life. The world smiles at us. It offers itself to us. And because everywhere is imagined as offering itself to us, everywhere is more or less the same.

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