Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Study Task 2: Consumerism


Using the text Berger, J. (1972) 'Ways of Seeing', write one critical analysis of an advert which, in your opinion, reflects the logic of consumerism, or the social conditions of consumerism, discussed in the lecture 'Consumerism' (17/10/13). Use at least five quotes, referenced according to the Harvard system, in support of your argument.

Diesel: Only The Brave

   The image above is a Men's Diesel advertisement. The core purpose of this advert is to persuade men (and women) into buying this new fragrance. There is use of both text and image. The image of a proud, strong and tough-looking man is placed as the main focus of the advertisement. As the man is attractive, it can be argued that this is to initially grab both men and women's attention. Men may see this man as someone to admire - someone they would like to be more like. John Berger quotes: 'The image then makes him envious of himself as he might be. Yet what makes this self-which-he-might-be-be enviable? The envy of others. Publicity is about social relations, not objects. Its promise is not of pleasure, but of happiness: happiness as judged from the outside by others. The happiness of being envied is glamour.' This suggests that by becoming the enviable object in which you have intended to be, the buyer experiences a feeling of glamour. Whether it is the case, or if it is merely a psychological thought process, in their opinion they are now the admirable icon.

   This advertisement supports John Berger's Quote. 'Being envied is a solidarity form of reassurance.' There is a clear sense of strength and solidarity in the stance of the man being exemplified. The positioning of the man in front of both the text and background imagery of a City landscape creates a connotation of power and independence. It can be argued that most men like to feel strong, independent and in control of their lives. Particularly egotistical Men. The Man's fist is clenched. This is to resemble the shape of the perfume bottle itself, but also adds emphasis to a sense of solidarity and strength. A clenched fist could also be symbolising a punch. The text accompanying this symbolisation reads 'Only the brave' followed by 'Do you have what it takes?' It could be argued this is still speaking to all men; men who do not yet feel brave, but could do if they step up to the challenge. And also, men who do already feel brave enough and what to step up to the challenge to prove this. The question is rhetorical, the only way in which a man can prove themselves in this context is to buy the fragrance and wear it with pride. This returns back to the original point about how people currently perceive themselves, and how they would prefer to be perceived. The reassurance in this case comes from smelling good.

   This is best concluded by John Berger. '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.' The consumer will only feel inclined to buy a product if he/she believes it will improve their lives or happiness in some way. If there is no desire to improve or gain anything, the consumer will not buy the fragrance. Therefore it can be argued that in literal term, the advertisement generates feelings of envy which the consumer may not have been conscious of. These feelings of envy may then evolve or adapt into a feeling of need or desire to bridge the gap between feeling inadequate. The solution, in this case is to therefore buy this Diesel product to feel a form of complete solidarity.

1 comment:

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