One of the issues I have lately is that when I watch TV (ordinary network TV with ads and all) or listen to the radio then I am subjected to a bombardment from a varied set of advertisements that all sound “legitimate” since they are coming from a network where I have chosen to reside (however temporarily). That’s a complex way of saying that just because I’m there listening to their radio station (or watching TV), the advertisers take advantage and make it sound like they are “endorsed” by the station I’m listening to (or watching).
Endorsement is a very important step in the human psyche. The fact of hearing an advertisement and associating the entity represented with the station where I like to hear my favorite music (or watch my favorite shows or listen to my favorite talk-show host) is apt to influence purchasing decisions in a profound way. Marketers, of course, know this and they take advantage of it. Several years back my son floored me when he said that everything on TV is lies! I took a slight exception to what he said and replied that certainly all advertising is lies, but not quite everything we watch is lies. The news we watch is at least partially true, albeit filtered and censored through the judgements of various TV News executives and producers, writers, and even the reporters themselves. Everyone is apt to put their own slant on things, and apply their own set of values to anything they are reporting.
However, advertisers do it as a rule and with intention to deceive us and especially to influence us and alter the ways we spend and manage our money and resources. My favorite example are Casinos (gambling). When I was a kid growing up, there were no Casinos except in Las Vegas, and a few Poker clubs in one part of Los Angeles. Then along came the Lottery. The CA Lottery came along in the 1980’s and promised huge returns for schools and parks in exchange for the glimmer of fabulous wealth. The Lottery changed perceptions about gambling forever. Many folks have been lured by the possibility of huge wealth and have been swayed to part with money they should not be spending in order to try and “get rich quick.” Face it – rich folks don’t “gamble” on the lottery, therefore, it’s an additional tax on poor and middle class folks.
Following that success, the gambling industry turned to Casinos outside Las Vegas as the next great Mecca. They took to negotiations with various Native American groups in order to build gambling paradises on reservations. Gambling institutions found a way to promote their interests while keeping costs low. Taxes are low on Native properties, and in fact, property tax is likely non-existent. I’ve never explored entirely why this trend started, they promised however that Native Americans would benefit in huge ways from the influx of wealth into the Casinos on the reservations. Chuck Norris has been one celebrity who has told the truth about these false idols of Capitalism and greed. I also spoke with a fellow some years back who had been Mayor of Gallup, New Mexico. The Former Mayor had a jewelry shop at the time I spoke with him. He told us of the hopelessness and despair caused by the Casinos. He employed a couple dozen jewelry makers at his shop he said, and he had to alter his payroll practices to try and insure that _some_ of the money he paid those folks made it home. Those Native Americans artists were apt to go down to the Casino with their payroll check and spend it all in one night (lose it all!) he said.
Gambling is not the only problem in America, the only industry that has taken advantage of Advertising to “Legitimize” itself. I also find issue with American’s notions of “The lawn.” What is it with us that we think that we all deserve to own a house and have a beautiful lawn? When you listen to advertisers out there advertising lawn care products, riding mowers and other accessories and such, fertilizers, amendments, and so on, you’d think that we all had a desire to have a “Park like” atmosphere in our backyards! Well, we probably do, but why in heck does it need to be a lawn? I tell you that the fellow who invented the “The lawn” should be shot! There is no more water thirsty (and wasting) organism on this entire planet than the lawn! It requires weekly (if not daily!) maintenance, and is a nightmare in terms of costs / benefit. And yet, everyone wants one so their house can look “Just like the Jone’s down the street” (or better!).
What is it with us Americans? Doesn’t anybody THINK anymore?