Clapp's Assessment Of American Consumer Culture

Decent Essays

I think Clapp’s assessment of American consumer culture are accurate and insightful. An examination of history and our modern cultural trends reveals the validity of Clapp’s assessment. For example, in the nineteenth century pictographic and flashy advertising taught the consumerism lifestyle to Americans and transformed America into a society of consumerism. “Consumers, in short, were made, not born” (Clapp, 1996, p. 366). From the 1800s to the present day advertisers continue to actively and aggressively sell a lifestyle with their product. [Modern consumerism is] a fun-house world of ever-proliferating wants and exquisitely unsatisfied desire, consumption entails most profoundly the cultivation of pleasure, the pursuit of novelty, and the …show more content…

Kilbourne demonstrates three major main criticisms of advertising. First, advertising objectifies people and objects for the purpose of sales. This critique promotes products as more important than people and exploits human deeds and desires. Kilbourne offers ample evidence to support her first criticism of advertising. For example, Kilbourne examines advertisement such as the Thule car-rack - which humorously places more value on sports equipment been a child's life - is evidence of the trend that advertising is “objectif[ing] people…trivializ[ing and exploiting] our most heartfelt moments and relationships. Every emotion [,person, animal, and natural phenomenon] is used to sell us something” (Kilbourne, 2006, 369). Second - according to Kilbourne - advertising promotes and perpetuates the unnatural passion for products rather than personal relationship. “Advertising corrupts relationships and then offers us products, both as solace and as substitutes for the intimate human connection we all long for and need” (Kilbourne, 2006, 370). Within this concept, advertising also commits ‘cultural rape’ by manipulating sacred symbols for their utilization as emotional leverage in advertising. Third, advertisements damage the personality and structure of culture. For example the Giwch’in tribe’s traditional culture was almost erased by the introduction of advertising through television. “As multinational chains replace local character, we end up in a world in which everyone is Gapped and Starbucked…[Thus] rampant commercialism undermines our physical and psychological health, our environments and our civic life, and creates a toxic society” (Kilbourne, 2006, 371), which robs individuals of cultural and personal diversity. Based on the evidence presented by Kilbourne, I strongly agree with all three of these

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