I have just started reading a very thought-provoking book by some French camarades – Contre les Publicités Sexistes (Against Sexist Advertising) by Sophie Pietrucci, Chris Vientiane and Aude Vincent (Editions L’Echappee).
The book begins with an excellent overview of the rise of advertising in our society and the enormous damage it has helped to inflict on this world.
Defined by the Groupe MARCUSE as “the industry of promoting industry”, advertising is rightly condemned by the authors of this new publication as essentially propaganda for capitalism itself.
Using the classic brainwashing technique of constant repetition, its overt and subliminal messages assail us constantly, pretty much wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
And, as the book points out, the fundamental effect is not even to sell the specific products involved, but to condition the human mind into an infantile state of uncritical openness to suggestion.
The vehicles in which advertising is conveyed to us are obviously a key part of this process, as is even admitted in an astonishing quote from the head of France’s main TV channel, TF1.
Patrick le Lay had told Le Monde that the role of his programmes was to make the viewer’s mind ‘disponible’ (receptive) – “that’s to say to entertain and relax it so it becomes prepared between two advertisements. What we are selling to Coca-Cola is time with a receptive human brain.”
The capitalist system deliberately creates a soulless and empty existence for its populations, so that they have to fill that void with the products that it sells to them.
The “choice” that the market supposedly offers us never includes the choice to buy nothing, to refuse to walk into their trap.
Increasingly, therefore, the fake world depicted by advertising (and the media which prop it up) replaces reality in the wiped and reprogrammed minds of its passive audience.
Can we be surprised that so many people are unable to imagine any alternative to a consumer capitalist future when their minds have been so totally monopolised by the system?
Even their individual personal identity, as the book points out, is defined by the products they buy – both to make them feel the same as other people and to make them feel just a little bit different.
Advertising insinuates itself into every corner of our culture – along with its brands and products it bring with its whole anti-ethos of superficiality, conformity, passivity, stupidity, worship of quantity over quality.
Its executives are the priesthood of the corrupted age of Kali Yuga (see Anarchangels), pulling us ever downwards into multiplicity, entropy and inevitable disaster.
Like a lot of other people I know, I have always – since childhood – had an instinctive loathing of advertising in all its forms.
But I am grateful to these authors for focusing my mind on quite how insidious a phenomenon it is.
This all-pervasive criminal conspiracy deliberately sets out to create the false needs which fuel mass consumption and all the exploitation and pollution that comes with it.
To put it bluntly, advertising is cheerleading the way to the destruction of our planet.