Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Connection Between Advertising and Imitation

 The average person sees thousands of ads daily – on billboards, radio, newspapers, and especially TV. But have you ever considered how TV shows in of themselves are an advertisement?

Depending on the type of show it is, it can sell you an image of what you should look like, how you should act, how you should socialize, and what you should say. It can tell you how to relate to your family and friends, simply but the way the show is designed. Teen shows especially are set up to do this.

Take for example, the teen shows like Victorious, The Suite Life of Zak and Cody, or Hannah Montana.  All of the characters in those shows look the same: the girls wear a lot of makeup, have their hair perfectly styled, and wear clothes that are put together. No plain jeans and t-shirts seen here.  

They all act the same, too. Their scripted lines are sarcastic, as if they’re trying to be funny, but failing. They say stuff no one really says in real life. Everything they say is superficial, with little basis in reality. They all treat adults with disrespect and condescension. 

These shows are not real, but everything they do is set up to be the version of a perfect reality. Do the characters ever go through the same hardships and tragedies a real teen might have? Not really, at least, not at its deepest, most real level. Do they ever deal with their journey of self-knowledge that all teens face? No, they’re too focused on the cute guy sitting in the front of the class and how they can project themselves to get his attention. Another bad example for girls.

The shows are a false image, nothing more. 

I’ve noticed how high-school aged girls are starting to dress the same, style their hair the same and even act the same. Too many of them act superficial. Without anyone realizing it, these TV shows have projected this image to teens that they want to see them reenact. Forgive the cliché, but these shows are “brainwashing” them. 

If we want the future generations to be able to think for themselves and not base their self-identity on something they see, or on what advertisement tells them they should be, maybe we should monitor their intake of TV more.

Might I go so far as to say it can become a form of hypnotism? Looking into a bright light, the mind relaxed and unaware, receiving a stream of suggestions…it’s a little too close, I think.


BG45 said...

Have you ever read any of Gerbner's theories on worldview cultivation? Your post is reminding me of it in passing; his theory mainly deals with television news and how we view the world.

Therese said...

I haven't read his theories personally, but I've learned about them in my Journalism classes. Very interesting!