Can the Powerful be Role Models?

Art, without question, will derive from the cultural, personal and political contexts it’s found in. However, art alone has the potential to influence the actual contexts themselves. This relationship between art and context is very muclh like a conversation – of action and reaction – especially the visual.

This can be most overtly demonstrated in the media’s role of modern advertising, effectively probing an irrational and therefore impressionable state within mass populations. Why? According to Freudian deduction, insecurity and desire exist cooperatively – inflaming one another. It was actually Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, that used his uncle’s teachings to the advantage of advertisers – birthing the illusion of deficit that can only be filled by commodities; the consumerist narrative we see today.

To fuck off this narrative, which is clearly ill-serving of us, it would be argued to simply rid ourselves of advertising and all things relating to it. I propose the opposite. Though ridding ourselves of media buzzwords and such racket would certainly do well for our own psychology, to have any hope of reducing the power consumerism holds as a narrative, we must view its defining figures almost as sages.

Those who have the ability to control and exploit the masses must first have a comprehensive grasp of the human condition. Under Ray Kroc’s influence, McDonalds developed the iconography of  the infamous ‘M’ sig, rapidly impacting a global recognition. It was his intention to mimic the golden arches of the religious and academic architecture this phenomenon had replaced, along with the historical narrative. The age of convenience and purchase had taken charge. Coca-cola is also a leading example of this type of manipulation. The leading executives attach certain descriptions to their product which are quintessential to the culture they’re selling to, along with the insecurities that rest on them. For the UK currently (because it is winter time) – warmth, sentimentality, comfort. For Brazil – joy, vibrancy, playfulness.

So the visual is obviously a major factor in persuasion, because if we were to rely solely on touch and smell to experience such products and places, in my opinion we would merely receive blandness and indifference. Sound, however, also plays a massive role, especially when repetition is a leading consideration. The McDonald’s whistle, the Go Compare adverts, the five-note jingle in Coca-cola ads.
Repetition of image, repetition of sound, repetition repetition repetition works- unfortunately we are this sensitive. I certainly notice this in myself, that whenever I come across a supermarket logo, I’ll immediately be peckish and yet I like to identify as someone who is not in the clutches of consumerist ideology – dampening my self-righteous cred a little. Most of us are guilty of this which is ok to accept; it is not because we are stupid and docile (though this is what such companies would prefer us to believe), it’s because they are intelligent and their messages are fucking everywhere, using such to their advantage, therefore our disadvantage.

We have the same if not more intelligence, energy and diligence inside of us. We simply need to direct it where it’s worth, using our enemy’s knowledge against them and to share the load amongst a community of people who are just as angry as we are. It’s other people, their wisdom and important discussion born out of our interactions that act as a motor for our drive – basking in others insight and realising our own.

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