Saturday, January 2, 2021

Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse

Part 1: New World Notes #670, 28:00 (January 5)
Broadcast quality MP3 (38 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Part 2: New World Notes #671, 28:18 (January 12)
Broadcast quality MP3 (39 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Part 3: New World Notes #672, 28:40 (January 19)
Broadcast quality MP3 (39 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

An engaging and insightful documentary on corporate-sponsored advertising in the 21st century. It explores advertising's ubiquity; its insidiousness; its devastating social, psychological, and environmental effects--and its role in perpetuating the most harmful aspects of corporate capitalism.

Communications scholar and activist Sut Jhally narrates. The film is adapted to radio, and with introductions, by KD.

Part 1 focuses on the commercial takeover of our culture, the problem of industrial overproduction, and the development of the advertising industry to increase demand for products.

(Click to enlarge)

Part 2
explores the failure of "the Marketplace"--and of capitalism--to provide what people consider to be the real sources of happiness: good social relationships, love and romance, meaningful work, and the like. Capitalism--especially through advertising--quite falsely promises that buying consumer goods will lead to those sources of happiness.

Then Part 2 examines the devastating ecological and environmental effects of our culture's binge of consumption.

Part 3 further explores the ecological devastation wrought by the trio of neoliberal capitalism, rampant consumerism, and product advertising. It also explores the breakdown of social ties--and the celebration of rampant and live-for-today individualism--that this trio promotes.

But the film's conclusion is optimistic: many people are seeing through the trio's false promises and are rebelling.

Following the film are two complementary sketches: comedian Bill Hicks on advertising and marketing, and Janis Joplin's song, "Mercedes Benz."


Sut Jhally, at UMass, Amherst

Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse was produced, in 2017, by the Media Education Foundation.