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  1. #1
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    Default The American Collective Psyche and Advertising

    Based loosely in some quotes I have read from Jung about the importance of a cohesive cultural psyche (you can check my blog if you want more details on my speculation), it has come to my attention that Americans absolutely suffer this fractured psyche as a nation, because politically we are split by a false dichotomy (the people who want to be ruled by Wal Mart and Jerry Fallwell versus those who want to be ruled by a politically correct expanded government is typically the narrative I hear) that employs old tricks like propaganda and religion to distract the general public from the fact that they are ALREADY being controlled and robbed blind.

    We may as well be two nations for that reason, in terms of a cultural outlook on most major issues.

    This isn't even the result of the already culturally diverse population of immigrants that we all originally spring from.

    This alone probably could account for the stunning amount depression and anxiety diagnosed in our ratherwealthy privileged country...except I think an even more insidious reason is at work here.

    The corporatization of America began in earnest in the mid 20th century, I think not coincidentally, in the 1970s and 1980s teens began committing suicide in record numbers. Since that time, prescription of antidepressants for average people is pretty much off the charts.

    I once thought that getting rid of the corporate mentality was the obvious easy answer. You know, kill your television, shop locally, be a conscious consumer. This is typical liberal and libertarian prattle.

    But I was caught off guard by my own lingering susceptibility to advertising in the form of food nostalgia. This lead to a later realization that much of what I valued or used as a cultural measuring stick ultimately corresponds back to commercialization and mass media. It's such an intrinsic part of who I am as an individual and an American, it almost seems comical to me now that anyone who was born in the United States or who was raised here for a significant part of their childhood could ever be psychologically distanced from commercialism.

    In fact it occurred to me that trying to completely eradicate it is a form of self loathing in an unconscious form, that being disconnected from it entirely could damage us equally or more as a nation psychicly than continuing to live with it.

    We will be fractured either way. We will be destroyed by that which nourishes us if we continue to tolerate it, but shutting it off completely, as in some kind of revolutionary or simply abrupt scenario would leave us with really nothing to call a culture.

    The commercials and mass media are our culture, or what passes for one. Without it we are a group of disjointed people with pervasive memories of symbols which will have lost their meaning.

    Without a more traditional national culture, this is all we have by way of what people used to glean from tribal customs and religion.

  2. #2
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    I think our national culture is also the story of immigrants, of hard work, of trying to provide something better for the next generation. Innovation. Melding of ideas and backgrounds. Optimism at tackling the unknown. Just listing out some good things that are part of the national psyche, beside the bad ones that you talk about.

    I guess I think of commercialism as one of the downsides of living in a more industrialized/Western country. Aren't most industrialized countries pretty commercialized as well?

    What is food nostalgia? Free range cattle?
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    That's rather depressing. But I agree with a number of things you say there Marm. Interesting thoughts.

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    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I think it’s the product of individualization happening alongside the Descartian glorification of ‘the objective’: instead of moving from identification with a group of people to an individualized ‘self’, the locus of the ‘self’ (where meaning exists) is still perceived to be in something external? …in *stuff*?

    [I feel like that's an outrageously oversimplified way of saying it, but that's basically a summary of the theories that I've read that make the most sense to me.]
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    I think our national culture is also the story of immigrants, of hard work, of trying to provide something better for the next generation. Innovation. Melding of ideas and backgrounds. Optimism at tackling the unknown. Just listing out some good things that are part of the national psyche, beside the bad ones that you talk about.

    I guess I think of commercialism as one of the downsides of living in a more industrialized/Western country. Aren't most industrialized countries pretty commercialized as well?

    What is food nostalgia? Free range cattle?
    I am talking about symbols, archetypes, and the sort of underlying cultural markers that give people a sense of their own tribe. Being a nation of immigrants, that's even more critical to building cultural unity.

    Food nostalgia is like when you eat Twinkies or M&Ms because you liked them when you were a kid. Association of good memories with certain foods. In America that association is usually marked by symbols that we find either familiar or exciting in the form of product branding. I found a great article written by a food writer on how Mr. Peanut or Green Giant vegetables imprint upon us, association that takes us beyond the food itself.

    The United States is by far the.most commercialized as a form of culture.

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    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    I don't see this as a problem. I think most people respond to commertialism with a bad reaction because it's big, ubiqutious, and can't be avoided. Ultimately, I just don't care. It will never stop. There are more important issues to deal with anyway.

    What I do care about is when companies are dishonest and mislead the public or choke choice (example: comcast). I don't see trying to make a pretty package to get people to buy something as dishonest though. Everyone does that. It's how people are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I think it’s the product of individualization happening alongside the Descartian glorification of ‘the objective’: instead of moving from identification with a group of people to an individualized ‘self’, the locus of the ‘self’ (where meaning exists) is still perceived to be in something external? …in *stuff*?

    [I feel like that's an outrageously oversimplified way of saying it, but that's basically a summary of the theories that I've read that make the most sense to me.]
    It's just that all the things that exist in any given culture...traditional foods, art, music, childhood memories..are linked to commercials. My bologna has a first name, it's Oscar. The movies you loved as a child, owned by Disney corp, not just a particular artist or director.

    Theme songs from 80s sitcoms.make me happy. To a child in a less commercial society, maybe such things would be associated with religious beliefs or folk music instead of NBC.

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    Your point is to embrace it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    I don't see this as a problem. I think most people respond to commertialism with a bad reaction because it's big, ubiqutious, and can't be avoided. Ultimately, I just don't care. It will never stop. There are more important issues to deal with anyway.

    What I do care about is when companies are dishonest and mislead the public or choke choice (example: comcast). I don't see trying to make a pretty package to get people to buy something as dishonest though. Everyone does that. It's how people are.
    Well that's what I originally thought too, that avoiding certain brands and alignment with the idea of ethical companies versus traditional profits monsters was the pragmatic way. Buy Lush instead of Maybelline.

    But the truth is the very essence of our culture is in what's being sold to us. It creates widespread cultural issues. Not just oligopoly and driving out small business, but creating an entire mindset that you are worthless or inadequate if you don't conform to shopping at certain stores or owning particular expensive items.

    It also creates the problem of people being psychologically attached to things that might harm them in the long run.

    Is anyone harmed because I used to watch The Facts of Life when I was five and saw Nestle commercials? ? Seemingly no. Until you realize I implicitly trusted Nestle because I saw them as a trusted brand before I formed critical thinking skills and so did thousands of other children, and we all bought or continue to buy Nestle, and then look at the damage they've caused GLOBALLY as a corporation.

    So then you have a neuroticism form about innocent childhood memories, and feel anxious when you should feel relaxed because you were just a pawn.

    And that's just Nestle.

    It's so complex, and part of the damage is the self loathing being told horrible things about your own culture.

    So there are the people who say fuck it I will shop at Wal Mart anyway, and then there's all that, with them driving out rural business, as well questionable business practices.

    It's like being in an abusive relationship. You can't live with it and can't live without it.

    Especially since people who do live without it, or were forced to as children, will probably on some level always feel like outsiders in their own country, which in young adults could affect social skills and dating.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmotini View Post
    I am talking about symbols, archetypes, and the sort of underlying cultural markers that give people a sense of their own tribe.
    We miss what is right under our noses.

    We moved from the traditional tribe to the literate individual, and now we are moving to the electronic tribe.

    Every time we sign on, we are moving deeper into the electronic tribe of Typology Central.

    Without our noticing, Typology Central is changing our sense ratios, our relationships, and our orientation, to fit us for the electric tribe.

    And this major operation on our psyche is being done without any commercialism whatsoever.

    As a fledgeling etribe we are changing our archetype voluntarily, instinctively, intuitively, without us even being consciously aware.

    This is the secret life of Typology Central.

    This is what keeps drawing us back again and again.

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