The Performance of Advertisements

While driving through Hollywood on my way to work, I was prompted to take this photo (while stopped in bumper to bumper traffic of course) because it triggered my memory of several important theorists that we have studied in this course. Goffman, Marx and Marcuse all came to mind as I watched these proletariats hanging off the side of a skyscraper on a rickety scaffold to replace the enormous advertisement from Activate Water to TV Land. This advertisement will likely generate money for TV Land, the actress displayed on the front, the owner of the building, and anyone else involved in the production of the show. I’m not sure how much these workers are paid but considering how much revenue is likely generated, I’m guessing they are not being paid nearly enough for all the risks that are involved in the work. Hence, it’s a great example of Marx’s theory on the exploitation of the worker to ensure that the capitalist makes a profit and the consumer continues fueling the vicious cycle of capitalism. 

Unavoidable advertising, like on the sides of buildings, ensures that the culture industry is always with us, deeply engrained in our heads as we drive to work for money  that we can use to then consume these objects. Marx’s object fetishism and Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man also support the idea that objects become part of us. As Goffman said, the most interesting time to observe impression management is the moment when the performer switches from the back to the front region. With this in mind, this advertisement is like a person delivering a performance. I was lucky enough to catch this performer in a moment of region blending which then takes away from the effect of the performance. I look at these multiple advertisements and see not the image of the culture industry but the effort of the Non-People that is necessary to keep this industry alive.

 

Questions

Do you think these workers are being exploited by this kind of work or are they simply doing what they agreed to do for the job?

In this photo you can see at least three different advertisements on the side of this building. Is this too much for the consumer to handle? Should there be restrictions on where and how advertisements can be displayed?

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