What society and culture have taught us is that the very items and classes we strive to either have or aspire to be a part of, through products have been specifically and meticulously predesigned for us. What learn from the media is that no decision is inherent to free will, and the choices we are given each day are controlled by a master tastemaker. As a society we are manufactured to believe new is better and that technology can make our lives and day to day tasks easier. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements whether it be on apps on our phones, posters on billboards, or flyers in the street. In the world around us it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape the capitalist grasp and bubble we are placed in by advertising companies trying to sell us a product.
A good example of this and how society effects each individual is the movie The Truman Show. Although we are not part of a live-in movie from birth like he was, we a part of a larger system that engages us to believe that we have choices. Everything in the movie that was placed in front of Truman was not a choice, but was designed and structured so that he thought he had free will; a dilemma we face today. We everyday play the role of the viewing audience in the movie who saw the product placed in Truman’s life and mind numbingly bought them because it was a part of his life.
In the opening of chapter 2 of Practices of Looking it examines ” how images have what we call dominant or shared meanings. They can be interpreted and used in ways that do not conform to these meanings. Rather an image speaks to specific sets of viewers who happen to be tuned in to some aspect of the image such as style, content, the world it constructs or the issues it raises.”
The media plays a big role in our everyday lives and it is easy to overlook the impact it has on us. In John Berger Ways of Seeing we examine the treachery of images and try to distinguish what we are seeing, and what is reality. In society it is sometimes hard to differentiate that everything we see is not the truth. The representation and the use of language and images do not reflect the ideals of the world neither a portrayal of exactly how it is. Pop culture is what usually dictates the rules and the social construct in which we live. The depiction of glamorous and gorgeous women in bikinis modeling jewelry, to commercials with young bachelors driving fast cars dictate that if we purchase these products our lives will be almost as care free as theirs.
Another idea Berger looks at is the power of an image. The power of an image can be subjective, objective, or can evoke emotions. When we see a picture of a third world country, or even a impoverished group of individuals in the United States, we are easily drawn to help those in less fortunate positions than ourselves. Hurricane Katrina is a good example of a spectacle and how the media portrayed that all hope was lost in New Orleans. Infomercials and news reports subliminally gave the message that it is our duty as American citizens to help.
As a monetary driven society it is hard to distinguish which advertising campaigns have hidden agendas. They’re campaigns are designed to promote products as universal and that they would be beneficial in order to fit in the world around us. The Crowd article sums it up the best. “Universal symptoms, visible in a all nations, shows us the rapid growth of the power of the crowds and do not admit of out supposing that it is destined to cease growing at an early date. Whatever fate it may reserve for is, we shall have to submit to it. All reasoning against it is a mere vain war of words.”