Thursday, February 16, 2006

buy this product and become more unique

on tuesdays and thursdays, i teach com 201 -- intro to communication. with 95 students, it's supposed to be run as a lecture but i teach it as sort of a discussion class. whether it's music or television, film or internet, the students have so much to say, so much to ask, so much to answer, so much to imagine. i love this class.

this week we've been discussing advertising. we've covered basic persuasion strategies (celebrities, normal joes and janes, bandwagon effect) and various associational principles (buy this product and get laid, buy this product and be more natural, buy this product and become more unique). we also talked about advertising in a digital age, where our purchase habits fuse with our browsing habits, where our fashions and fetishes collide.

the only problem today was that we didn't have enough time. i'm still curious to hear from the students about what they think about advertising, what they think about commodities, and, most importantly, what they think about consumer culture. what does it mean when who we are is, we are told, what we buy? what does it mean when our ideas and beliefs -- our ideologies -- can be summed up, we are told, by what shoes we wear or what deodorant we use? what does it mean when we present our more general and specific identities via stuff: stuff we buy, stuff we buy that we can't afford, stuff we buy only to discard in a matter of weeks.

two class periods on something as complex as consumer culture just isn't enough time.


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