From Publishers Weekly
Advertising, argues Twitchell (Carnival Culture), has become the lingua franca of American culture, supplying a common bond that links all Americans. However, he maintains, advertising does not shape our desires, but rather simply reflects our inherent materialism, a view he fails to convincingly support. Twitchell examines the history of magazines, radio and TV in light of the increasing power and prevalence of advertisements, claiming that it is naive not to expect advertisers to have a growing role in determining the content of the media they virtually subsidize. Twitchell only briefly discusses critics of advertising and mass culture, and while he takes issue with feminists' outrage at cosmetic advertising, he fails to substantially address the work of respected theorists of popular culture such as the Frankfurt School. In Twitchell's opinion, the role of advertising in our culture is comparable to that played by the church in Medieval Europe; and he also compares advertising's cultural centrality to that of art in the Italian Renaissance. While his portrayal of the power of advertising is persuasive, Twitchell fails in his self-consciously provocative attempt to claim that advertisements have a spiritual or aesthetic dimension remotely equivalent to that offered by religion or art.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Library Journal
Let others bray about the evils of commercialism and mourn its helpless victims, Twitchell (Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America, Columbia, 1992) exalts in the triumph of the culture of advertising: "We make our media. Our media makes us. Commercialism is not making us act against our better judgment. Commercialism is our better judgment." He compares advertising to religion, arguing that the investment of a sliver of bone with the spiritual authority of a saint is little different from the anointing of athletic shoes by a basketball star. Twitchell discusses the various strategies advertisers have used over the years to lure consumers to make a choice between products that are essentially the same, providing reproductions of hundreds of old advertisements that illuminate his arguments. At times his indifference to the effects of advertising and broadcasting deregulation is unsettling, particularly because the book assumes that there exists a dominant culture that all participate in equally and freely. But by and large this is a fresh, well-thought-out study that deserves a place in academic libraries.Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the