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DEADLY PERSUASION: Why Women And Girls Must Fight The Addictive Power Of Advertising Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684865998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684865997
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jean Kilbourne first gained prominence in the 1970s as the maker of Killing Us Softly, a documentary that detailed how the images of women in advertising were destructive for women in real life. In the years since, her thesis hasn't changed much, but the evidence supporting it has accumulated at an overwhelming rate. One of the first points that Kilbourne makes clear in Deadly Persuasion is that advertising does influence people, which is why newspapers and magazines engage in cutthroat competition to convince corporations to place ads in their publications, on the principle that their readership consists of the most valuable demographic. What appear in those ads, though, are images that equate emotional well-being with material acquisition; encourage women--beginning in their teenage years--to work at preserving the one "right" look; and associate rebellion and independence with the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

Kilbourne is militant on these issues, and some readers may find her positions a bit too extreme, as when she lambastes ads that employ surre alism for imitating a drugged state of altered consciousness or when she declares that most sexual imagery in advertising is "pornographic," elaborating in such a way as to denigrate the very idea of casual sex. And, despite several attempts at grim sarcasm, Deadly Persuasion is ultimately rather humorless. Kilbourne's heart, though, is definitely in the right place, and her demonstration of the extent to which we allow corporations to shape our desires is truly eye-opening. --Ron Hogan

From Publishers Weekly

No longer confined to 30-second TV spots and newspaper and magazine columns, advertisements now find their way into movie plots (as product placements) and high school lessons, onto municipal buses, sports scoreboards, clothing and even food. Kilbourne, best known for her documentary film work (Killing Us Softly; Pack of Lies), has extended her anti-advertising crusade into print in a profound work that is required reading for informed consumers. She adeptly illustrates that advertising encourages buyers to lavish affection on products rather than on other people, and pitches these trivialized relationships most fervently to girls and women. Worse, according to the author, addictive products are touted as outlets of expression and rebellion and are advertised to an increasingly younger demographic. She writes, "Advertising doesn't cause addictions. But... [it] contributes mightily to the climate of denial in which relationships flounder and addictions flourish." Drawing on a combination of psychology, feminist critique and media studies, Kilbourne cites numerous ads that downplay romantic commitment or healthy self-esteem in order to sell these qualities through products like backpacks or diet pills. She exposes the way advertisers take advantage of women's and girls' stifled feelings of rage and loss of control, and cause gender stereotypes to flourish. Likely to spark intense controversy, Kilbourne's passionate treatise is a wake-up call about the damaging effects of advertising in our media-saturated culture.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It was fascinating, clear, and well-researched.
T. Grasso
I really recommend everyone read this book, whether it be for academic purposes or for leisure reading...
Dora
My eyes were opened in unexpected ways, and I learned a great deal from the book.
E. M. Carey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Carey on June 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Deadly Persuasion is one powerful book, and I certainly will never look at advertisements the same way again. This is a very well-thought out, well-supported account of how advertisers sell products by appealing to the socially-consctructed insecurities of girls and women, as well as the habits and patterns of addicts. She also clearly expresses her hypothesis that while she doesn't think that ads turn people into addicts or completely shape society, they do have an effect on how we see the world and on how addicts can maintain a state of denial.
One of the best aspects of the book is her use of real ads that illustrate without question the points that she makes. And looking at many of those that I've seen hundreds of times, I felt quite dumb for not really picking up the subtext or looking critically enough at them. The blatant manipulation in many of them is enough to turn me off any number of products for life.
Although I unhesitatingly give this book the highest rating, I must admit that in her conviction Kilbourne is sometimes repetitive, sometimes taking a point ever so slightly too far. But all in all, I find it a quite fair indictment of the advertising industry and its influence on consumers. As a former addict herself, Kilbourne is qualified to judge some aspects of advertising in a unique way, and her most frightening insight is that alcohol and tobacco advertisers understand addiction too, and use this knowledge to create and keep consumers from a very young age (their consumers have a nasty habit of dying off and they need to continuously create new buyers - internal communications from tobacco companies shows this to be a conscious act).
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Bakari Chavanu on July 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I discovered this work in the bookstore, I immediately purchased it. I had been using Kilbourne's video "Still Killing Us Softly," in my 11th grade classroom for a few years now. I and my students found her analysis and examples to be eye opening and honest. What her new book does is update her analysis of how women are objectified in advertising. Perhaps if you thought advertising has changed in it representations of women, Kilbourne clearly shows you it hasn't. She provides a plethora of contemporary examples that expose well a culture that puts a lot of its demands on women to look sexually beautiful. I use her work, and now her new video Still Killing Us Softly III, in my classroom because it's very much needed to help my students understand ways that the media and advertising help to maintain, shape, and reshape gender stereotypes. Her analysis helps to show how this culture of "beauty" can often lead to discrimination and the marginalization of women (and men) who don't fit the media constructions of beauty. I recommend this book for any teacher doing media literacy in the classroom. It's well written, well researched, and the last chapter brings forth the type of political analysis missing in much of media education.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Please read this book and apply it to your daily life and that of your family. We are awash in a sea of advertising that makes us believe that we can only be happy if we buy something. This book explains how relationships with people are discounted as unnecessary to happiness and replaced with relationships to things and how advertising objectifies all of us. I highly recommend this book to all parents concerned about what their children are exposed to in school, at home, everywhere.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dora on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After Jean Kilbourne lectured at my high school, my entire view on pop culture and the media turned around completely. Other students felt the same way; many quit smoking the very day she came. Previously our school had tried various attempts at stopping them from smoking, but nothing got through before Ms. Kilbourne. She was able to get through to many of the students without even saying, "don't smoke". She was a very influential and convincing speaker, and I was not surprised to read that she was also this way as a writer. Reading this book was an intense experience. My eyes constantly widened at things I had not known. Both as a lecturer and as a writer, Jean Kilbourne has taught me so much. This book would serve well as a textbook because there is so much to learn from it, and yet it is vividly and animatedly written. I really recommend everyone read this book, whether it be for academic purposes or for leisure reading...
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found this book utterly fascinating. My educational background is in sociology, political science, education and counseling psychology, and for several decades I've been both fascinated and appalled by the power the advertising media have over our culture. I have never seen anyone talk so lucidly about this vital subject before. Bravo!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A thoughful and revealing book that takes a look at the myriad of commercial images we see everyday, and challenges us to stop and say, "Wait a minute, what does that imply? What am I being told?" Kilbourne's passion for this topic is evident, and some might say that some of her ideas are a little extreme. But as a rocovering alcoholic and smoker, she has valid perspective, and her overall position is balanced. The final chapter where she outlines the changes that can be made in society to remedy the problem of advertizing is a refreshing change from other books of this genre that ideantify the problem, but seldom give any solutions.
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