Take It From Me: Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes The Way We Think & Feel - REVIEW

January 24, 2014

Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes The Way We Think & Feel - REVIEW

"When was the last time you felt this comfortable in a relationship?" 
-- An ad for sneakers 
"You can love it without getting your heart broken." 
-- An ad for a car 
"Until I find a real man, I'll settle for a real smoke." 
-- A woman in a cigarette ad 

"Many advertisements these days make us feel as if we have an intimate, even passionate relationship with a product. But as Jean Kilbourne points out in this fascinating and shocking exposé, the dreamlike promise of advertising always leaves us hungry for more. We can never be satisfied, because the products we love cannot love us back. 
Drawing upon her knowledge of psychology, media, and women's issues, Kilbourne offers nothing less than a new understanding of a ubiquitous phenomenon in our culture. The average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements a day and watches three years' worth of television ads over the course of a lifetime. Kilbourne paints a gripping portrait of how this barrage of advertising drastically affects young people, especially girls, by offering false promises of rebellion, connection, and control. She also offers a surprising analysis of the way advertising creates and then feeds an addictive mentality that often continues throughout adulthood."

Our society faces many problems (high divorce rate, violence, alcoholism, drugs). In Jean Kilbourne's book she shows just how advertising aids in the creation of these problems.

She shows how advertising often turns people into objects and vice versa, especially with women. Advertising often dehumanizes a women's body and turns it into an object. This is a long quote from the book but it is so enlightening I had to include it:

"It is becoming clearer that this objectification has consequences, one of which is the effect that it has on sexuality and desire. Sex in advertising and the media is often criticized from a puritanical perspective - there's too much of it, it's too blatant, it will encourage kids to be promiscuous, and so forth. But sex in advertising has far more to do with trivializing sex than promoting it, with narcissism than with promiscuity, with consuming than with connecting. The problem is not that it is sinful, but that it is synthetic and cynical. (...) We never see eroticized images of older people, imperfect people, people with disabilities. The gods have sex, the rest of us watch - and judge our own imperfect sex lives against the fantasy of constant desire and sexual fulfilment portrayed in the media. (...) We can never measure up. Inevitably, this affects our self-images and radically distorts reality. "You have the right to remain sexy", says an ad featuring a beautiful young woman, her legs spread wide, but the [implied] subtext is "only if you look like this". And she is an object - available, exposed, essentially passive. She has the right to remain sexy, but not the right to be actively sexual."

This book is also valuable because it shows logically the principle that there are no shortcuts to riches or happiness. Nothing truly good and lasting is free, it comes through hard but nonetheless fulfilling work.
"Today the promise is that we can change our lives instantly, effortlessly - by winning the lottery, selecting the right mutual fund, having a fashion makeover, losing weight, having tighter abs, buying the right car or soft drink. It is this belief that such transformation is possible that drives us to keep dieting, to buy more stuff, to read fashion magazines that give us the same information over and over again."

I really feel that this book should be a required read for every person, although its topics are primarily about women, the education contained within is relevant to all. The only thing I wished when reading this book is that I had been able to read it at a much younger age.
You can buy Can't By My Love HERE.
Disclosure: I received a complementary product to facilitate this post, I was not compensated.  All opinions are my own.

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