The Klosterman piece about laugh tracks was a great indicator of one of the many shameless tactics that mass media uses to manipulate its audience to feel a certain way towards their product. In his case, television shows that use “canned laughter” to convince the audience that what they are showing is funny. Another example of a manipulative tactic that I have found equally prominent and annoying is the widespread use of celebrities to endorse some of the most trivial objects.
It seems that nearly all of the most popular products, no matter what type it is, are endorsed by a well-known social figure. Many times I find myself thinking how completely irrelevant the association is, but at the same time I am ultimately being sucked in to their relentless psychological conditioning tricks. For example, when I think of K-Swiss Tubes, it will be like training with Kenny Powers and Jeremy Shockey. I’ll be strong, fast, powerful.
When I see a Subway, I’ll be eating like Michael Phelps (who can do this). Sub sandwiches must be super healthy and will get me in shape. Will either of these products actually give me a competitive edge? Absolutely not. This is so blatantly obvious that it disturbs me to have the thought of it significantly enhancing my life cross my mind– and it does.
It should not be surprising that this manipulative method works as well as it does. These messages can be so repetitive that it seems like there is no way to escape their reach. The more you see the product next to the person, your mind will naturally become accustomed to that association; as mentioned earlier, this is simply basic psychology. Let’s face it, television and advertisement viewing is generally a very passive activity, so we become extremely easy targets for the media to direct its relentless propaganda.
Similar to the laugh tracks that were discussed in the Klosterman piece, there is not much that the audience can do to escape this form of manipulation– advertisements are going to continue to do this whether we like it or not, and we are forced to accept it. Most of the time changing the channel will only bring you to another ad, and even if you mute the television you can still see the celebrity smiling next to their sandwich or their shoes or (insert product here). The best option for the audience is just to be aware of these manipulative tactics that that are forced upon you via mass media. Be sure to look at the product for what it is, rather than what celebrity is (probably not really) using it.