Whoever buys the newspaper on Sunday knows about the numerous magazines generously presented with the newspaper. Of all these, lately the Sunday Circle caught my eye. Usually I leave it on my desk and remains their till Monday when it ends up thrown away for recycling. I really loathe the fact that I am being given a magazine full of adverts dictating every area of my life. However, lately my curiosity grew plenty and I decided to perform a small experiment.
Probably inspiration came from the geologist Kurt Wise who cut out all the verses from his Bible that conflicted with science according to him. My intention, though, was not to test the compatibility of Catholic faith with science but rather to see the effect of advertising. As most people know, the Sunday Circle is infested with advertisements, largely indoctrinating women about the type of clothes and underwear they should wear and having the perfect figure with a certain type of make-up, well-modelled breasts and feet of a certain type. We are all accustomed to this cliché.
Specific perfumes and amazing watches are the bait for men. So the idea was to cut out every page having adverts, and the ones left having an article on one side and an advert on the other ended up folded and stapled so that a article-only magazine remained. The result was terrible and disastrous!
Surely a magazine with some two to three full pages, various half-cut ones and mostly folded ones cannot be handled well. This is what we consumers are getting. A load of useless stuff being portrayed as being status-laden. Why do we only see adverts of Mexx, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Renault? Is it really true that these brands are the best? Or is it that a dark shadow of dependency and exploitation lie behind this media. Why does some brands have the power and wealth to indoctrinate us with their adverts while an average Turkish, Tunisian or Argentinian brand never features on the media. Through popular culture we have come to accept this indoctrination by these powerful companies and in turn we help them further their profits. When the average person, the working class or the middle class, is unable to cooperate with their agenda, a deep sense of relative deprivation emerges. We all know when we buy clothes or perfume from Armani, we’re paying a horrendous amount of money for some rich designer living comfortably in Paris, London or New York whose getting richer through our folly.
The question that arises is natural: how can this exploitation be curbed? Surely few, if any, would contest the notion that these brands, controlled by rich and powerful people, are exploiting both us and their workers in Third-World countries. When Professor Andre Gunder Frank formed his Theory of Dependence, he only considered how these multinationals exploit under-developed countries and base their wealth on their very under-development. As an socio-economic theory, there was no emphasis on the effect of all this advertising on people in developed countries. Being exposed to such large amounts of mind-boggling dictates on what to wear, what odour one should have, how should s/he look and even how his/her teeth should look can have deep effects on our personalities. We end up slaves of these brands and ignoring them can become quite difficult.
The task to boycott all these brands and their marketing endeavours is not an easy task. The force they exert on our minds and the way we think proves to be strong. As humans, we need to look within ourselves and see what real happiness may be. It may not be something utterly religious. Real happiness is a universal quest and certain things like friendship and acceptance by others are as sweet and pleasurable to an atheist as to a Christian.