Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture

Overview

A spirited exploration of the culture created when advertising becomes not just a central institution, but the central institution.

-Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising. . . . Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous ...

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Overview

A spirited exploration of the culture created when advertising becomes not just a central institution, but the central institution.

-Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising. . . . Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous conclusion. -Wired

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Editorial Reviews

Adweek

What are we to make of this mixture of high and not-so-high culture? 'If we find the process invigorating, you call it bricolage,'writes Twitchell. 'If not, you call it tasteless.'

Wired

Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising.... Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous conclusion.

New York Time Out

Twitchell is the beaming Koresh of Adcult.... Often amusing and illuminating, but always extreme -- just like advertising.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Twitchell has written a fine, thoughtful book demonstrating, in his own words, the 'undeniable and irrepressible vitality of commercial speech.´
Adweek
What are we to make of this mixture of high and not-so-high culture? 'If we find the process invigorating, you call it bricolage, ´ writes Twitchell. 'If not, you call it tasteless.´
Wired
Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising. . . . Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous conclusion.
Time Out
Twitchell is the beaming Koresh of Adcult. . . . Often amusing and illuminating, but always extreme -just like advertising.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 nave 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. (Jan.)
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"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231103251
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 2/6/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

James B. Twitchell is the author of many books, including Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America, and Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism, both published by Columbia.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz: American Culture Awash in a Sea of Advertising2. We Build Excitement: The Delivery of Adcult3. Strong Enough for a Man but Made for a Woman: The Work of Adcult4. Halo Everybody, Highlow: Adcult and the Collapse of Cultural Hierarcy5. Takes a Licking, but Keeps on Ticking: The Future of Adcult

Selective BibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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