Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

Overview

"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 ...
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Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

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Overview

"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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Susan Faludi author of Backlash Jean Kilbourne's work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture: advertising. We owe her a great debt.

Self magazine Backlash meets The Beauty Myth....a scathing attack on the powers that tell us what, how much, when and why to buy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684866000
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/2000
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 208,952
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Kilbourne,Ed.D, is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on alcohol and tobacco advertising and the image of women in advertising. A widely published writer and speaker who has twice been named Lecturer of the Year by the National Association for Campus Activities, she is best known for her award-winning documentaries, Killing Us Softly, Slim Hopes, and Pack of Lies. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by Mary Pipher

Introduction: "A Girl of Many Parts"

The Making of an Activist

1 "Buy This 24-year-old and Get All His Friends Absolutely Free"

We Are the Product

2 "In Your Face...All over the Place!"

Advertising Is Our Environment

3 "Bath Tissue is Like Marriage"

The Corruption of Relationships

4 "Can an Engine Pump the Valves in Your Heart?"

Crazy for Cars

5 "Please, Please, You're Driving Me Wild"

Falling in Love with Food

6 "The More You Subtract, the More You Add"

Cutting Girls Down to Size

7 "Forget the Rules! Enjoy the Wine"

Alcohol and Rebellion

8 "What You're Looking For"

Rage and Rebellion in Cigarette Advertising

9 "The Dream Begins as Soon as You Open the Door"

Advertising an Addictive Mind-Set

10 "In Life There Are Many Loves, But Only One Grande Passion"

Addiction as a Relationship

11 "You Talkin' to Me?"

Advertising and Disconnection

12 "Two Ways a Woman Can Get Hurt"

Advertising and Violence

13 "Relax. And Enjoy the Revolution"

Redefining Rebellion

Notes

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    I had to read a chapter of this book for a politics of fashion c

    I had to read a chapter of this book for a politics of fashion class and
    shortly thereafter rented the book out of the library for months on end
    and then finally bought it myself. I would consider this necessary
    reading for anyone, males and females included. The current world is one
    dominated by advertising and what this book attempts to do is open eyes
    to WHAT it is the advertisements are attempting to sell, which most
    often is a certain lifestyle or characteristic that they link to the
    product and not the actual product function. This book is one of the few
    books I've read that I would consider genuinely life changing. That is
    to say, after every chapter I felt like my perception of the world and
    my experiences within it had to be re-evaluated. I'm not saying you
    should take everything she says as hard, unchanging truth, because one
    of the great things about this book is that it encourages the reader to
    think, to be mindful of their life and environment, and this ultimately
    (I believe) allows one to live happier than before. This definitely
    isn't an impartial book, but part of what makes it so interesting is the
    passion you can feel in the writing that Jean feels for the work she
    does and the topics she covers. Don't agree with her? Form your own
    opinion! But most importantly, look and THINK. I've recommended this
    book to friends, I've recommended it to family, and now I'm recommending
    it to the internet, because really, it deserves all the praise it can get.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2010

    Beware of Advertising

    We can't set foot out of the house without exposure to advertising, even if we don't watch TV, use the Internet, or read fashion magazines. Advertising is everywhere, from billboards and posters to clothing to shop windows. It is an inconvenient truth that we are indeed affected by advertising and commercialism, even if we don't believe it.

    This book is as much a psychology book as a sociology book. Using examples, statistics, interviews, and her own life experience, Kilbourne covers the connections between advertising and addiction. Ads talk directly to addicts in an attempt to make the addiction look like normal and accepted behavior. She addresses how we reach for material things in a futile attempt to find comfort. In an over-consumerist society that is destroying the planet, advertising encourages us to consume more and more and to replace interconnectedness, relations, and communication with material things. A car doesn't argue with you, so it's easier to buy a car than to communicate with people.

    Can't Buy My Love is a very important book for all Americans to read, so that they will be able to see advertising with a critical and conscious eye and not be fooled. It will also enable Americans to protect their children from the conditioning that advertisers, including those of the tobacco and alcohol industries, consciously attempt.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2004

    Cosmetic Psychology

    Jean Kilbourne has some important points to make in this book. Yet, thanks to her ability to use similar tactics of the ad industry to get her own agenda across, the inclination is to believe her rhetoric as much as her opponent's (i.e. the 'bad' ad industry). Were 'bad habits'and other disorders truly forced upon her by ads when she was young? And do they explain her own modus operandi now? Ads certainly may appeal to our own personal myths, aspirations and be useful tools to promote our own denial and insecurities. But their role as tools or mediums should not be confused with the actual agent or culprit in initiating and continuing deception and denial. Thus, reading her book gave me the impression that Kilbourne was still struggling -- trying to find her own way out of an all encompassing cosmetic world in which she actually, deep down secretively, believes too literally.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    Thought provoking

    I like to think I'm not greatly affected by advertising, especially since I've long given the media's presentation of women a critical eye. But as author Jean Kilbourne writes, many people think they aren't affected by advertising -- but advertising is everywhere and how can we really ignore it? Reading this book, with its many reproductions of ads -- lots of them shocking -- will increase anyone's awareness. Though at times Kilbourne is a bit too strident, I still highly recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2002

    Should be read by everyone

    This book should be read by everyone! Its that good. Don't think advertising affects you in any way? Think again, I didn't think so either until I read this book. Not only does advertising affect every person, but it affects our society in a bigger way than we think! She talks strategies ads do to get their message across, how its harmful, and how ads lie to us. She has pictures of ads in the book and analyzes them, but some of them are very sexual and really gross to look at. I'm very conservative so that's why I only give this book 4 stars.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2002

    Buy this book now

    This is the best book about the effects of advertising I have read. If you don't think that ads effect you, or that you just 'tune them out,' you need to read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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