How the Media Persuades

Over the summer we had to answer questions about commercials and soon I became painfully aware how materialistic our society is. Whether it’s turning on the T.V. or flipping through a magazine, one is guaranteed to see companies selling their products with a technique that I like to call, brainwashing. In all seriousness, companies lure the viewer into believing that they need the product, that the product will somehow enhance the viewer’s life.

But the way the companies go about doing so can at times be flat out appalling. For example, Diesel (a clothing line) has a clothing line called “Be Stupid.” Not only is the slogan itself insulting, but how the clothing is represented along with the clothing. One of their ads shows a girl in a school uniform posed on the steps of what appears to be a school, underneath the girls in hot pink bold lettering is “Stupid is Spreading.” The message that this sends to young girls is above and beyond frightening.

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It’s telling girls that having the right clothes, looking “cool”, and being stupid are what people really value in life. While the message from those particular types of commercials can be, and often are considered insulting to people, they also show how people are persuaded by what they see and hear. Teen girls buy these magazines that are full of ads like Diesel’s and start thinking that in order to fit in and be accepted that they have to dumb themselves down and become one big fashion icon because of what they see. But girls aren’t the only ones who are pressured to look the part and fit into the materialistic army our society creates. Companies like Abercrombie and Hollister pressure and persuade men to play the part as a masculine man by having a six pack and attracting women.

What happens is that those people who give in to the marketing ways start to lose sense in who they are because they’ve sold themselves short and became the type of person that’s portrayed in commercials and print ads. People are persuaded by what they see in the media. However, Cynthia Ozick talks about persuasion in essays. “When I am with Hazlitt, I know no greater companion than nature. When I am with Emerson, I know no greater solitude than nature.

” Said by Cynthia Ozick herself, is a great example of how essays can do the same thing as commercials only in different ways. Ozick explains how while she might not agree on a certain author’s point of view, she’s persuaded by their ideas because of the way they write, the voice they use to get their point across. “I may not be persuaded by Emersonianism as an ideology, but Emerson — his voice, his language, his music — persuades me.” Which is a lot like how commercials persuade people, for instance, if a person who doesn’t like animals comes across a commercial about adopting a rescued animal they may change their opinions because they’re persuaded by the innocence and helplessness that those specific commercials try to represented. The same goes for writing, like Ozick said, people can persuaded by what they read simple because of the way it was said, particularly in essays since essays are shorter and get a point across more quickly than novels. Ozick also brings up the point that both men and women write essays, which in a sense could imply that either male or female can persuade either or both genders to believe a certain topic.

While when people watch commercials the commercial is usually aimed towards a certain audience. Even though Cynthia Ozick acknowledges that essays have the power to persuade people she also touches base on how true essayists stay true to themselves and what they believe in. Unlike people in the commercial industry who are simply trying get their product sold whether they agree or disagree with what they’re selling, as long as it gets sold. According to Cynthia Ozick true essayists sell their beliefs. They write about their opinions on things and how they view certain topics verses marketing companies who will sell any idea that leaves money in their wallets.

It’s interesting to see how two different worlds (the marketing world and writing world) do the same job. Essayists sell and idea through the craft of writing, combined words and ideas to form a certain view point that if done successfully can persuade people to see things like the writer does. Commercial companies sell products through catchy slogans and what society likes to think of as attractive people. But no matter how one views it, it’s still persuasion, whether it’s with a string of words or a photo.