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Seminar One - Psychoanalysis & Consumerism

Psychoanalysis Re-Cap

Mary Kelly – Her Baby’s Development – Art Piece
Infants are very sexual beings who have desires. Which is wrong is western cultures to think about children in this way.

Oedipus Myth – Old Greek Story. Oedipus was the son of the king of troy in Greek mythology.

Dynamic Unconscious

Oedipus Complex

Castration Anxiety –  Boys envy their father because he has the phallus and the power and fear of getting castrated.

Penis Envy – Girls envy the fathers penis because they cant have sex with their mother.

Id, Ego & Superego

Ego --- is in the conscious personality of which you know something about but not everything.

Id --- represents biological instincts. Wanting to eat and sleep. Male and Female.  Primal Urges and desires to see something want it and get it. This could be sexual or just the desire to eat, sleep, fight and kill. Repressed and imprisoned in us which we don’t allow to come out. Uncontrollable and Infantile. Small children are walking Id’s. They will just shout something out, shit anywhere or steal. The id throughout life is controlled by the super ego.

Super Ego --- The manic controlling voice that teaches you that the Id is wrong. It is not just rational but also irrational. It uses methods like shame, guilt and self pity.

Conscious, Pre-Conscious, Unconscious

Documentary – The Century Of The Self

One: Happiness Machines

A theory of the emergences of American brand consumer culture and the way it was a tactic to control the public and their desires. It hits on Freud links his theory to consumerism.

Notes on the documentary

- The Corporations and Government uses Freud’s theory to control mass crowd.

- Edward Bernay’s. First person to take Freud’s ideas and manipulate the masses. Showing American corporations that they could link American goods to human desires and sales.

- Satisfying peoples inner selfish desires.

- 100 years ago Freud’s ideas were hated by the world. Embarrassing and anyone questioning the human mind and showing feelings was a threat to them.

- Freud Analysed dreams and he unearthed that humans have powerful sexual feelings that we repress because they are to dangerous. We picked these up from a historic animal instinct.

- Bernay’s main client was opera singer Caruso. He opened in Ohio and America announced they was entering the war between Germany and Austria. Bernays was employed by the American government in promoting the idea home and abroad

- Propaganda – War. Bernays wanted to use the propaganda used for war but change it for peace! Propaganda turned into a bad word so Bernay’s had to use a different way to go about this.

- At the end of the 19th Century, America was industrialized. Bernay’s turned to his uncles psychoanalysis theories. He wanted to make money by manipulating the unconscious. He played on the humans irrational emotions.

- His most dramatic experiment was to persuade women to smoke. At the time there was a taboo about women smoking in public being frowned upon, so the company asked Bernay’s to find a way about breaking it.

- For a large fee a PA told bernays that the cigarette was a symbol of the penis. He said that women could have their own penis by smoking, symbolically.

- The girls of an event protested by lighting ‘their torches of freedom’ being a cigarette. Bernay’s knew that the press would be there, so he promoted this phrase to encourage women to smoke. They could have FREEDOM! The women are ‘HOLDING UP THE TORCH’. This was all over the world by the next day.

- Bernays created the idea of a women smoking is more independent which is an idea that still exists today. From this he found that by linking products to people feelings and desires, this could increase the sales. Products could become a massive statement that somebody makes. The idea of an emotion connection with a product.

- The American industry was afraid of over production. Will people have enough goods to just stop buying?

- The corporations realised that they had to transport how Americans thought about products. They must shift American from a needs to a desire culture. Create a new mentality that a man’s desires should overshadow his needs. The man at the centre of this change was Bernays. The God of the physiological theory.

- Bernays created many techniques of mass production which we live with today. Such as linking products with famous film stars and also product placement. He dressed stars in clothes and jewellery linked to his companies so that the masses would have a desire to  be like their idols.

- “You all look the same on the street with the same clothes, same hats. Express yourself better in the way you dress.” “Why do you like short skirts.. Cause theirs more to see. It makes you more attractive.”

- Later Bernay’s promoted the idea that normal people should be able to buy shares using money from the bank and millions of people did this. Bernays became famous for knowing how to work the crowd. 

- In 1924 – US President Calvin Coolidge approached him. The press portrayed the president as a dull figure so Bernays persuaded famous film figures to visit the white house. This went on to create a headline of “The President nearly Laughed” and everyone was happy in Bernay's words.

- Bernays suggested that Freud should promote himself in the US. He asked him to write and article for Cosmopoliton but Freud disagreed and said he hated America.

- Freud later believed he had underestimated the aggressive tendencies in humans. He said men was the most ferocious animal of all and he hated all men. He was known to be a pessimistic man in his later years.

- The irrationality and the animality is the main drive of the mob. People were lead by their spines and not their minds. In the 1920’s wrote a book to claim he knew how to control the masses. He said that you could tap into the masses deepest desires to make them vote.

- In the 1920’s – a new idea of how to run democracy was in place.  The government would make people happy and docile to create a feel good factor which will not alter the circumstances but peoples outlooks on it. Bernay’s wanted to maintain the power over the masses by altering the publics physiological state even though their lives where the same.

Re-cap of the Documentary

- Governments starting to use this to make it more serious and political. The power of controlling people’s instincts is ceased upon by the government.

- Creating a false need for desirable objects to generate profit from the masses. The crisis of overproduction, producing too many goods. So making people believe they need these products that they have spare from production to keep the profit going.
- The American government created a system about tapping into peoples desires and tricked into buying these things to make a better life when actually it didn’t. The system creates wealth for the powers but not for the public.

- Democracy through consumerism. We believe that we are free because we can purchase different things such as a car, porn, clothing but that is a trick that has been laid down by PR. It’s like a drug that keeps us docile even though our lives are actually pretty shit. We are creating wealth for those in power but think that our needs are getting what we want which makes us temporarily happy.

Cigarette Advertisements

- “Torches Of Freedom” – Cigarettes overnight get turned into something women want because it represents independence, and freedom symbolically but will really give them cancer. This shows the strength of the irrational associations.

Marlborough Man

– Advertising Campain started in the 1950’s by Phillipo Morris.

- Smoking was now so poular with women in this time that some men considered smoking to be lady like so the Marlborough man was invented to make the images of him macho. The cowboy is macho and represents freedom, free roaming, shooting things, hunting and fighting.

Silk Cut – Saatchi & Saatchi – Late 80’s / Early 90’s

In the late 80’s early 90’s, there was governmental sanctuaries in Britain. They wasn’t allowed to sell tobacco by associated it with…

Glamour, Sport, Success in Business, Masculinity or Femininity, Also..

‘Advertisements should not seek to actively persuade people to start smoking.’ 

Silk Cut come up with the idea to associated smoking with hidden desires. Freud thought that Symbols in dreams represented subconscious emotions. They sold the product through the lifestyle – cup of tea and brandy. The price of the cigarettes are shown too.

The brand name ‘Silk Cut’ is smooth cut of the tobacco. Sophisticated and Luxurious. The problems Saatchi & Saatchi faced was that silk could be considered feminine. The cigarette was weak (low tar) so could be seen as feminine. They addressed this deliberately by using Freudian association to try and link the brand to instinctive unconscious desires.

They focussed on two hidden human impulses … EROS and THANATOS which is…

EROS – pro create, to have children, to be free, to live a full life,

THANATOS – the desire to kill, self destruction, mess everything up. Drug addictions and the rock and roll lifestyle are physiological connected to this. We know something is wrong but our ‘death’ instinct is taking over.

Everybody knows that smoking kills you but we still do it so it could be linked to our death drive. Is it possible to link the ‘sex’ drive to smoking.

Other Key Freudian Concepts are

- Oral Fixation (nipple substitute)

- Vagina Denata and Penis Envy

Obsure Adverts.

Advert 1 - Silk With Cut

- On a conscious level it is a piece of silk with a cut in it.

- On a subconscious level, the gash in the silk represents the vagina. So what is the penis? Is it the scissors or the knife that has cut the silk? Or is it the cigarette?

- The advert is marketed at males for the knife being forced into the silk in a sexual way. Playing on male domination.

Advert 2 -  Silk Cutting The Knife

- In the next one the silk cuts the knife which plays on the castration of the male.

Advert 3 - The Iron with Spikes

- The same concept. Housewife ironing the silk and the iron being the sumbolic penis.

Advert 4 - Scissors 

- The vagina Dentata – the view up with women’s skirt with the legs being replaced by scissors. 

Advert 5 - Shower 

- Reference to Hitchcock. The sexual desire to murder a hot movie star. Working on all sorts of levels.

Advert 6 - Bagpipes

- You blow into the bagpipes which can be read as a cigarette to blow and suck on but also references something else that could be shaped like a cigarette that you blow and suck on. The penis.

- Is the act of smoking linked to the act of felatio?

- The man traps on the floor represents the vagina shutting and chopping the penis.

Newport Cigarettes - Advertisement 

Alive with pleasure – Newport cigarettes. If smoking isn’t a pleasure then shy bother? As a man sticks a tube into a women’s mouth.

Further Notes from the rest of the documentary...

- 29 Oct 1929 - The market collapsed. The effect disastererous as people stopped buying goods they didn't need. Bernays fell from fame as did what he built. The effect was also massive across Europe. There was street battles in Austria and Germany. 

- Against this backdrop Freud was battling cancer in his jaw and wrote a book called civilasation and its contents. He argued that civilisation was created to control our animalistic needs inside. 

- Humans can't express themselves because it's too dangerous. we much be controlled.   

- March 1933, National socialists elected to power in Germany. They took control ofbusiness and workers leisure time was also planned through state. The Nazi's saw this as an alernative to the democracy to bind the nation together.

- Looking at mass crowds, Freud explained how the irrational behaviour inside human beings can emerge in such groups and forces of desire are given to the leader. Freud wrote this as a warning but the Nazi's were deliberately employing these ideas in order to control. 

- Crowds and Their Behaviour. And angry population too out their frustration on the corporations who who to them had caused this. 

- President Roosevelt (1960) employed Gallop and Roper who rejected Bernays' view and thought theat people could be trusted to have a voice with political situations of the country. People are rational and make good decisions. Giving everyone a voice in how things are run. 

- Business fought back to wins the heart of America. At the heart of this was Edward Bernays. The campaign shown that it was business not politicians who had produced modern American. He used billboards and newspapers to get the word out. The government fought back by making films against it saying their methods are a great danger to democracy. 

- In 1939, New York hosted the worlds fair. Bernays insisted that the theme was linking american democracy and business. There was a white dome that Bernays named 'Democracity'. The central exhibited was a large scale model of America's future. 

- It was a success and captured America's imagination. A form of Democracy in which business responded to citizens desires and demands which is something that the government could not achieve. The people are not in charge but their desires are. 

- In May 1938. Freud came to London on a work permit to escape Nazi Germany. His cancer was advanced and as the second world war started, 3 weeks in, he died.   

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