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Seminar One - Study Task One

List the Ten most important points raised in Adam Curtis’s documentary ‘Century of the self’.
Relate these points to a critical analysis of one image from the mass media which, in particular, focuses on the nature of consumerism, desire and the unconscious. The advert can be something from now or could be a TV show etc. 

Think about the False needs, our actual desires, our instincts and Freud’s notion of the unconscious. You can use cigarette advertising if you wish...

10 Important Points Raised

1. Edward Bernays. 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. 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.

2. 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. Bernays was told by a PA that the cigarette was a symbol of the penis. He said that women could have their own penis by smoking, symbolically.

3. The women 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.

4. From this Bernays 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 emotional connection with a product.

5. The corporations realised that they had to change 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. He 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.

6. 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.

7. Saatchi & Saatchi's campaign for cigarettes in the late 80's  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 and 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.

8. Other Key Freudian Concepts are... Oral Fixation (nipple substitute), Vagina Denata and Penis Envy.


Critical Analysis of the Got Milk? Campaign 

I chose to focus on the got milk? campaign of adverts which was created by Goodby Silverstein and Partners in October 1993 and has spanned across 19 years in America,  proving to be one of the most successful and influential campaigns in American history. After looking into various different adverts of the 70's, 80's and 90's this particular campaign is the one that stood out the most to me to have Freudian concepts hidden away within it. After analysing the image on a deeper level, I can also start to unpick some of Bernays' concepts that have been used throughout the campaign successfully. 

The most obvious element within this advert is the milk on the top lip and the smashing bottle. There is obvious levels of desire and satisfaction when linking the milk to the mouth of an attractive female star.  This also directly relates to the 'Oral Fixation' that refers back to our feelings and experiences as children. There is a direct reference to the bond with our mother and in Freudian's terms, when we drink milk, we satisfy our sexual desire for our mother as well as mimicking the nipple. The glass of milk becomes the nipple substitute. 

When we start to look at the campaign on a more basic level, we see that the milk is representing a moustache and this is shown on both female and male stars used in the campaign. When trying to relate this back to Freudian terms, we see that the moustache could be seen as Penis Envy from the women used in the campaign. The moustache, in a way, represents the penis, the phallic of power, which women desperately desire. I also think that the 'milk moustache' can relate to Bernays' idea of women having power and independence by drinking milk. This time, instead of using cigarettes as the penis, the milk becomes the penis. On a more sexual level, the milk could be seen as semen around the womens lips which relates back to use of oral fixation and sex to help sell the product on both conscious and unconscious levels. 

When looking further into Bernays' ideologies about manipulating the masses, we can see that the most basic idea of using famous icons to sell the product is one of the reasons that the campaign is so popular. By linking the simple drink of milk into celebrity culture, this can raise the profile of milk. 

When reviewing the advert, it is clearly obvious that there are a number of different Freudian theories at work as well as concepts created by Bernays',  probably more than I can pick see and pick out myself. It is clear that the product is being linked to our feeling and desires as a child and through this creating an emotional connection between us and the advert which is key to it's consistent success in America. 

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