Wednesday, February 4, 2015

TV Consumerism/American Ideology: The Goldbergs and The Superbowl 

After watching the 49th Super Bowl and its accompanying commercials, I saw Spigel's reading in a new light. Spigel asserts that post- Great Depression television in the 40s and 50s served to demonstrate to the audience that consumerism/hedonism as an approach to life was not in fact immoral (77). TV programs such as The Goldbergs used imbedded advertising (much like we see today) in order to associate new products with traditional practices and behavior (77). In the episode we screened last class, Mrs. Goldberg greets us from the sill of her kitchen window and extols the wonderful effects of a particular brand of coffee, which happens to lack caffeine. She seemingly babbles on forever about the great qualities of the product lulling us into tacit agreement. It is obvious now that we are being "sold" something, however an audience at the time would have grown to associate the Goldberg family with tradition, family values and moderate good sense. If the coffee is this pleasing to Mrs. Goldberg, perhaps it is a smart purchase for me too?

This past Sunday's Superbowl was reportedly the most watched live televised event in American history. Each year the world wide "American" football championship draws hundreds of millions, some to watch the sport and others to glean pop culture fodder for water cooler conversation the next day at work. Regardless, as Americans, we are aware of the Superbowl whether we watch or not. Due to the massive audience, corporations flock to the Superbowl spending millions for fractions of a minute to broadcast creative, haunting, funny and outrageous ads in hopes of revenue spikes. The commercials have become less of a side show and more of a strong complement to the telecast. They are as much a part of the Superbowl experience as Mrs. Goldberg's window sill ads. Accordingly they serve to further promote the same consumerist/hedonist and often patriotic values that ads of the 1950's sought to support. Whether it's a naked blonde scarfing down a Carl's Jr. quarter pounder (sex sells, or a woman's right to profit off her body), McDonald's employees asking customers to "pay with love" (sentimentality and nostalgia), insurance companies capitalizing on creepy fears of accidental child deaths (honestly who knows), or Microsoft's cinematic and emotional ode to technology and progress (innovation and ingenuity of American corporations)... the ads coupled with the very American past time of watching the Super Bowl coalesce into one very big agenda pushing moment. It happens once a year and sustains the very traditional and fundamental aspects of our culture that channel the foundations of our capitalist society. 

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