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Aug./Sept. '01 Articles:

Education?: Teaching Kids to Consume

Bush & Global Warming

Overpriced Musings:
This Is Your Mind on Autopilot

The K Chronicles

Challenge of the 'Wealth Gap'

Treating Pigs Like Swine

Save the Maggots

The Muddlemarch: 1

The Muddlemarch: 2

(music reviews)

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I love advertising. Without advertising, I would never know there was stuff out there that I could spend money on. The money I made would just pile up inside my apartment until I suffocated in my sleep. Advertising is a subtle reminder that I need to get rid of some of this money before it destroys me and my loved ones.

I'm referring to product advertising, of course. The "product" in question is the thing that is exchanged for money. They get money, and you get a cool new product. You can wear this product, hang it on your wall, or simply set it next to some other product you may have bought recently. The important thing is that you are now the owner of a product, and that should make you feel good. To amplify this feeling of sublime commerce, watch some ads that feature your product and see how much fun those people are having. Hey, cool product. Good job.

We all know advertising works. Even IMPACT uses advertising to pay for expenses. However, we seem to have forgotten that advertising can be used as a way to sell an idea as well as a product.

A recent news story told of a youngster who found an infestation of maggots in his McDonald's hamburger. This should be seen as a golden opportunity for all maggot advocates to use the power of advertising to make the maggot plight visible to the masses:

Narrator: See this meat patty? To you, it's a quick lunch. But to hundreds of maggots, it is their home.

Maggot (crying): All I know is that it got very dark, and then there was a lot of screaming, and then I couldn't find m' boy.

Other maggot: I don't understand what a person gains by eating someone's home, especially when it's a maggot home. I mean, look at us, we're fucking disgusting. I can't look in the mirror for more than three seconds without barfing all over myself.

Narrator: Over three million maggots are killed every year because of the meat industry. If we let this trend continue, eventually the maggots will die out, and so will the fly population. We need flies. I think. I'm sure they serve some kind of purpose. Cut to shot of Native American standing over hamburger, a single tear rolls down his cheek.

I'm not an advertising expert, but I fail to see the problem with using advertising in this manner. I've said before that I'm not anti-corporate, and I'm not, but I am against voices being silenced that should be heard. As a non-vegetarian, I welcome an ad that reminds me to periodically check my sandwich for larvae. I may never be able to come to grips with the fact that a restaurant chain run by a clown would allow such an atrocity, but now I know it is a possibility.

Slogans and icons stick in our minds easier than ideas, and when an idea is reduced to a symbol, it becomes cheapened. You see a lot of people wearing the Yin Yang symbol, but I'm sure only a handful know what it truly means. This handful of people would not include me, however. That's why I don't wear one.

The second you see the swoosh symbol, you think of Nike. If you've forgotten who made your shirt, it's likely that the company that made it has taken the liberty of putting their name on the front. This is where our culture stands, in a kind of corporate-sponsored quicksand that doesn't allow for the forging of new ideas or perspectives. Our vision is obscured by these symbols, and the intangible stuff that truly matters has to compete with this omnipresent force. According to a story by Dan Rubinstein on the Web site (see link below), word processors with spell check now include corporate names, which shows just how much they've infiltrated the lexicon. They're a part of our culture now, and while I once again must say that I'm not anti-corporate, I think it's a good idea to ask ourselves just how much of this infestation should be allowed. There doesn't seem to be a very thin line between a maggot in every hamburger and a Gap on every corner. We seem to accept either scenario without much hesitation.

Not everyone is an activist, and I don't think everyone needs to be. Just being aware of how advertising has infiltrated our culture is a huge step. The next step is to find those in-between places where human beings can once again communicate on a level that allows for real cultural growth and not corporate expansion. Once that common ground is found, we can begin giving all of our money to the Save The Maggots foundation.

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Other articles by Adam Finley: