Television and Commercialism

Television is populated with images which are superficial and lack depth.
Programs look more like ads and ads look more like programs. All this leads to
a close circle of consumerism. The three excerpts relate to these unifying
ideas thus the validity of their argument.
"Surface is all; what you see is what you get. These images are proud
of their standing as images. They suggest that the highest destiny of our time
is to become cleansed of depth and specificity altogether." (1). We live in a
world populated by images. Children\'s television has concocted small, preset
groups of images such as rainbows for happiness, red hearts for warmth, unicorns
for magical regeneration, and blondness to indicate superiority ( 2). Images
are just that—images which keep the viewer on a superficial level. For instance,
in the program Sailor Moon, little girls are kept on a level of clothes and
being cute for boys. This is a very unrealistic outlook and short circuits any
thoughts of importance in their lives. Barbie, the Mattel doll, also portrays a
false image. With her petite, fragile figure, large bust, tiny waist, long legs,
big eyes, and vast career ranging from a lifeguard to a doctor, Barbie wins the
hearts of many innocent little girls who become subjected to her unrealistic
Most often in television there is no depth beyond the surface, what you
see is what you get. This is very prominent in children\' s television, where
without the special effects in action- adventure shows, all that is left are
shows that lack enthusiasm. For example, many children\'s programs are alike.
They often involve very innocent, sweet, high-voiced creatures that live in
happy land. They are threatened by bad people who capture one of the happy
creatures. However they are rescued on the end and everyone lives happily ever
after. In response the viewer experiences the emotion of feeling "happy."
These programs allow for a quick emotional response but no deep response that
permits you to go past the surface.
However, television allow us to see further at times such as a program
about black Americans discovering their roots. Yet shows like this are far and
few between. Most of the time, we only see what\'s on the surface which focuses
on what society already knows or what they (writers) think we need or want to
know (3).
"Television, with all its highly touted diversity, seems to becoming
more of a piece, more a set of permutations of a single cultural constant:
television, our debased currency." (4). TV looks like TV and when you look at
it deeper it takes you back to itself, this is referred to as homogeneity. "But
even as television becomes television—plus, it remains the national dream
factory, bulletin board, fun house mirror for distorted images of our national
desires and fears...And yet non of the metaphors seems quite right, because
finally television is not quite anything else. It is just—television." (5).
Ads are becoming to look more like programs with the use of narrative
strategies called "mini- narratives." This strategy is used in a particular
Pepsi commercial which models the TV show Miami Vice. It features Don Johnson
and the music of Glenn Fry. It is almost as if the commercial is a three minute
episode of the show. Similarly programs are beginning to look like ads. When
Price Adam pulls out his sword in the show He-Man, he is encircled with lively,
lightning flashes as he shouts in a deep, echoing, voice, "By the power of
Grayskull... I have the power!" He then transforms into He-Man . This appears
to be a commercial for the He-Man action figure and sword of power. There is a
history behind program—length commercial. A cartoon Hot Wheels , which is also
the name of a line of cars made by Mattel, was aired on ABC in 1969. One of
Mattel\'s competitors, Topper, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) stating that the show was a thirty- minute commercial. The FCC
agreed stating that during the program, Mattel was receiving a commercial
promotion for its product beyond the allowed time for commercial advertising.
Both ads and children\'s television generally have minimal plots which
contribute to the lack of depth . In kids TV there is more focus on visual and
sound effects, pyrotechnics and a recognizable theme song. "Plots repeat each
other from one show to another, no matter who produces them. Whether aimed at
little girls and syrupy sweet, or at little boys and filled with "action"
sequences in which the forces of Good triumph, however provisionally, over the
forces of