Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture

By Alex S. Edelstein | Go to book overview
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ADPROP Appropriately Cool!

For at least half a century, a debate has raged over whether advertising is or is not propaganda. Advertising was considered to be propaganda because of its tendencies toward mass deception and exploitation, yet it also provided information on behalf of socially important causes and helped satisfy personal needs, which deemed it not to be propaganda. This book argues, of course, that we are observing propaganda in both instances, but in some cases we are addressing oldprop and in other cases the new.

In the 1990s we no longer have a mass society with a uniform state of vulnerability to mass advertising. Instead, the popular culture is characterized by diversities of generations, of tastes, of interests, and of statuses. Adprop is the child of those diverse needs. It is no longer necessary to judge if adprop exists, or if it is good or bad, only how functional or dysfunctional it is for individuals.

The bases for judging the welfare and opportunities of an individual have shifted dramatically in the 1990s. At one time, birth and family were the primary bases on which individuals were judged, and although those criteria still exist today, they are rivaled in importance by achievement and diversity. Adprop has provided members of the popular culture with a choice of images they can adopt to certify their achievements and enhance their reputations.

This is not an easy obligation for adprop to fulfill. Where in a mass society there were dichotomies between young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, these differences are now suffused. Mass adprop, as we once knew it, has much less of a place. Instead, there has emerged a need for the segmenta


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Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture
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