Posted by: slee3324 | November 7, 2011

This is my time, so please quit bothering me

Recalling a comment made in class towards the beginning of the term, one student pointed out that people consume media as a means of relaxation, a way to “shut off” from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. It is no secret that a majority of the public spend a sizeable amount of our valuable “down time” consuming media, whether it is catching up on episodes of American Idol, curling up in bed with a favorite magazine, or streaming Pandora while enjoying an evening dinner and glass of wine. Media is our biggest form of entertainment. However, during this relaxation time, we cannot avoid constant bombardment by advertisements. Robert McChesney (2008) points out that as a result of overexposure, consumers have developed immunities to ads. This has led to a “commercial tidal wave” of increased advertisements (McChesney, p. 266).

Even if we wanted to avoid advertisements when we consume media, it is nearly impossible to do so. Advertisers have become smarter about their product placements, and often times it is difficult for consumers to distinguish between advertising motifs and traditional media content. An example of this is when news channels sell commercial airtime to organizations. Those commercial sponsors develop stories that look like real news stories and the news channels air these during actual news broadcasts. This is not only confusing to viewers but misleading because the content appears as legitimate news stories when in fact they are paid advertisements. So, not only do we struggle to find moments of relaxation between ads, advertisers have found a way to get at us during actual programming.

My questions around this fundamental dilemma are as follows:

  • Where is the line between real content and marketing messages? Does one really “own” their “free” time when it is used to consume media that is ultimately tainted by marketing motifs?
  • Who determines where corporations can advertise? When will Kindles have advertisements—or do they already?
  • What tolerance and say does society have about over saturation of advertising? What would parents do if advertisers targeted elementary schools or text books?

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