Saturday, 20 October 2012

Century of the self: Study task 1


List the ten most important points raised in Adam Curtis’s documentary ‘Century of the Self’

Relate these points to a critical analysis of one image from the mass media which, in particular, focuses on the nature of consumerism, desire and the unconscious. 


1. Freud's American nephew, Edward Bernays was the first person to take Freuds ideas about human beings and use them to manipulate the masses. There was an aim for all consuming domination. Bernay's had a had a huge impact on the 20th century, he was more famous then than he is today. 

2. Bernays showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn't need by linking mass produced goods to unconscious desires. From this there would be a new political idea about how to control the masses. By satisfying people's inner selfish desires to make them happy. This was the beginning of ''The all consuming self''. 

3. Freuds ideas about how the mind works had became an accepted part of society in America, whereas 100 years ago human psychoanalysing was hated by Viennan society as it was seen as a threat to their self and their mind control. People had the power and selling your self was not allowed/ seen acceptable in society, Freuds ideas where noted as embarrasing and the idea of anayslising someones inner feelings would destroy the self created empire if you let your feelings out.

4. Freuds method for exploring the hidden parts of the mind known as today as the unconscious, his findings whilst psychoanalysing peoples dreams and repressed thoughts where shocking as he believed that the mind had a link to our old selves, he thought there was an animalistic drive in all humans and that aggressive behaviour was a lead by it. Freud stated that humans were like animals driven by the spine over the mind. 

5. American announced that they would be entering war with Germany and Austria, this act is exactly what Freud was referring to 'the animalistic drive' the desire to fight, harm or kill other beings is and aggressive nature within humans that was put to use. Freud also stated that these drives and desires were worse when humans were in large groups - an army of soldiers were more dangerous as a pack as apposed to one soldier. Freud began to believe that man was an impossible and bad species.

6. After the war, propaganda was known as a negative word as the Germans over used it, it was decided that the for the word should be renamed - public relations, it was seen as more positive and appropriate for the people. Bernays became a public relation officer and his determination was to change the peoples mind set.

7. Bernays set out to experiment with the minds of the popular classes. His most dramatic experiment was to persuade woman to smoke, at the time there was a taboo against women smoking. George Hill, president of American tobacco corporation employed Bernays to find a way of breaking the taboo of women smoking in public. Bernays was to identify what the cigarette meant to women symbolically. 

8.  AA. Brill was one of the first leading psychoanalyst in America, for a large fee he told Bernays that cigarettes were a symbol of the penis and of male sexual power. He told Bernays If he could find a way of connecting cigarettes with the idea of challenging male power more women would smoke because then they would have there own penis. The encouragement to smoke through the women's liberation movement in the United States. The phrase 'Torches of freedom' was the idea of liberty, holding the torch of freedom, for a woman holding a cigarette would mean exactly that. It was irrational that women smoked, they were purchasing for an engagement, an emotional connection. The advertising tactic was to shift America from need to desire, Bernays had to appeal to the masses.

9. Strategy of of social control was the key. Bernays tapped into the peoples deepest desires and fears and fulfilled them to their advantage. Managing the masses would happen by shaping a new mentality in America, mans desires must over shadow his needs - 'feel good medication'. Bernays brought to the table the relation from power to containing products, the people wanted as apposed to needing most of what they bought. Bernays's job was to create the new type of customer, he introduced celebrity culture in advertising by using product placement, celebrities would sell the message 'you bought things not just for needs, but to express your inner sense of your self to others'. 

10. The growing wave of consumerism, helped to create a stock market, and Bernays became involved promoting the idea that ordinary people should buy shares borrowing money from banks he represented, millions followed his advise. Bernays thought about people in groups of thousands never as individuals, so the affect he had on people was always huge. Benays became famous as he was the man who understood the minds of the crowd.


Image from the mass media which focuses on the nature of consumerism, desire and the unconscious. 


Dolce & Gabbana 



Notes about the D&G advertisement:

- Male domination, female is out numbered
- Female is over looked by peering males
- Sexual attraction and desires 
- Portraying a sexual act, fantastical 
- Submissive female
- No gaze apparent from female, her eyes aren't looking at the viewer
- Female is centre of attention, all eyes are on her

image source:http://www.designyourway.net

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