ABSTRACT

Advertising schools people, in both senses of the word. It is at once the bene­ volent schoolmarm of society that it purports to be, disseminating impor­ tant hand-washing information and, with it, new lists of germs that can be killed by Listerine. But advertising is also the player in the game who cold outmoves you and drives, despite all your arm waving, directly to the base line and the easy lay-up. Desire has been created, and you have been schooled. It is this arm-waving, passed-by, helpless feeling that the cultural critics on the Left seem to be avoiding when they, in their writing, accept the attitude that advertising-the literal and overt cultural stuff of the marketplace, the rhetoric of the showmen, and of the spectacle-is too poi­ sonous to touch. Advertising proper, addressed in cultural studies work, is mostly presented as an example of something too ludicrous to be taken seriously, or as something so evil that only its name, not its specific slogans, may be uttered.