Catalogue


Adcult USA : the triumph of advertising in American culture /
James B. Twitchell.
imprint
New York : Columbia University Press, c1996.
description
xiii, 279 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0231103247
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Columbia University Press, c1996.
isbn
0231103247
catalogue key
1588749
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [255]-262) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1995-12-18:
Advertising, argues Twitchell (Carnival Culture), has become the lingua franca of American culture, supplying a common bond that links all Americans. However, he maintains, advertising does not shape our desires, but rather simply reflects our inherent materialism, a view he fails to convincingly support. Twitchell examines the history of magazines, radio and TV in light of the increasing power and prevalence of advertisements, claiming that it is naïve not to expect advertisers to have a growing role in determining the content of the media they virtually subsidize. Twitchell only briefly discusses critics of advertising and mass culture, and while he takes issue with feminists' outrage at cosmetic advertising, he fails to substantially address the work of respected theorists of popular culture such as the Frankfurt School. In Twitchell's opinion, the role of advertising in our culture is comparable to that played by the church in Medieval Europe; and he also compares advertising's cultural centrality to that of art in the Italian Renaissance. While his portrayal of the power of advertising is persuasive, Twitchell fails in his self-consciously provocative attempt to claim that advertisements have a spiritual or aesthetic dimension remotely equivalent to that offered by religion or art. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 1996-05-01:
During the past few decades, advertising has been vilified by critics even as its influence expanded, bolstered by mass media. From Vance Packard's Hidden Persuaders (1957) to E.D. Hirsh's Cultural Literacy (CH, Jul'87), advertising has been derided as the lowest form of rhetoric, puerile pap aimed at creating a cult of wide-eyed, witless consumers. Here Twitchell offers a refreshing rereading of advertising's power to amuse, entice, and potentially enhance--rather than destroy--modern culture. According to the author, not since the Roman Catholic church has there been an institution "so responsible for conveying not the best that has been thought and said but the most alluring, the most sensitive, and the most filled with human yearning." Twitchell raises advertising to the status of myth, its goal to satisfy a need as spiritual as it is materialistic. The advertising industry employs modern bards, who convey the truths of a culture as they cater to its cravings. Twitchell's thesis is provocative, his prose playful yet direct. Recommended for professional and academic audiences alike, although beware: Twitchell delights in dismissing the "balderdash of cloistered academics." Marxists lacking a sense of humor should avoid this book. P. D. Schultz Alfred University
Appeared in Library Journal on 1996-01:
Let others bray about the evils of commercialism and mourn its helpless victims, Twitchell (Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America, Columbia, 1992) exalts in the triumph of the culture of advertising: "We make our media. Our media makes us. Commercialism is not making us act against our better judgment. Commercialism is our better judgment." He compares advertising to religion, arguing that the investment of a sliver of bone with the spiritual authority of a saint is little different from the anointing of athletic shoes by a basketball star. Twitchell discusses the various strategies advertisers have used over the years to lure consumers to make a choice between products that are essentially the same, providing reproductions of hundreds of old advertisements that illuminate his arguments. At times his indifference to the effects of advertising and broadcasting deregulation is unsettling, particularly because the book assumes that there exists a dominant culture that all participate in equally and freely. But by and large this is a fresh, well-thought-out study that deserves a place in academic libraries.-Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising.... Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous conclusion." -- Wired
"Twitchell has written a fine, thoughtful book demonstrating, in his own words, the 'undeniable and irrepressible vitality of commercial speech.'" -- Philadelphia Inquirer
Twitchell is the beaming Koresh of Adcult.... Often amusing and illuminating, but always extreme -- just like advertising.
"Twitchell is the beaming Koresh of Adcult.... Often amusing and illuminating, but always extreme -- just like advertising." -- Time Out, New York
What are we to make of this mixture of high and not-so-high culture? 'If we find the process invigorating, you call it bricolage,'writes Twitchell. 'If not, you call it tasteless.'
"What are we to make of this mixture of high and not-so-high culture? 'If we find the process invigorating, you call it bricolage,'writes Twitchell. 'If not, you call it tasteless.'" -- Adweek
Twitchell eloquently excoriates the standard dull rants about the evils of commercialism. In true postmodern fashion, he argues that there can be no meaningful division between high art and advertising.... Not a single page is without a cleverly turned sentence, thought-provoking remark, or outrageous conclusion.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, October 1995
Booklist, December 1995
Publishers Weekly, December 1995
Library Journal, January 1996
Choice, May 1996
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
-- Philadelphia Inquirer
Table of Contents
Preface
Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz American Culture Awash in a Sea of Advertisingp. 1
We Build Excitement the Delivery of Adcultp. 53
Strong Enough for a Man but Made for a Woman the Work of Adcultp. 109
Halo Everybody, Highlow Adcult and the Collapse of Cultural Hierarchyp. 179
Takes a Licking, but Keeps on Ticking the Future of Adcultp. 229
Selective Bibliographyp. 255
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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