Advertising, Consumerism, and American Culture

Below I’ve listed several possible ideas to think about for this essay that you can use to develop your topic/thesis for this essay. No outside essays/articles are acceptable, but you are strongly encouraged to use specific, real examples of advertisements, commercials, etc. that would support your argument.

As a reminder, the basic requirements for this essay are:

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a minimum of 4-1/2 typed, double-spaced pages in length;
the use of at least 3 direct quotes that come from at least 2 of the essays we read in class–you may also use “Consuming Kids” as a source; you may NOT use “Brought to You B(u)y”–chapter introductions do not count as sources!
a Works Cited page;
the use of proper MLA format throughout;
a clear, identifiable, argumentative thesis which articulates your position;
good organization with appropriate transitions;
well-supported points (including specific, detailed examples of your own, not only those from the essays);
clear, proofread, error-free writing;
a final draft due by the 5pm deadline on Sunday

1. Where is the line when it comes to advertisements? Is there any such thing as “too far,” and how do we argue for where that line should be? What, if anything could/should be off limits for advertisers? Write an argumentative essay in which you argue for where, if anywhere, boundaries should be set for advertising today.

1(a). You might consider this topic in relation to a specific kind of advertising, or advertising for a specific audience (i.e. children’s products, online advertisements, advertising using women’s/men’s bodies to sell, etc.)

2. Write an argumentative essay in which you take a position on the use of gender in advertising. How are images of women (or men!) used in advertising, and what are the message and the effect of that message on consumers? [If you choose this topic, focus on only one gender and write a fully-detailed response]

2(a). You might also take on this topic focusing on children/the selling of children’s products.

2(b). You might also take on this topic by choosing one magazine devoted to a particular gender (i.e. Cosmo or Maxim) and perform a semiotic analysis of that magazine, arguing about the message(s) and the effect of those messages on the audience for that magazine.

3. According to McKevitt, “[m]anufacturing wants for things . . . is what keeps us in a permanent state of dissatisfaction, because only by making us unhappy with what we have today is it possible to persuade us to pay for something that will make us happy tomorrow” (125). Write an argumentative essay in which you take a position on this issue. You should NOT, however, make McKevitt the focus of the essay in any way–the focus is on the manufacturing of wants.

4. Is the “treadmill of consumption” irreversible? Will we always, as Roberts claims “continue to embrace the shiny-objects ethos”? (119). Write an argument in which you take a position on this issue. You should NOT, however, craft your essay to be a direct response to Roberts. In other words, do not craft a thesis along the lines of “I will argue that Roberts makes a good argument.” The argument should be your own.

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