Kalle Lasn, the author of “The Cult You’re in” has experience with advertising and how powerful it is in today’s society. He founded the anti-corporate AdBusters Media Foundation in 1989. He has produced documentaries for PBS and Canada’s National Film Board. He writes about advertising which means he understands what advertising is and how it affects society. He is definitely qualified to write about advertising. Lasn’s central point is abundantly clear. To me, his argument is convincing and it has changed my views on advertising and its impact.
Lasn is trying to reach the general public. The general public is the consumers he mentions in his piece. If this reaches his intended audience, it would persuade them. The brands and scenarios he describes are relatable to the members of this “cult” he is describing. Lasn’s purpose is to demonstrate the negative impact advertising has on society as a whole. He mentions, “Cults promise a kind of boundless contentment-punctuated by moments of bliss-but never quite deliver on that promise.” He is describing how society is not happy in this cult. Advertising is deceiving people into believing they’re being satisfied. Lasn’s title of choice is extremely effective. “The cult you’re in.” He doesn’t even give an option. He already assumes society is a part of this cult. Right from the start he has a negative tone.
Lasn first starts out by kind of telling a story; about your life. He uses second person to make his audience think about their life. He uses it to make society start to think of how they live their life and how similar it is to Lasn’s description. Then, he starts describing the cult. Again, making the readers see the similarities in their life to this horrible, plain, and boring cult. He describes the cult by saying, “The only things to which they confidently ascribe value are things other people have already scouted, deemed worth and embraced.” Lasn’s main point is that advertising is slowly turning society into a cult. He claims, “We’re not fathers and mothers and brothers: we’re consumers.”
The support that Lasn uses is not a strength in his essay. Most of what he claims are assumptions. The whole first half of Lasn’s essay is in second person. In a way, he is assuming everybody’s life is like that. He makes an assumption by saying, “Each little fix means not just getting what you want, but power. For a few moments, you are the center of attention. You call the shots.” Right away, he talks about your life like he understands. His tone of the essay is very serious. He also brings up feelings of ridicule. His diction, and his attitude makes the audience feel guilty. He wants his audience to realize that they are in the wrong.
Lasn might deal with constraints when trying to reach his audience. People may not see his work that he puts out so it wouldn’t reach all of the general public. Lasn is really effective with his use of intertextuality. He mentions several pop culture icons, brands and many other recognizable figures. This helps his argument because his readers will recognize the names and they will relate it to their life and their desires. When he says, “Michael Jordan goes up on your bedroom door. He is your first hero, throwing a glow around the first brand in your life-Nike.” Michael Jordan and Nike are both apart of popular culture. His audience will recognize those names and relate to Lasn’s message. This will make his readers feel even guiltier because they understand the cult Lasn is mentioning. In this essay, Lasn doesn’t appeal to ethos as much as he should. But, when taking the time to look Lasn up, he is credible enough to write this piece. He works a lot with advertisements and analyzing them. He seems to have done his research on advertisements and their effects. Lasn appeals to pathos by evoking the feeling of guilt and hopelessness. The way he says. “Yet the bulk of the population is dreaming of the same dream. It’s a dream of wealth, power, fame, plenty of sex and exciting recreational opportunities.” This will make his readers feel guilty for falling into the trap of advertisements. They will also feel hopeless because their dreams that they thought were possible and unique are shot down by Lasn. This will make readers think about why they consume what they do. Lasn doesn’t appeal to logos that often. That’s one thing that hinders his argument. A lot of what he says is assumptions. Although, they are reasonable assumptions, there are still no facts to back him up.
I agree with Lasn and his views. I think that Lasn’s way of relating the effect of advertisements to a cult was an excellent way of describing it. I think that advertising has really taken a control on people’s lives. Most of what we decide to do is not a decision we have made consciously. Advertisements are able to manipulate us so easily. The effects of advertising really does put society into a cult and not many are aware of it.
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