After watching The Manchurian Candidate and reading Timothy Melly’s “Brainwashed! Conspiracy Theory and Ideology in the Postwar United States” I began contemplating the issue of brainwashing in our society. The idea of brainwashing was introduced to the United States during The Korean War, but was certainly not confined to that era. In fact brainwashing is still a huge part of American culture, especially commercial advertising. Although we all are victims of brainwashing through advertisements, children are undoubtedly one of the biggest targets. This is mostly because children are highly impressionable and easily manipulated.
The video, “The Corporation: Advertisements Targeting Children” shows how children use nagging to get their parents to buy them various products. Companies are able to brainwash children to buy their products by showing the same commercials repeatedly during children’s programming. The more the children are exposed to the products, the more likely they will want the products and nag their parents to buy them. For instance, while watching a movie on the Disney Channel, a child may say several commercials for the Bratz Dolls or Hot Wheelz. Commercials also make their ads very colorful to appeal to children and maintain their attention. Companies also have flashy logos or catchy songs to force these young consumers to remember their products. There’s a reason why children remember Oscar Mayer bologna instead of Boar’s Head bologna. Another method that is particularly effective is associating the product with a character that children like. Children are more likely to want to eat macaroni and cheese that is in the shape of Spongebob Squarepants than regular elbow macaroni. Children might even argue that it tastes better.
When children see these products, they fuss and throw tantrums until they get their parents to finally give in and buy the products. Then the cycle starts over again. In the video, Professor Susan Linn says, “It’s not that products themselves are bad or good. It’s the notion of manipulating children into buying the products.” There are some great products out there for kids, but if the ads are not played constantly, or are not visually appealing, the kids will not want these products.
Brainwashing children to buy merchandise is a long way off from brainwashing men to be assassins. However, if the children do not eventually learn to be educated consumers, they could potentially become mindless zombies who are unable to think for themselves.
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