The reason advertisements consistently portray everyone as a smiling idiot, a self-absorbed advantage-seeker, a gushing sentimentalist, a self-righteous slogan-spouter, a hypersexual poseur, or an all-knowing and assertive fake expert, is that professional advertisers know how to do their job. The essence of their job is to attract the greatest number of targeted consumers by appealing to the most common tastes and tendencies of the time. Look around you. How many people do you see — be honest with yourself — who would not fit neatly into one or more of the categories listed above? And — be even more honest with yourself — how often do the advertisers’ appeals to one or more of those groups have at least some of their intended effect on you?

How much of modern “news,” “journalism,” and “commentary” operates on precisely the same model as advertising? How much of all these, in fact, amounts to much more, in practice, than advertising by alternative means? — the only difference being that in the realm of current events and social commentary, advertising is more accurately designated by the name of its political variant, i.e., propaganda.

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