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  • T.W. Emory

Many people are regularly persuaded...

From what I’ve observed over the years, many people are regularly persuaded to buy a number of things they really don’t need. We are after all, a consumer society. I’ve come to accept it as axiomatic that advertising works and advertising pays. Ironically, some of the very same people involved in the entertainment industry that insist that the entertainment on TV (or the movies) doesn’t shape or influence the choices and behavior of people unduly or negatively, are nonetheless among those who will regularly take money from advertisers desiring to show their product for thirty seconds because they know it will shape and influence the choices and behavior of people watching TV shows. (And that goes for product placement in movies as well.) As I recall, a paramount reason for finally banning cigarette commercials in 1971 was not just the effect these ads would potentially have on children, but also because of the effect they were having on adults.

Years ago I read a comment from historian Will Durant about the ancient Greeks, and how they’d come to understand that if you wanted an idea accepted or rejected, all you really needed to do was have that idea either praised or ridiculed in a popular play. Arguably, modern television shows and films serve the same purpose, and of course these days the internet certainly plays a role in amplifying the effect. Thus, it seems hardly surprising that the case is made that entertainment both reflects and shapes society at large.

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