American-ness

There’s a tunnel in the subway system that goes between 7th and 8th Avenues at Times Square and I have to walk it all the time.   It’s hot down there and there’s a lot of people handing out religious pamphlets.  And all along the wall of the tunnel are advertisements.  I don’t understand why really, but the same ads get repeated lots of times.  If you walk through the tunnel right now you see this advertisement about 10 times–

And y0u also see this advertisement an equal number of times–

And it’s hard because there’s nothing else to look at in the tunnel really, so you sort have no choice but to look at the ads for “The American” and American Apparel.  And then I got to thinking that by placing so many of these ads next to each other, a sort of dialogue on American-ness has been created.  The Clooney ad puts it right out there: “George Clooney is ‘The American'”.  In other words, when you look at this ad, he is the representation of all things American and man.  And then you look at the American Apparel ad and it’s this young woman and when you look there, she acts as a representation of all things American and woman.  

I don’t have the energy to make a conclusion about all this right now except to say, there’s a buttload of advertisements in New York.  And sometimes it bums me out.  Because you can’t avoid it!  And advertising people are paid to put ideas into our head about how we spend our money and I think they even put ideas into our head about other things–like what it means to be an American.  And what it means to be a man or a woman.  Or they play into what they think we think it means to be an American, etc. 

On the upside: “American Apparel faces bankruptcy as store chain unravels.”

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3 responses to “American-ness

  1. The bombardment of ads bums me out too. I’m a mom and don’t know if I’ve become more sensitive or does no one really care anymore what kids see in public places? (Passing “The Last Exorcism” poster my 7-year-old asks, “Mommy, what’s wrong with her?” I answered, “She’s a gymnast who got her nightgown dirty practicing her moves out in the rain and mud.”)

  2. Oh, that’s not good that American Apparel may unravel. It’s one of the few companies that still makes things in the USA. The trade deficit (everything made in China) is killing our economy, and the long oceanic shipments of the products we use is bad for the environment.

  3. You know George Clooney is American because he has a gun. Duh.

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