3/2 Killing Us Softly



How does advertising work?
Why does advertising work?

In the video Jean Kilbourne says, "The average american sees 3000 ads every day.
And spends 2 years of their life watching commercials."

Do you think that's a lot?
Do you think Taiwanese watch fewer or more ads than Americans?

"Oh, I just don't pay attention to ads. I just tune them out. They have no effect on me."
Agree or disagree?

"Only 8% of an ad's message is received by the conscious mind. the rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain." --Rance Crain, Former Senior Editor of Advertising Age.
What was your reaction when you read that?


How would you define 'a toxic environment'?
How much pollution does there have to be for an environment to be toxic?

What do you suppose could be considered a toxic emotional environment?
If your boss yelled at employees every day, even if they didn't yell at you, would you consider your work environment toxic?
If you went to work or home and everyday you heard people saying stuff like, "Oh, she's useless, she never does anything right, well you know people from _________ never amount to anything, it's like genetic, right? It's just not possible for them to _________." Would that constitute a toxic environment?

Here's some quotes from Banksy, a well-known graffiti artist in London:
"People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it."
"They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you."
"They are "The Advertisers" and they are laughing at you."

Did anything strike you when you read this statement?
What did you feel when you heard/read this?
Do you agree with Banksy?

"Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success. and perhaps most importantly, of normalcy. To a great extent, they tell us who we are, and who we should be."
Agree or disagree?

Think about some ads that you've seen that are for men, like computer products, watches, razors, even men's facial creams. What are the messages there?

Ok, now think about some ads that you've seen that are for women. Like beauty products, fashion ads, food ads, ads which show moms in them, even computer products aimed at women.
What are the messages there?

Is the world different for men and women? That is to say, are men and women living in the same environment?

Here's what I think are the messages for men and women.
"You are a real human being, and what you say and do is valuable. Those other people are there for your sexual enjoyment, but they're not really people you have to take seriously."

"You are there for those other people's sexual enjoyment, but you're not really worth all that much, unless you're really sexy. And even then, you're not to be taken seriously."

Do you agree or disagree with me?
What do you think the messages are? Are they the same for men and women?


Do you like looking at yourself in the mirror?
What do you look at first in the mirror?
What is your deal breaker? Meaning, what part of you has to look good in order for you to feel okay about going out in public?
What part of you do you feel, "if only it looked better, things would be okay"?

What do you know about photoshopping of images?
Do you measure yourself against pictures you see in magazines?

Jean Kilbourne says, "Failure is inevitable because the ideal is based on absolute flawlessness.
You almost never see a picture of a woman considered beautiful that hasn't been photoshopped. So the image isn't real, it's artificial, it's constructed, but real women and girls measure ourselves against this image, every single day."
Cindy Crawford said, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford".

What's your reaction to what Cindy Crawford said?

Jean Kilbourne continues, "Actually, no matter what you do, you can't live up to the beauty ideal. This ad actually just lays it out for us:
Your breasts may be too big, too saggy, too pert, too flat, too full, too far apart, too close together, too A cup, too lopsided, too jiggly, too pale, too padded, too pointy, too pendulous, or just two mosquito bites. But with Dep styling products, at least you can have your hair the way you want it."
We get the message that we have to be impossibly beautiful, hot, thin, sexy, and at the same time we get the message that we're going to fail."

Do you agree that ads and ad culture set us up to fail?
If you agree, do you think that this is inadvertent or intentional?

Can you imagine an ad for men that went like that?
"Your penis might be too small, too droopy, too limp, too lop-sided, too narrow, too fat, too pale, too pointy, too blunt, or just two inches! But at least you can have a great pair of jeans."

If there were more ads in the world like this targeting men, would that be a good thing?
Would it improve things?


We often see white women in ads in Taiwan, and also mainland China.
What's your feeling about that?
Does seeing a white woman in an ad affect your feeling of the product's desirability?
Do you find the white women in ads attractive?
Do you find them more or less or the same attractive as Taiwanese women in ads?
Do you find it weird at all to be surrounded by all these foreigners in ads?

Jean Kilbourne says, "Women of color are generally considered beautiful only if they approximate the white ideal."
Do you think this statement is true?

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