2004 IN

The Commercial-Free Mind

Part 1. Getting Your Head Out of the Tube

“Get your head out of that tube!” It’s something you might have heard your mother say if you grew up in the second half of the twentieth century and sat much too close to the television. The tube in question is the cathode ray tube (CRT) used in most televisions and video displays made before 2003. . . . (read more)

Part 2. Inside the Corporate Mind

As any historian will tell you, to understand a message, you have to understand the motivations and perspectives of its author. But who is the author of a television commercial? . . . (read more)

Part 3. Commercial Clutter

Many people don’t realize how many useless thoughts they have running through their heads until they try to meditate. Meditation instructors say stray thoughts are the greatest obstacle in teaching Americans to meditate. Most of us, when we try to sit quietly and not think about anything in particular, find ourselves confronted with a rapid-fire sequence of thoughts . . . (read more)

Part 4. The Myth of the Mainstream

The location of the mouth of the Mississippi, the point where the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, is well known, and you can go look at it if you wish. If you do, you may notice several things wrong. Set aside the bizarre picture of a river that, with human assistance, has advanced all the way to the edge of the continental shelf . . . (read more)

Part 5. Too Many Choices

Having choices is, of course, a good thing. The idea of freedom includes the ability to make decisions about your own actions and circumstances. But having too many choices can be a problem. . . . (read more)

Part 6. The Fraud of French Fries

What is making Americans so fat? I apologize for being so blunt in asking this question, but if there ever was an occasion to use the word “fat,” this is surely it. . . . (read more)

Part 7. It’s All About You

In 20th-century psychology, if you thought that a message on the television screen was directed specifically at you, it was one of the surest signs that you had lost your mind. No more. . . . (read more)

Part 8. The Commercial Closet

Years ago, I caught a glimpse of the Tae Bo infomercial on television. . . . I still have not watched the tapes all the way through. . . . (read more)

Part 9. Time Is Money

A common criticism of commercials is that the products they promote are a waste of money. Most of the time, this is a valid criticism, but it overlooks a more important problem. The commercials themselves are a waste of your time. . . . (read more)

Part 10. Push Back

It is not hard to find people who are completely sick of advertising. To these people, television commercials are annoying, junk mail is a major nuisance, billboards are an eyesore, and car sales people are people who don’t have the skills to get an honest job. . . . (read more)

Part 11. Back to Vanilla

Staple foods are the most useful kind of food. So why do you hardly ever see advertising for staple foods? . . . (read more)

Part 12. Anti-Advertising

I recently got to do something most people only dream of. I took an axe to my television and smashed it to bits. . . . (read more)

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