In a discussion of how the psychology behind advertisements affects consumer ideologies, one can look to the Pop Chips commercials and images, which use Katy Perry as their promoter. The second advertisement entitled ‘Love. Without the handles’ queries whether this is indeed a potato chip advertisement or whether it is a message to eat these chips to lose weight. In Delaney’s discussion, the author questions the relationship between the mind and body, whether these are separate or integrated and concludes that the ‘body’ is influenced by culture from birth. Delaney goes on to describe how personhood is attributed varying characteristics of ‘sex, race, food, and emotions’ of how people feel about their physical bodies, which are impacted by capitalism and consumerism through the ‘social controls and discipline’ exercised on people.The second Pop Chips advertisement is directly aimed at influencing the consumer’s perception of themselves and how eating this product is beneficial to possessing a slim body or gaining a slim body. As noted, it is unclear as to whether the advertisement is selling potato chips or a weight loss product. What is clear, is that this advertisement suggests that having a slim body is desirable in Western society. The idea of the thin/slim physical aspect of personhood is, therefore, advocated as being better than someone who carries more physical weight. Mintz observes how the element of food in culture used to be a source and sign of special celebration but has now been absorbed into society, especially by marketers, to promote just about any aspect of personhood with food. In this instance, promoting Pop Chips with the help of celebrity endorsement encourages a different viewpoint on body weight and that personhood is inextricably linked with both weight and success. According to Mintz, food began to acquire extended meaning with the advent of commercial trade across country borders, and these meanings are associated with everything from ‘age, to gender, class, and occupation’. Statements such as this also clarify advertisements where thin is advocated as being better, rich is better and success is better, confirming that advertisements and consumer ideologies do play a critical role in informing the status of personhood.
Turning to the relationship between capitalism, consumerism, and personhood and how this relationship delineates between people in terms of citizenship, gender, race or existence as a member of the human race one can look at the infamous Dharavi slum of India. Here, Brook explains how the Dharavi slum has been lauded as a place of entrepreneurship and a hive of commerce. Brook goes on to explain how the suffering of working extended hours in dangerous conditions is seen to be nurtured through an absence of help from wealthier sectors of the population. Between India’s non-tax-paying middle- and elite-classes salving their consciences by justifying the suffering of slum-dwellers and a lack of essential services as compromising the potential to survive and stymying the generation of solutions, the odor and suffering of Dharavi continues to condemn its dwellers to a citizen status of being ‘less than’ in a society consumed with capitalism and success. Kaur addresses how the poverty-stricken common man from the slums of India is being praised as the latest frugal innovative citizen in a country where there is no need for the taxes of the more fortunate to provide services and alleviate the suffering of slum-dwellers. Kaur also questions whether the repositioning of slum-dwellers as modern innovators in ‘adverse circumstances’ is positive or just a way to absolve government and capitalism of expenditure to extend them basic services such as electricity, running water and modern sanitation, which impact on perceptions of citizenship, wealth, success, and personhood.
The obsession with capitalism and consumerism has been affecting the middle-class for over a century. Robbins affords additional evidence of how capitalism has displaced people and deprived them of their means of income when cheaper products such as wheat or corn could be sourced from another country. The same approach applies to cheap garments or labor being sourced from developing economies such as India or China to increase the profits of capitalists around the globe. Robbins further mentions how slave labor imported from Peru and China into the US in the mid to late 1800s was discriminated against in respect of ‘race, religion, ethnicity, age, and gender’ and described as ‘historical products of labor market segregation under the capitalist mode’. The fact that slaves have been used to perpetuate capitalism and consumerism speaks to how these ideologies have caused great divides in people based on specific characteristics.
Returning to the Pop Chips advertisements with Katy Perry containing the slogans ‘Spare me the guilt chip. I have the implication that women’s food indulgences should be ridden with guilt. So what if I want some fucking chips?’ and ‘Nothing fake about ‘em. Chips and boobs, together at last!’, both are directed at eliciting a particular condition. Delaney firmly maintains that society embeds specific conditions and perceptions of how we are to perceive the physical body from a young age. The author also confirms that there is no separation between body and mind, that there is no physical body apart from ‘meaning, desire and power’, all of which are instilled through cultural beliefs but that media is successful in promulgating specific images to attract a specific response, which leads to the personhood being compromised.
Inevitably, these cultural influences require the perfect body, regard success as monetary wealth or fame, look down on people who are overweight and up to images of female breasts. The female body has been praised in different cultures for various reasons for centuries. As Delaney points out though, the stereotype of the contemporary image of the female is that a physically attractive woman in modern-day cultural perception is likely to marry wealthy and be happy while having an average IQ level, while a woman with a genius-level IQ is likely to marry an ugly man and be unhappy, which is reinforced through the triad of capitalism, consumerism and personhood.
All of these bodily meanings and perceptions can be seen in the Pop Chip advertisements. People are raised in the Western culture with specific images of the ideal body and often feel guilty for their small ‘indulgences’ in snacks. Female breasts are frequently used to sell products as these are seen as being attractive, while being overweight is understood to be unattractive and unhealthy. Delaney speaks of how society denigrates the personhood within the framework of capitalism and consumerism through instilling ‘shame, blame, criticism, and praise’ when the person does not comply with the cultural requirements of such a society. The author also confirms that the contemporary body image is acquired via an industrialized culture through a plethora of visual media platforms.
Negative meanings in advertisements contribute significantly to various aspects of personhood. Whether these associated meanings promote segregation of groups of people due to demographic characteristics, financial status or play on feelings of inadequacy or success, consumer ideologies have a substantial and critical influence on culture. Communications in India promote their poor as being innovators, while distancing themselves from the need to support their lower classes and promote the ‘good times’, which Kaur describes as ‘the historical moment when capitalism was reified as the sole vehicle of people’s aspirations—that is, unchallenged by any other political alternative’. This description by Kaur exemplifies how capitalism and consumerism are so powerfully aligned that the personhood has evolved into a commodity where feelings and rights are largely ignored and success is gauged by monetary wealth. Kaur goes on to mention how the left and right-wing political parties in India have become proponents of capitalism, which is anticipated to realize the dreams of its citizens.
Consumer ideology has become inseparable from contemporary culture to the degree that capitalism and consumerism consume personhood, define it, control it and use it at will. The relationship between these elements has become united as one and is only separated by individual critical thought about these associations. The growth of capitalism across the globe has become pervasive and continues to inform modern-day country culture and how the products of this ideology actively encourage consumerism in a growing environment of competition to sell products, which continues to define personhood.