The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-events in America - Study Guide Chapter 5 - Section IV-VI Summary & Analysis

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In section IV, Boorstin describes how the appearance of advertising has caused a movement from focusing on "truth" to focusing on "credibility". Citing the Graphic Revolution as a primary cause, he states, "By sharpening our images we have blurred all our experiences". Boorstin asserts that there are several aspects of "successful advertising".

The first aspect is "the appeal of the neither-true-nor-false" or "ambiguity". Boorstin describes how Schlitz beer used ambiguity by advertising the fact that the bottles were "steam-sterilized", neglecting to mention the fact that all the other beer companies used the same process. However, the competition could not make the same assertion because it would appear that they were trying to copy Schlitz. The company thus enjoyed the distinction of being the "only" company to use steam. This strategy quickly caught on and began to be used across all industries.

The second aspect is "the appeal of the self-fulfilling prophecy". Boorstin suggests that this is a direct means for advertisers to create a sense of credibility that otherwise would not exist. He continues that "facts" are created that help to make an otherwise unlikely scenario seem possible or true. This is particularly true in the form of endorsements from people with celebrity status. However, the endorsements cannot stretch credibility too far and therefore much planning and deliberation is necessary to stage it correctly. Boorstin contends that because of the need for planning it becomes a pseudo-event.

The third aspect is "the appeal of the half-intelligible". Boorstin states that consumers expect that they will not understand half of what is being said because it demonstrates a kind of "progress" and advancement. The technical "jargon" and large scientific words "prove" that the company really is working hard to make a better product and that the customer's experience is at the heart of their efforts. In addition, consumers gain a certain amount of prestige by being able to wield the jargon themselves.

The fourth aspect is "The appeal of the contrived". Boorstin suggests that consumers are delighted that the advertisers invest so much effort into creating a pseudo-event. Boorstin continues that advertising helps to make a shift from what is "true" to what is "believable". He contends that due to the Graphic Revolution, it is much easier to make things believable.

In section V, Boorstin discusses how reality has become blurry. He states that even the seasons have become blurred because of the relentless drive of business and consumerism. Many things have now lost their distinction and their edges.

In section VI, Boorstin continues his thesis by stating that our "intentions" and "desires" have become less focused. He discusses Walter Lippman's book "Public Opinion" and praises his distinction between and individual's public opinion, and a society's public opinion.

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