Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Ubiquitous Matrix of Lies

Let's begin with beer. Near my home I drive past a billboard advertisement for Coors Light. The slogan is, "Coors rocks Harrisburg." Now, does anybody actually believe that Coors does in fact "rock Harrisburg?" No. Does the Coors corporation itself believe it? No. Does anyone believe that Coors believes it? No. It is a lie, everyone knows it is a lie, and no one cares. Everyone automatically writes it off as an ad slogan, an image campaign.

The next sign advertises Miller Beer with the phrase, "Fresh beer tastes better." Does anyone actually think Miller is fresher than Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst? No. Does anyone at Miller Brewing think that? No. It is another obvious and unremarkable lie, beneath the threshold of most people's awareness. But it contributes to a feeling of living in a phony world where words don't matter and nothing is real.

Here is another beer slogan, for Carlsburg: "Probably the best beer in the world." Obviously, the word "probably" has been chosen to suggest that someone devoted great consideration to this question, sampled all the world's great beers, and finally issued an impartial judgment. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. No one thinks it did. Everyone knows that actually what happened is a bunch of advertising pros thought up a slogan in an effort to create an "image." Isn't it remarkable that lies are still effective even when no one believes them? Unfortunately, when it hardly matters whether words are truth or lies, then words lose their power to convey the truth.


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