When the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock they brought with them the dominant human characteristics of risk taking, perseverance and determination for the end result of abundant prosperity. While at first look one would assume that these are desirable traits to have in any ethnic group. However not when the prosperity of the newly colonized people involves its ability to invade, displace and eradicate the native ethnic groups in its pursuit of expansion. After the American Revolution, Americans would import foreign African ethnic groups establishing an economic and political system that would escalate into a heedless nation that’s only cultural contribution to the world is its obsession for greed ,wealth, and power at the expense of all ethnic tradition and customs brought here by immigrants from around the world.
The problem facing all ethnic groups in America today is the growing consumerism that has been incubating an emerging culture for the last 150 years. Unlike other countries where other ethnic groups are forced to assimilate due to foreign invaders, America invited with open arms a diversity of multi-cultured ethnic groups. All these different ethnic groups each brought their own customs traditions foods and religious beliefs with them. As we finish the first decade of the 21st century individuals find themselves more concerned with who is going to be eliminated this week on American idol, while watching it on the television screen in their cars with 24 inch spinning rims, on our way to the Olive Garden to eat Italian food made by a Mexicans, all while updating their Face book page with their new I phone. This is a terrifying definition of what one might call American culture. However it is not culture at all but the end result of extensive consumerism. Corporations produce goods in such mass volume so we can easily afford them. They also spend millions of dollars on advertising to the point we feel we can not live with out them. This is causing people to work more hours to purchase luxury items in an attempt to compete with their peers. This is causing a generation to abandon the values and traditions brought here by previous generations who migrated to America. This problem faces every ethnic group in America today. If left unresolved, all the diversity that makes this country the great melting pot it is today, will instead turn it into a cultureless country of money-grubbing, mindless zombies that behave and purchase everything corporations want them to. Corporate retailers support the social influential broadcasting media networks such as MTV, CNN, ESPN, and the Disney channel by purchasing the commercial time the networks sell to generate their revenue. This also allows the Corporations to influence the programming shown on television which plays a significant role in creating American culture.
This is an important issue because in a country that prides its self in its ethnic cultural diversity, it is slowly being erased by the corporations that were born in its free market system. Immigrants have come to America to escape political and or economic hardships. They have also come here to work or start business and have a piece of the “American dream”. As newly relocated immigrants they bring with them the culture of their homeland. As time goes on they can pick and chose the extent of their assimilation. Their native born or even young children on the other hand only know the Americanism consumer society they grow up in. As they go to school they discover the importance placed on material possessions as they are judged by their peers by their clothing and possessions placing them in social categories. This is when they learn the value and necessity of the items they see on television commercials (Brenagain). For first generation Americans the only exposure they get to the culture and tradition of their native land is what comes from their parents. As they grow up and assimilate they will abandon the culture taught by their parents for the materialistic American consumer way of life.
Advertisers started to reach out to large groups of people in the 1920’s as consumer spending fueled by consumer credit helped people make purchases they might not be able to afford(GMU.edu)With the invention of the radio, advertisers could reach all the people in a city. Radio also helped expose products to people that were illiterate and normally never saw adds in magazines or newspapers. Using new techniques such as music jingles and having radio actors promote products, was the beginning of playing on peoples desires to want to be like celebrities and buy what they said was necessary and fashionable.
(JDU.edu)Commercial television advertising began after world war II in the 1950’s . The three major networks (ABC NBC CBS) broadcasted nationally and the commercials shown were made by the largest corporations that had their goods sold in stores nationwide (JDU.edu). Nothing has changed in the last sixty years; the growth of television has created more channels with more commercials. Corporate retail giants are continually telling us we need their products to enhance our lives, while molding our culture to their liking destroying the diverse cultures of all ethnic groups in America.
Immigrants that came here originated from many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. They brought with them a rich heritage. However the youth of today holds no value to that heritage and is throwing it away and trading it for prime time television and whatever new clothing line is popular at the time. If society does not wake up and recognizes that they are being brainwashed by corporate sponsors that fund the programming they watch on TV and figure out that the shoes you wear, the car you drive, and the jewelry you flaunt does not define your character .It is this kind of mentality that fuels American consumerism and will lead to the downfall of all the diverse culture ethnic groups brought to America making us the great melting pot of the world.
If I was president and could implement any action to rectify this issue that faces all ethnic groups today, my solution would be simple but possibly have a catastrophic impact on our society as we know it. I would create a law that places a financial ceiling on the amount of money any business in America can spend on advertising. I would allow businesses to spend only up to 100,000 dollars on advertising each year in every state. This would allow nation wide corporations to spend up to 5.2 million dollars a year but no more then 100,000 dollars in any particular state. However I would allow additional spending over the cap so long as any amount of money spent in any particular state by a corporation is matched with a 2 to 1 ratio payment to that states public school system. That way if McDonalds wants to spend 10milion on commercials in Los Angeles County they would also have to give 20 million to California’s school system totaling 30 million for only 10 million in advertising. My intention for this radical form of legislation would be to cripple the hold that advertisers have on the television media potentially destroying mass media as we know it. Two possible results would occur if I could implement this law. With out the millions dollars corporations spend on add revenue all the mindless programming that is on television would be taken off the air. This would not allow television networks to pay actors absurd amounts of money but instead direct that money into bettering our local school systems and pay teachers the money they deserve to educate our children benefiting our society and all ethnic groups as a whole. This way our county could redirect its value s away from material possessions and the need to own everything shown on TV. and more on sciences , the arts, family values, and improving the community. Then ethnic culture will grow and thrive in communities and the rich diverse ethnic heritage and history?that made our county the unique melting pot will continue, and not be erased by corporate profiteering.?
“American Advertising: A Brief History.” History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. George washington university, n.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2010.