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Consuming Passions: Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Survey of Popular Culture.

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1 Consuming Passions: Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Survey of Popular Culture

2 Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Roland Marchand, The Parable of the Democracy of Goods When You Come Home [ADVERTISEMENT] PAIRED READINGS: CREATING CONSUMERS James B. Twitchell, What We Are to Advertisers Steve Craig, Men’s Men and Women’s Women Minette E. Drumright and Patrick E. Murphy, How Advertising Practitioners View Ethics: Moral Muteness, Moral Myopia, and Moral Imagination Jennifer L. Pozner, Dove’s “Real Beauty” Backlash Eric Schlosser, Kid Kustomers Julia B. Corbett, A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World Alan Foliambe, Car Advertising—Dominating Nature Portfolio of Advertisements

3 Survey of Popular Culture Introduction  “borrowing the aura of something that is already popular and hoping that it will be transplanted to the product or service that is for sale” (172)  “schadenfreude”—pleasure in the suffering of others  keeping us laughing  sentimental—show Colbert clip on Course Blogshow Colbert clip on Course Blog  “An Ad Culture” (James Twitchell)  stealth advertising (175)  advertising here and abroad  commodification of desire  populism to elitism  parodying ads

4 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Roland Marchand, The Parable of the Democracy of Goods When You Come Home [ADVERTISEMENT]

5 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising PAIRED READINGS: CREATING CONSUMERS James B. Twitchell, What We Are to Advertisers Steve Craig, Men’s Men and Women’s Women

6 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Minette E. Drumright and Patrick E. Murphy, How Advertising Practitioners View Ethics: Moral Muteness, Moral Myopia, and Moral Imagination

7 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Jennifer L. Pozner, Dove’s “Real Beauty” Backlash

8 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Eric Schlosser, Kid Kustomers Colbert Interviews Schlosser

9 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Julia B. Corbett, A Faint Green Sell: Advertising and the Natural World

10 Survey of Popular Culture Chapter 2 Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising Alan Foliambe, Car Advertising—Dominating Nature Portfolio of Advertisements

11 Survey of Popular Culture Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising xxxxxxxxxxx

12 Brought to You B(u)y Space Boosters Survey of Popular Culture

13 Space Boosters The Pythia of Delphi has now been replaced by a computer which hovers over panels and punch cards. The hexameters of the oracle have given way to sixteen- bit codes of instruction. Man the helmsman has turned the power over to the cybernetic machine. The ultimate machine emerges to direct our destinies. Children phantasize flying their spacecrafts away from a crepuscular Earth.--Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society... the emphasis on surface; the blankness of the protagonist; his striving toward self-sufficiency, to the point of displacement from the recognizable world.... Does the icy quality of an artificial outer space, the self-conscious displacement and blankness of car commercials, MTV, and "Miami Vice," correspond to a glacial inner space?--Todd Gitlin, "We Build Excitement" Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

14 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

15 In a late 1980s issue of Marketing Week, a columnist laments the post- Jetsons lack of real Space Age advertising and calls for campaigns more in keeping with an era of Star Wars and SDI (Myers 12). Surely he cannot read magazines or watch television. Advertisements could not be spacier than they are now. Never slow to capitalize on the tacit tendencies of the cultural psyche, advertisments, "soak... up certain ideals in circulation at the moment, and squeeze... a version of them back at us." According to Todd Gitlin, ads present "the incarnation of a popular ideal--or rather, the ideas of that ideal held by the marketer." An advertisement is thus, in a sense, a "tiny utopia." The commercial "conveys what we are supposed to think is the magic of things; those things which, if we buy them, are supposed to work miraculous transformations in our lives" ("We Build Excitement" 141). In the Space Age, it seems, the advertising industry has realized that virtually anything can now be sold to us through appeals to our otherworldliness. Brought to You B(u)y Space Boosters Survey of Popular Culture

16 In their 1953 novel The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth imagined a Madison Avenue advertising agency given the task of convincing the human race that it should migrate to an uninhabitable Venus. In Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner, we see an early twenty first century Los Angeles cityscape in which huge, floating video billboards beam promises that "a new life awaits you in the off-world colonies." Neither of these science fiction prophecies has come true (though Sony has now developed multistory video billboards), but they now hardly seem fantastic to us, for though we are not yet being sold Venusian real estate, we are being sold unearthliness. Brought to You B(u)y Space Boosters Survey of Popular Culture

17 Space Boosters In 1981, I lived and taught in Shanghai, People's Republic of China. When I left with my family on a long Pan Am flight to an alien world, the space shuttle Columbia, then on its maiden voyage, orbited the Earth. It touched down soon after our arrival in Asia. In the Far East edition of Time, I read that the successful mission had given post-Vietnam, post- Watergate America a "mighty lift"; and President Reagan, convalescing from an assassination attempt, waxed eloquently to the Columbia's heroes, telling them (I learned), "Through you, we feel as giants once again.” On my return to the United States later that summer, badly culture- shocked from my time in the People's Republic, I struggled to acclimate myself again to the frenetic, spacy American way of life. More than ordinarily attuned to its peculiarities and absurdities, I began to notice a new kind of advertisement appearing with surprising frequency on television (and, I might note, I watched television with open-eyed wonder after months without it in Shanghai). The image of space was, throughout the decade, everywhere. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

18 Space Boosters --I saw Space Age microphotography--designed, we are told, to view the Earth from space--reveal the epidermis of a woman's skin in order to convince us of the positive effects of an antiaging cream. --I saw the three-ply lamination of Glad garbage bags fuse together, set against the backdrop of interstellar space. --I saw Maybelline Dial-a-Lash tubes shoot off from launching pads. --I saw a fashion model, standing on the lunar surface, wear Revlon lipstick said to exhibit "out-of-this-world colors.” --I saw a Technics turntable orbit the Earth. --I saw the Cincinnati Bell logo transformed into a space station. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

19 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw an ad for Always Plus Night Super Maxi Pads depict the feminine hygiene product as a UFO. Survey of Popular Culture

20 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw a ready-to- assemble "wall system"-- labeled, of course, as a "Space Age" product-- offer "new heights in organization" and "infinite" possibilities for creativity, solving storage needs by allowing the owner to "fill unlimited space.” Survey of Popular Culture

21 Space Boosters --I saw a United Negro College Fund appeal, showing African- American scholars in graduation robes and mortar boards set against yet another cosmic backdrop. (For, after all, this solicitation for contributions informs us that the mind is as "vast as space.") --I saw Taster’s Choice--like Tang before it--offered to us as the choice of astronauts (the shuttle astronauts in this case). --I saw a spot for Home Box Office show a family in its living room flying through space, watching HBO.--I saw an insurance company's famous "piece of the rock" appear in a cosmic landscape resting on an Earth seemingly without atmosphere (the moon appears only miles away), orbited by a ranch-style, two-stall garage home, a sports car approaching on a highway through space, and a floating sailboat followed by frolicking dolphins--all in keeping with the Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

22 Space Boosters advertisement's promise that "With the Prudential, the sky's the limit.” --I saw cartoon children carried into space by Bubblicious balloon bubbles. ("It tastes so unreal it'll blow you away.”) --I saw, during a decade in which (inspired by Reagan-era deregulation) it became increasingly difficult to distinguish Saturday morning television programming from its advertising, "kidvid" become more and more spacy. (A television critic notes that producers--under the influence of both George Lucas's and Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars"--came to agree that "outer space, high tech and faraway enemies in a distant future are a safer, tidier, less complicated way" to capture an audience (Engelhardt 1986, 88-89). Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

23 Space Boosters --I saw a vacuous blonde, female astronaut in a lunar lander proclaim to her companions, "Go ahead without me. I've got a run!" ("She would have been the first woman on the moon if only she'd worn Sheer Business Panty Hose.") --I saw Timex watches link together to form Star Wars-type spacefighters, accompanied by a montage of images of a man and a woman in space suits on an alien world, while a voice- over tells us that "Timex performs with all the accuracy and beauty of the cosmos.” --I saw a special new antiplaque electric tooth-brush ("Interplak"), bearing a striking resemblence to the starship Discovery in 2001: A Space Odyssey, majestically dock into its recharger on a bathroom sink --choreographed to a Strauss waltz. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

24 Space Boosters --I saw a man, traveling through a magically real yet alien landscape (Earth visible on the horizon), have a "vision of the future," not, we are told, of "space travel" or "time machines," but of the financial welfare of his family (through the assistance of Equitable Insurance). Upon his arrival home, he then witnesses his garage door open--like the entrance to the mother ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind--to disclose a blaze of white light out of which emerges a figure we take to be an alien but which turns out in fact to be his daughter, excitedly pronouncing, "Daddy!" Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

25 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw woofers and tweeters of a Delco- GM Sound System become a formation of flying saucers beckoning us to "Ride into the Sound Set.” Survey of Popular Culture

26 Space Boosters --I saw a youth, dressed in Levi's jeans, launched toward distant skies while a voice explains that in the famous jeans "the mind knows no limits.” --I saw an ad for a Chevrolet pickup truck instruct us not to "leave Earth without it" and insist that a new model has "brakes so good they're almost extraterrestrial.” --I saw two female astronauts extol the benefits of a new roll- on deodorant called "Real": "We have seen the future and it is Real.” Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

27 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw "Almost Home" chocolate-chip cookies float in space in order to optimally display their "almost out of this world" taste. Survey of Popular Culture

28 Space Boosters --I saw a man in a cumbersome space suit EVA into the cockpit of a new Toyota compact and then--so impressed is he with the car--leap in ecstasy out of the frame, beyond the limits of gravity, never to come down. ("Oh what a feeling!") --I saw the new Hyundai Sonata, introduced to us as a "space vehicle," soar off into the cosmos at the commercial's close. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

29 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw an image of a patch of lawn, complete with a house, shade trees, and two family dogs, floating in outer space, evidently removed from the Earth by cutting along a still visible dotted line surrounding the property, advertising the Invisible Fence "dog containment system." Survey of Popular Culture

30 Space Boosters --I saw a solicitation for new members of the National Space Society illustrate its motives and goals through two paintings: The Ultimate Sandbox (by Michael Whelan) showing a little girl in a "Miss Piggy" space suit building a sand castle on the moon; and Leonardo's Finale (by David Brian), in which the great Renaissance man, sitting in his study surrounded by drawings and plans for future discovery, holds a prototype model of the space shuttle in his hands. --I saw three former Apollo astronauts ("Schirra, Apollo 7," "Bean, Apollo 12," "Gordon, Apollo 12"), looking for all the world like has-been athletes, testify--in extreme, unflattering close-ups--that Actifed relieved their snuffy noses in spaces. --I saw an Always Ultra-Thin Panty Liner become an unidentified flying object. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

31 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw a small, evidently sick young girl lying in bed, a thermometer in her mouth, securely wrapped in sheets with a sky and cloud pattern (which, because they fill the frame of the advertisement, make her appear to be floating), reassuringly touch a space helmet--all beneath a headline that reads: "When your little space traveler has a fever..." Survey of Popular Culture

32 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw both Motorcraft spark plugs and oil filters blast off, as if from launching pad, from the hoods of Ford automobiles toward distant skies. Survey of Popular Culture

33 Space Boosters --I saw the Chevrolet Astro minivan circle in orbit about the Earth and yet (we are promised) still remain small enough to "fit right in your garage!” --I saw--in yet another image plagiarized from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (promoting McDonald's "Spaceship Happy Meals")--children look up at the sky with true cosmic yearning (fantasizing, no doubt, about "flying their spaceships away from a crepuscular Earth"). --I saw a poster in a McDonald's restaurant (advertising a "Space Age Calendar") instruct parents to "help your child into outer space.” Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

34 Space Boosters --I saw the traditional Jewish child's toy top, the dreidel, no longer satisfactory, undergo a Space Age sea change into an "Outer Space Dreidel" (made in Taiwan)--a battery-powered model that not only lights up but "makes outer space sounds!” --I saw, prior to the feature presentation, a short subject, sponsored by theater owners and intended to discourage littering, depict an interstellar cloud of snack bar-debris-- popcorn, Raisinettes, straws, nachos, Milk Duds--out of which an exemplary soft-drink cup/rocket speeds toward the brightly lit landing dock of a trash receptacle/space station. --I saw a cartoon Albert Einstein plug the "genius" of Betamax while ensconced in an armchair in a living room floating in the cosmos. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

35 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw a Canon Typestar typewriter blast into orbit ("A new Typestar lifts off"), its "lift-off" correction key in turn lifting off from it, like a communications satellite out of the cargo bay of the space shuttle. Survey of Popular Culture

36 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw the "baby of today" in the "diaper of the future" (actually old-fashioned 100 percent cotton!) orbit about the Earth in the arms of a New Age father whose legs-- evidently his means of cosmic propulsion--dissolve into beams of light. Survey of Popular Culture

37 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw Concept Custom Length electric guitar strings ("The Final Frontier" in guitar strings) advertised by an image of a spaceman strolling the lunar landscape, an American flag planted in the moon to his left, the Earth visible in the background; and I saw Kahler guitar strings, in comparable "far-out" imagery, become in effect the orbital path of a space vehicle made of tuning pegs. Survey of Popular Culture

38 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw the Nady Systems Lightning Guitar and Thunder Bass-- instruments with "the right stuff"-- billed as the first electronic guitars of the Space Age and advertised in copy divided into sections entitled "Countdown," "Liftoff," "All Systems Go," "Ground Control," and "Link Up" and in the usual "product in orbit" imagery; and I saw the Carvin V220 guitar blast off from Earth in an ad whose headline proclaims the instrument to be "One Step Beyond." Survey of Popular Culture

39 Space Boosters --I saw an ad for a Kenwood stereo satellite receiver announce the company's proud claim that "after conquering Earth, we headed into space." (An image from the Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians [1959] appears at the top.) "We've been a force in home and car audio on this planet for over 25 years. But now we're aiming even higher." "Get on board now," we are warned in a class Space Age threat. "Or get left behind.” Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

40 Space Boosters --I saw a space colonist, showered by the spores of a huge, menacing flower on an alien planet, plagued by allergies ("No matter where you go, there's going to be pollen"), at least until he uses Contac. --I saw us encouraged to give to the college of our choice through an image of a young boy in a Day the Earth Stood Still space suit and his dog standing beside a space capsule / doghouse accompanied by the following text: Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

41 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y Today he's off exploring the back yard. Tomorrow, he may be off exploring new galaxies. But before kids of today can conquer the frontiers of outerspace, they'll have to conquer the complexities of mathematics, physics and chemistry. That's where you come in. For only with your help can they be assured of the first-rate college education they'll need.... Survey of Popular Culture

42 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y So please invest in the future. Give generously to the college of your choice. You'll be helping launch America to a successful future."Help him get America's future off the ground," the public service advertisment's headline pleads. Survey of Popular Culture

43 Space Boosters --I saw a woman, once "in the dark about blinds," open her Levelors --blinds "enlightened by Space Age technology"--to watch, as if from the Archimedean point, an Earthrise. --I saw a woman in Sheer Energy slippers blast off from the Earth's surface--finally able, with their support, to overcome the harsh demands gravity has placed on her feet and distance herself from its draining effect on her energy. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

44 Space Boosters Brought to You B(u)y --I saw a new breakfast cereal from Ralston-Purina called Freakies--marketed as "multigrain... crunchy honey-tasting spaceships with marshmallow"--offer "out of this world fun with earthly nutrition.” Survey of Popular Culture

45 Space Boosters --I saw the legendary Barbie herself enter into space. "Barbie's on the Moon," proclaimed the cover of an issue of Barbie magazine, and there she was, in her "Astronaut Barbie" manifestation. (Later, in the "Barbie Drama" section, I learned that being the first woman on the moon was all a dream, though a spacy date with Ken at the "Lunar Lounge" made it all come true!) Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

46 Space Boosters --I saw in a Space Age toy store a new line of dolls called the Shimmerons, a species of alien Barbie clones. "Lacy- Spacy--Out of this World... Space Cadets" with spindly bodies and sparkling wardrobes, they have come to Earth--according to their back-of-the package mythology --because our planet offers not only the cosmos' best shopping but also the most awesome parties! ("What on Earth are they doing here? Well the Shimmerons wanted to discover why the Planet Earth is number one for teenage fun, and show you how fun is done on the Planet Shimmeron." "Here on Earth, the Shimmerons are discovering skateboards, hot dogs, rock music, and shopping malls!") Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

47 Space Boosters --I saw us encouraged to "Expect the World of ABC News," for, as their advertisement--showing the Earth from space, coupled with a cosmic telephoto lens and an extraterrestrial Peter Jennings--made clear, the network evidently covers the planet from the Archimedean point. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

48 Space Boosters --And I saw that entrepeneurial plans are afoot (I cite but three examples) (1) to bury people in space (several companies have marketed such schemes, one of which involves a three-hundred-pound spacecraft containing no fewer than fifteen thousand "cremains" launched into polar orbit ["Ashes of the Stars"]); (2) to offer extraterrestrial vacations (Davies; "Orbital Jaunts" 32-33); and (3) to develop robotic "space pets" (Liversidge). Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

49 Space Boosters Space has, no doubt, been sold to us along with our meat and potatoes for some time now. As early as the 1960s, space ads--like those represented here--exhibited most of the ascensionistic cliche 's we find in later ones. Nor is the cosmic exaggeration of such advertising really new. It can be understood as an extension of what Daniel Boorstin describes as "Booster Talk: The Language of Anticipation," a way of speaking about things in which "what may be is contemplated as though it were in actual existence" (Boorstin is quoting an early nineteenth-century British observer of American ways). Booster Talk is not misrepresentation--or at least it does not seem that way to Americans--but rather a kind of clairvoyance, "not exaggerating but only anticipating--describing things which had not yet 'gone through the formality of taking place'" (Americans ). But why, in the decade of the space shuttle, did the pace and intensity of the pitch increase so prominently? Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

50 Space Boosters Interestingly enough, in 1965 the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci found the possibility that space might be marketable beyond belief. In If the Sun Dies ), she contemplated the possibility that the astronauts might be commercialized but is told by a NASA spokesman that the idea is ludicrous: "Can you imagine a billboard in Times Square with a photograph of [Gordon] Cooper [one of the original Apollo 7 astronauts] smoking a certain brand of cigarette? The cigarette of space! Up in space Gordon Cooper smokes only... Inconceivable! None of them...." This was, of course, years before an astronaut became head of a major airline, and famed test-pilot (and hero of Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff) Chuck Yeager lent his image in support of his favorite spark plugs. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

51 Space Boosters Even as she wrote, Fallaci herself was already helping to advertise space. She confesses, "When I returned to Milan I stuck up in my study a huge map of the moon that had been sent to me by the advertising office of Nestle's Powdered Milk. On the Mare Copernicum was printed: Feed Your Babies on Nestle's Powdered Milk, but it looked beautiful to me." Only two years later Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey demonstrated conclusively, with its open display of brand names in extraterrestrial settings, that "space was finally going to be conquered by Coca-Cola and AT & T."2 And by 1970, when Norman Mailer published Of a Fire on the Moon, it had already become apparent that "a new kind of commercial was being evolved. NASA was vending space" (45). Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

52 Space Boosters But only in the 1980s did the vending become blatant: a prominent feature of our cultural landscape. (As Andre' Marchand's Advertising the American Dream shows, advertising "paved the way" for all that we think of as modern; now it paves the way for the postmodernism of the extraterrestrial.) "The master fantasy of the Reagan era," which informs the "little utopias" of the Space Age advertising chronicled here, may now be, as Todd Gitlin suggests, "the fantasy of thrusting, self-sufficient man, cutting loose, free of gravity, free of attachments" ("We Build Excitement" 143). Implicit in most advertising, according to John Berger, is the following hidden transaction: "The spectator-buyer is meant to envy the person he will become if he buys the product. He is meant to imagine himself transformed by the product into an object of envy for others, an envy which will then justify his loving himself." Thus, Berger concludes, the "publicity image" of an advertisment "steals love of oneself as one is, and offers it back for the price of the product" (134). Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

53 Space Boosters Is it too much to say that the Space Age advertisements catalogued here--which sell, in a package deal, not just mascara, or a Betamax, or Big Macs, but a hyperreal longing for space- steal--or seek to steal, not just our love of ourselves, but our very earthliness? But it does not, as in the normal marketing dialectic, then offer it back. In a "bait and switch" duplicity, it would rob us of it permanently. And we seem so ready and willing to have it stolen. As Boorstin observed (in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America) at the very beginning of the Space Age, Americans are ruled by a powerful will-to-illusion. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

54 Space Boosters When we pick up our newspaper at breakfast, we expect-- we even demand--that it bring us momentous events since the night before. We turn on our car radio as we drive to work and expect "news" to have occurred since the morning paper went to press. Returning in the evening, we expect our house not only to shelter us, to keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but to relax us, to dignify us, to encompass us with soft music and interesting hobbies, to be a playground, a theater, and a bar. We expect our two week vacation to be romantic, exotic, cheap, and effortless. We expect a faraway atmosphere if we go to a nearby place; and we expect everything to be relaxing, sanitary, and Americanized if we go to a faraway place. We expect new heroes every month, a new literary masterpiece every week, a rare sensation every night.... Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

55 Space Boosters We expect everything and anything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical.... We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly... to revere God and to be God. Never have people been more the masters of their environment. Yet never has a people been more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could possibly offer. (3-4; my emphasis) Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

56 Space Boosters When Boorstin wrote these words in the early 1960s, he thought he was speaking figuratively. In 1983, I went to see E.T.: The Extraterrestrial in a movie theater in Huntsville, Alabama (a city which, because it is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, takes pride in its nickname: "The Rocket City"). At this, my second viewing of Steven Spielberg's touching story of the triumph of the values of the heart, I watched with interest a preliminary commercial for Atari (screened before the film, I surmised, because producers and distributors had convinced the game company the demographics of a typical E.T. audience indicated openness to such a sales pitch). In the ad-- which exhibited special effects not unlike Tron's--a young man sits, back to the camera, dreaming up ideas for video games, and the games he invents miraculously materialize around him, filling the screen. As his dreams become wilder and wilder, as he imagines "Asteroids" and "Space Invaders," he finds himself floating--as does the audience--in interstellar space. Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture

57 Space Boosters The image is a common one now, of course; I'd seen it all before. But it struck me that day in that context that it presented an ironic counterpoint to the evocative tale of homesickness I was about to watch. Here, during a single Space Age afternoon's entertainment, I was being asked to imagine myself as unearthly, and then to feel the pathos of a poor alien creature trapped far from home. I suspect that, against its own better wisdom, E.T. has promoted in many of its viewers not that supreme value which E.T. himself cannot live without--the need for a place, for a home--but rather extraterrestrial urges. The desire to become precisely that which tortures E.T., robbing him eventually of his very life (at least momentarily), extinguishing his heart-light, the longing to become homeless and displaced ourselves, is so prominent now, so much an everyday search image, that it would not surprise me if many viewers of the film--if they could trade places with Elliott--might reply affirmatively to E.T.'s petition at the movie's close to "Come." Brought to You B(u)y Survey of Popular Culture


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