Cadillac and the American Dream
Tags: class, consumption/consumerism, marketing/brands, marx/marxism, nationalism, theory, american dream, commercial, ideology, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Ideologies are sets of ideas and beliefs through which people make sense of the social world. Ideologies are always related to power, with dominant ideologies reinforcing existing power relations. The American Dream is a particularly powerful ideology that reinforces class relations by perpetuating the belief that anyone who works hard can be economically sucessful (despite the overwhelming evidence of how class inequality shapes economic outcomes). This car commercial illustrates this ideology with a discussion of the excellence that has come out American garages: "The Wright brothers started in a garage, Amazon started in a garage, Hewlett Packard started in a garage ... the Ramones started in a garage. My point? You never know what kind of greatness can come out of an American garage." It suggests that anyone can do great things from humble beginnings, a fundamental element of the American Dream. The emphasis on "American" suggests that this idea is a uniquely American characteristic, even though upward mobility is more common in other developed countries. The ad goes on to show a Cadillac literally and metaphorically emerging from an American garage, thereby using notions of the American Dream to appeal to consumers' aspirations and nationalistic pride. It is not only an attempt to sell both Cadillac cars and attach those meanings to its brand, but also reinforces viewers' sense of the American Dream as reality. However, this association begs the question: Who does the American Dream apply to? In reality the American dream is not for the poor, but for the rich. Furthermore, it is not just the corporations that utilize the American Dream to market products to society; politicians and public figures often utilize images of the American society to convince people to support public policy, similar to how it is being used in this car commercial. For a scathing critique of the American dream, see this clip from George Carlin.
Submitted By: Kelsey Gallaher
3/30/2014 08:22:40 am
Here is another Cadillac ad that depicts American culture:
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