This weekend, I just realized how much I have been standardized by the American mass media and culture.
I did not care, at all, about Super Bowl and its advertising three years ago. But look at myself today, I am as “passionate” as everybody else; I watched the ads one by one, and can’t wait to discuss it with my fellows – I have been standardized!
I still remember three years ago, that Monday after the Super Bowl weekend, one professor asked us to discuss Super Bowl ads in class. I didn’t watch it, so I couldn’t join the conversation, and I thought it was ok for me to not watch it. But the most important thing is, I didn’t get it – I didn’t understand why everybody all watched it and seemed to be so enthusiastic about it. As a full born Chinese, all I knew about Super Bowl was that it is about professional football and it is huge, and it costs lots of money to advertise during the break. The next moment in class the professor joked: "as an advertising major, it is almost a sin to miss out Super Bowl ads.” The very moment I felt I was “enlightened”. “So this is what I need to do to fit into the group!” I told myself. That day after I went back home, I opened YouTube and watched all the Super Bowl ads of that year, and tried to form an opinion about each one. I also joined the discussion activities held by my college during the next few days. Frankly speaking, by that time, I was not that impressed by these ads, but I knew they are important, so I have to study it. Personally, I think there are a lot of ads that are much better than those appeared on Super Bowl and worth studying.
Today, all my critical thinking and doubts are gone. I don’t questions the Super Bowl fever anymore. I accepted the fact that this is a big thing for advertising people. Although I am a foreigner and I still don't understand football, I am in this country and I have to fit it by doing what they do.
It is these two weeks’ reading that made me re-think about socialization and cultural assimilation process I have experienced. Mass media really played a vital role in such process, and it is really powerful. Even a total foreigner can be transformed into a “typical U.S. advertising student.” To me, the interest we have (especially as advertising students) towards the Super Bowl ads, is a kind of ” standardized enthusiasm” that Adorno pointed out. We have always been educated in a way that values critical thinking and questions taken-for-granted things. But, look how we have been manipulated and standardized, and hypnotized today. This not only produces “pseudo-individualism”, but also a “pseudo-diverse” culture of today.