Boorstins Rhetoric in Democracy

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Greg Probst Boorstin’s “Rhetoric in Democracy” Did you know that nine out of ten dentists prefer a certain type of gum? Have you ever heard such claims being made on the television, radio or seen in a newspaper? Yes, my friends, we have all seen elaborate examples of advertising in our own time. Daniel Boorstin wrote a book Democracy and Its Discontents, on this very subject. In his chapter, “Rhetoric in Democracy”, Boorstin discusses this history, style and use of advertising in America. As Boorstin explains, the history of advertising in American began in England. The chapter begins with a brief overview of history within the American culture. It began with advertisers persuading settlers to come to America from other countries, sometimes with somewhat overzealous claims. These could include fountains of youth, treasures and endless venison. Up until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries advertising was generally used in a reflective and educative manner. That is, an advertisement was used primarily to make the target audience reflect on the product or service, not necessarily to change their minds up front. After this point advertising changed entirely into a fashion by which advertisers sought to persuade their customers with “styles”. This may have been caused by a cultural change in consumers or just a change in perception of advertising. Whatever the cause, advertising was changed forever. Up to today, it is not necessarily the product you sell that matters, it is how you “sell” it Boorstin states that a customary style of advertising is to speak plain and talk big. One must use words that any of the unwashed masses can understand, while using sensationalism and creating an excitement for the product. A good example is, “You too, average Joe, can afford an outstanding Lamborghini!” As a Lamborghini is a sports car, with a somewhat lofty

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