Jack Solomon's Essays: Paradox In American Identity

641 Words3 Pages
Kirstie Smith Professor Hancock English 111.049 1 September 2009 In 1988, Jack Solomon wrote an essay in which he explores a paradox in American identity. Solomon theorizes that although Americans desire acceptance and belonging, they also embody a competitive nature; striving to achieve higher status than the average individual. The essay classifies the need to fit in as populist, and the desire of rising above the population as elitist. Solomon analyzes the role advertising plays in these qualities. An advertisement for Malibu Rum ran in Cosmopolitan magazine in 2009. The ad entails an average neighborhood street with grey houses and matching cars. In the midst of the identical houses lies a brightly colored house displaying a…show more content…
He reveals that such qualities already reside in everyone, and advertisements simply tap into these innate sensibilities. In concordance with Solomon’s essay, advertisers appeal to one’s subconscious emotions rather than merely advising him/her to buy the product (525). By showing contrast between the house representing the Malibu logo and the others, the Malibu Rum ad encourages individualism. It uses color to portray the Malibu house as lively and fun, as opposed to dull like its neighboring homes. Therefore, he who drinks Malibu Rum is also livelier than his fellow citizens. Solomon emphasizes that “the competitive nature of democratic societies breeds a desire for social distinction, a yearning to rise above the crowd” (526). Elitist ads turn products into indications of success; the product one purchases reflects his/her social status. In this case, Malibu Rum is the consumer’s ticket to social superiority. For Instance, “we Americans dream of rising above the crowd, of attaining a social summit beyond the reach of ordinary citizens” (Solomon 525). The ad’s purpose is to appeal to the elitist traits that lie within everyone; the longing to become the life of the party. One’s elitist tendencies urge him/her not to conform to society’s

More about Jack Solomon's Essays: Paradox In American Identity

Open Document