Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism

James B. Twitchell, Author Columbia University Press $83.5 (310p) ISBN 978-0-231-11518-6
Chronicling America's increasing absorption in materialism, ""the most shallow of the twentieth-century's various isms,"" Twitchell (Adcult) examines the cycle of conspicuous consumption. Comparing the influence of contemporary marketing and advertising to that of the Renaissance-era Catholic church, Twitchell, who is a professor of English at the University of Florida, contends that both ""sell peace of mind either in this world or the next."" He finds celebrity spokespersons such as Michael Jordan ""priests"" of marketing, the subject of ""hagiography"" in television commercials that are ""an almost perfect mimic of religious parable[s],"" which pay for sitcoms that instruct Americans in ""how branded objects are dovetailed together to form a coherent pattern of selfhood, a lifestyle."" Twitchell runs out of steam (and metaphors) halfway through the book as he discusses the evolution of branding and how shopping has become integral to the construction of the modern self, charging that infomercials and home shopping networks are the ultimate conspiracy, with their one-sided, two-dimensional falsely ""interactive"" setup. Though illuminated by some bright ideas, Twitchell's academese and arch stance make for some strained arguments. (June) FYI: This is the final volume in the nonfiction trilogy that began with Carnival Culture: The Trashing of Taste in America and Adcult: The Triumph of Advertising in America.
Reviewed on: 04/12/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Microsoft Reader Desktop - 310 pages - 978-0-231-50042-5
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-0-231-11519-3
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