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Q&A on Jack Solomon's 'Masters of Desire'

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Reading the Text
1. Describe in your own words the paradox of the American dream, as Solomon sees it.
The paradox of the American dream according to Solomon is two faces. One is the social superiority and the other is social equality. In other words, one is competitively elitist and the other is communally egalitarian. Everyone wants to be popular and fit in with the social standings.
2. In Solomon’s view, why do status symbols work particularly well in manipulating American consumers?
Status symbols work so well because they are a sign that identifies their possessor of their place in society. I guess you could say Americans want to relate to someone who is wealthy, famous and gorgeous. Who wants to appear like the homeless man?
3. What is a “guilt” ad (para. 32), according to Solomon, and how does it affect consumers?
A guilt ad is one that works on the viewer’s emotions. It takes a “guilty” person and offers them the product as a way of redeeming themselves. Just like the “Ring around the Collar” commercials where the mother acts like it is a sin for her children to have dirty collars. In steps Wisk to save the day and the mother’s life. It is the product that appears to be the winner.
4. Why, in Solomon’s view, has McDonald’s been so successful in its ad campaigns?
According to Solomon, McDonalds has been so successful in its ad campaigns because of its desire to appeal to people of all ages. It didn’t use just one commercial ad for its campaign but multiple ads that reached out to each age group. The appeal to children and elderly alike made it a place for the whole family to want to go and eat at.
5. What relationship does Solomon find between the “new realism” (para 37) of some ads and the paradoxes of the American dream?
The “new realism” is the theory that this is the real thing. There are no gimmicks and no acting in these ads. All you get is the sincere advertisement of the product. The issue here is that the American dream is a fantasy and who wants real? The relationship that Solomon finds is even though they say it is a realist commercial, it is a contradiction in terms there is no such thing. It is still trying to buy your loyalty.

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