Subliminial Messages Essay, Research Paper
“People are exposed to some subliminal stimuli at all times throughout life”
(Koponen, 97). A subliminal message is an insufficiently intense message used to produce a discrete sensation by influencing one’s mental process or behavior. “Subliminal stimuli range from those just below threshold to those that are infinitely weak” (Koponen, 97). The theory that human behavior can be controlled by messages that bypass conscious perception and operate directly on the unconscious mind in freighting.
“Though subliminals still scare many, they are sometimes marketed as a desirable means of contacting and tinkering with the subconscious” (www.subl.survives). Advertisers widely and frequently use subliminal messages because they find them successful in selling products. Then there are those advertisers who do not even use the method, nor believe in it.
“Some are convinced that subliminal advertising is, like the unicorn, a mythical beast” (Clark, 118). When selling an adequate enough product, there is no reason to us the messages. “You can’t make someone bark like a dog unless they want to” (interview). The use of subliminal messages by anyone is a, “secret attempt to manipulate one’s mind” (www.subl.survives).
As people in the United States struggled to make sense of a rapidly changing world, a controversial breakthrough in broadcast technology called subliminal projection index through the roof (www.hiddenPer). A very serious problem has developed. The reaction of the public to having subliminal advertising thrust upon them. Enough people were spooked by the prospect of subliminals invading their minds that it was only a matter of time before the nations leaders would be forced to grabble with the issue (www.hiddenPer).
Subliminal stimuli have been regularly used in the North American media for over twenty-five years without anyone getting wise to what was occurring. “Advertising firms produced the psychology of buying so thoroughly that they now knew exactly what made consumers tick” (Schudson, 88). The actual term ’subliminal advertising’ dates back, only to the 1950’s and was coined by an American market researcher, James Vicary. He claimed that he had ” discovered a way to reach people subliminally, by flashing advertising messages on a screen so briefly that although they weren’t seen consciously they made the viewers do as suggested” (Clark, 119). Many people reacted skeptically when first hearing of the technique, asking, “what’s the point of an ad you can’t see?” (www.hiddenPer). Vicary then conducted a six week test run at a theater in Fort Lee, New Jersey, that caused a noticeable increase in concession sales. The messages ” Eat popcorn” and “Drink Coke” blipped on the screen every five seconds throughout the feature films, appearing so briefly that the viewers did not consciously perceive them. The result of using the subliminals were the increased sales of Cola by eight-teen percent and of popcorn by fifty-eight percent. His Fort Lee subliminal projection test have become ” the stuff of urban legend, ad are frequently cited by people assert a brief in the effectiveness of subliminal persuasion.” “Vicary had planted the seeds of subliminal uproar” (www.vicarytells).
The subliminal mechanism that concerned most, was the ‘embed’ — a word, slogan, or symbol inserted faintly — so faintly it is not perceived – into advertisements (www.embedsevery). Embedded words and picture illusions are part of most advertising throughout North America today. Viewers will now get an idea of how scary the world looks for those convinced of the persuasive presence and power of subliminal ads. “Subliminals infiltrate our minds so often that as a culture, North America might as well be described as one enormous, magnificent, self-service, subliminal message parlor” (www.embedsevery). Subliminal meanings are often hidden in video.
“You cannot pick up a newspaper, magazine, or pamphlet, hear radio, or view television without being assaulted subliminally by embeds” (www.embedsevery). Beyond any question, the truth is that subliminal stimuli sells products. “The use of subliminal stimuli as a device for motivating audiences in the various media has reached a level of technical proficiency” (www.embedsevery). Visual embeds is a strong and frequently used language in advertisement as well as the media.
The basis of modern media effectiveness is a language within a language — one that communicates to each of us at a level beneath our consciences awareness, one that reaches into the uncharted mechanism of the human unconscious This is a language that today has actually produced the profit basis for north American mass communication media (www.embedsevery).
The word sex is the most frequently embedded word in American industry. “Sex is alive and embedded in practically everything” (www.subl.survives). Other words such as f*!k, c#?t, a!s, wh*?e, pr*!k, death are also used frequently as subliminal triggers to motivate purchasing behaviors. There are many areas where this method is used, such as in animated films by Walt Disney Company. In The Little Mermaid the castle on the cover reveals a male’s genital area (See picture #1). In The Lion King there is the presence of a wispy S-E-X spelled out in the fluttering of the stars in one scene.
Consider a cigarette ad that was designed to appeal to the women readers of Cosmopolitan Kent is a strong masculine name, suggesting a solid and distinguished WASP heritage. Simply change the vowel from “e” to “u”, however, and Kent becomes the phonetic word symbol for the female genital. Keep this in mind as we review Kent ads directed at both male and female smokers (www.embedsevery).
The positive effect of embeds is that the advertisers themselves believe that they are helping them sell their products. The negative effect of embeds is that they stimulate one’s mind without control. If the viewer looks hard enough, he/she can see some arguably suspicious objects in all sorts of unlikely places. ” Anyone who has ever looked for images in the clouds knows the technique” (www.subl.survives).
“Backmasking is the process of recording a message into music so that the message can only be understood if the song is played backwards” (www.backmasking). The sex of the speaker and the language spoken are the only two things definitely recognized in backmasked music. “Backmasking music tends to be scratchy, undefined, and indistinguishable” (www.backmasking). If they are told what the message says or supposedly says, we are more likely to hear the message.
“A controversial Nevada court highlighted the potential legal dilemmas that can arise during periods of subliminal hysteria” (www.subl.suicide). The families of two boys who committed suicide in 1985 sued Judas Priest, the bad boys of British heavy metal, for allegedly placing in a song a subliminal message – “Do it” – That the plaintiffs believed pushed their sons into suicide (See picture # 2). Judas Priest’s lawyers argued that in the first place, the band had no subliminal content on their album. Secondly, the defense argued, even if a subliminal were present, the power of such a message to move people to action has never been proven. Judge Whitehead reached the same conclusion. In his final ruling, in favor of Judas Priest, Whitehead stated his conclusions on the subliminal threat: “The scientific research presented does not establish that subliminal stimuli, even if perceived, may precipitate conduct of this magnitude the strongest evidence presented at the trial showed no behavioral effect of even anxiety, distress or tension” (www.subl.suicide). The positive effects of backmasking are if one puts in a helpful message in music, such as, those who are trying to lose weight or quit smoking. Messages like, “smoking’s disgusting” or “I’m thin”. The negative effect of backmasking are putting in messages that are unnecessary, such as, “death” or “kill”.
I would just encaurage you to keep a watch fully on this. I think with technology, the ability to modify tape in ways that we never dreamed before, both video tape as well as audio tape, I think that the kind of things that may not have occurred in the past could occur in the futures (www.subl.suicide).
Today the power of subliminals to motivate viewers and listeners remains unproven. Through research there have been many suggested positive and negative effects of subliminal messages. On occasion the power of one’s subconscious mind will override that of the conscious and affect the consumer’s actions. “Symbolic values related to these experiences powerfully affect behavior, while conscious awareness of these effects remains repressed” (Key, 263).
Subliminals are not prominent stimuli, reason many, but as a consumer and viewer, individuals should attempt to be more conscious of the fact that they exist.
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