The distorted mirror Essay Example

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Summarising The Distorted Mirror 2


This paper presents a summary of an article “The distorted mirror” which talks about the cultural and social consequences of advertising especially those not intended. It documents the works of major scholars in social science and humanities. According to these scholars advertising is environmental and intrusive having effects which are profound and inescapable. They argue that advertising is a promoter of irrationality, cynicism, anxiety, selfishness, sexual preoccupation, powerlessness and social competitiveness (Pollay,1986.p.6).It also talks about the prospects of research and its problems.

Many people have no knowledge of the effects of advertising. However it is formative in its influence since it is environmental. People experience it involuntarily and persistently. Pollay 1986 says that advertising commands behavior, changes attitudes and attracts people’s attention. It presents a model of behavior which is thought to be ideal and worthy to be followed by all. From the perspective of consumption though, it is ideal. It causes people to be indignant and doubtful. Teaching people to be extravagant has brought a change in their culture since it changes the culturally known tenets. Advertising promotes ecological problems and pornography which is moral rottenness. Ecological problems result from too much consumption which in turn results in pollution (Pollay,1986 p.9). Today’s advertising focuses on lifestyle

Language carries a lot of importance in culture and yet it is affected by advertising. Advertising change the language vocabulary and distorts the way of conception of reality. Distortion has made people cynics who hate advertising. Advertising is seen as acting like a mirror that reflects the present cultures. Advertising appears to be seducing people to lean towards materialism. It has weakened the family religion and education (Pollay,1986).

Acoording to Pollay (1986).Those who design advertising make it intrusive so that it can affect the consciousness of people and inner voices and prevent self awareness. The way adverts are presented makes people unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. In its appearance advertising contradicts religion and moral values. The society has been changed probably with advertising to a more urban, mediated and secular system .Those who in defense of advertising look at its economic benefits while those who speak against it focus on its social implications.

When talking about social character and advertising it becomes very hard to distinguish between the effect and the cause. There needs to be research according to various scholars to bring to the surface much about advertising (Pollay,1986.p.12.).It matters not even if it unveils embarrassing things. The unintended consequences of research are things that need to be treated with seriousness through more research. Research will have to focus on the ill effects of advertising and open up information which might not be desirable.


Advertising has been blamed for many things happening in society today. It promotes a culture of materialism and consumerism and destroys the moral fabric of society besides changing the cultural setting of societies. It creates models which seem to be the ideals to be followed by all people. In general advertising has had a negative effect on religion, education and family set up and has promoted many unwanted types of behavior which change the face of society and the world. Research into these claims against advertising is necessary even if there is no adequate data to base the claims on.


Pollay W. R. 1986, The distorted mirror: Reflections on the unintended consequences of advertising; journal of marketing April 1986.