In the Media: What do we actually care about?

Go watch this 30-second anti-smoking video.

In this video, a man and a woman see each other in a social situation and eye each other from across the room. The man works up the courage to go over to the woman, and he leans over to say something in her ear. As he leans over, he gets a whiff of her, and immediately backs off. She pulls out a cigarette and the caption reads: smoking stinks.

There are many anti-smoking commercials out there which detail the dangers of smoking on our health. But there are also many others which demonstrate how smoking can be damaging to beauty.

PETA has many ads out which also appeal to beauty:




Not all of PETA’s ads are of the “you need to lose weight so you should go vegetarian to do it” type, but some of them are. And that’s because it’s effective. Our society finds a great appeal to anything that tells us you’ll be more beautiful and therefore more loved and accepted if you…

We can learn very much about ourselves and the way that we think by looking at the reflection of these thoughts in the media. Billboards and commercials are not just thrown together; they are carefully planned and determined by how the viewers will respond. And we are all about the obsession with “beauty”—whatever “beauty” is, anyways.

Regardless of how offensive we might find one ad over another, there is always a reason for why the designers of these ads created them in such a way. And that reason is perhaps because we will react strongly. Whether we agree with what the advertisement says or not, we’ll talk about it (like I’m doing right now). We might even start to think about beauty in terms of their assumptions about what beauty is. All of this could contribute to the success of such a campaign.

What sort of lenses have you noticed that the media is peering through lately? Do you find that it is an accurate display of what we prioritize?


  1. […] – Looking at anti-smoking commercials and controversial PETA advertisements to understand how they are a reflection of what we care about. […]

  2. This reminds of a paper I just had to do an exposition on in philosophy by Richard Rorty. It’s a tough read but discusses how this kind of medium is perhaps the only way to change to the world for better human rights. He’s full of crap, though.

  3. Alana- heh. Well it gets the word out there; I’m not sure if people respond very positively towards it…

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