To the Consumers’ Association of Ireland
Dear Sir or Madam,
Supportive of consumer rights, I would like to call your attention to the topic of subliminal advertising, on which I have made some research.
The following case studies from my blog [Index] deal with very recent paper advertisements, many of them advertising multinationals’ brands and designed for international marketing.
The subliminal techniques involved are akin to mental manipulation and likely to be detrimental to the consumer’s choice. What is to be done to prevent consumers from being subjected to such deceptive manipulation? (March 29, 2015)
Dear Flor, [Although I signed my full name Florent Boucharel, she calls me Flor because my email is flor.boucharel[@]gmail.com]
Thank you for your email. We would recommend that you contact the government body, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as they have the power to investigate companies. They can be contacted on 014 4025500 or http://www.consumerhelp.ie
Thank you for your reply. I don’t think the law forbids embedding the word SEX in advertisement photographs, which, as far as I have been able to ascertain since my attention was called to the practice, is the case in almost every paper advertisement these days. Since the law says nothing, a government investigation is out of the question. I believe this is what they will tell me. I was seeing more a campaign of opinion, and that’s why I reached out to your organization, in case you would find the matter relevant to consumer rights. (March 30)
& later (having no further news from Caroline)
In spite of your reply, I feel my mail has not received due consideration, especially since my blog statistics tells me you haven’t even thrown a cursory glance on one or two of the cases I have provided.
You know, I am sure, of those people who hold positions of responsibility and, when contacted about attendant matters, ask: “Why are you talking to me? Do we know each other?” (April 1)
To International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT)
Dear Sir or Madam,
Supportive of consumer rights and the important missions of consumers’ organizations, I would like to ask what your position is on the topic of subliminal advertising, on which I have made some research.
The following case studies deal with recently published advertisements (March 2015), many of them advertising multinationals’ brands and designed for global marketing. (April 4, 2015)
Hello, is anybody in? Here’s the taxpayer who pays you!
For the sake of accuracy, your name ought to be ICRNT: International Consumer Research and No Testes.
Horror movie The Exorcist, about a Catholic priest fighting the Devil in the good old ways, uses subliminal techniques. Hence the many faints, nauseas, mental collapses necessitating psychiatric intervention among theater patrons when the film was released. Yet horror movies had been played on the screens for decades and none had had such impact on the viewers, because those films did not manipulate unconscious mind structures with subliminal techniques. As an example, the soundtrack for The Exorcist was embedded with the sound of humming bees at subliminal level, in order to trigger panic. It was an experiment in mind manipulation. (For more details on the subliminal elements in The Exorcist, read Media Sexploitation, 1976, by Wilson Bryan Key. See also this blog’s Index for my series on Subliminals in published advertising.)
In Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology (1994) by Helmuth Nyborg, I find a paradox. It seems to me that a male androtype-1 should not choose an estrotype-1 as a spouse, since the latter will have, as Nyborg describes it, “higher libido” and the androtype-1 is not particularly well endowed in this respect. Hence, he should make a more “sex-stereotypic choice” with respect to finding a spouse, that is, he should depart from what Physicology predicts (that he will not be sex-stereotypical). What I mean by “should” is what he would do if he knew Physicology a bit. This is the paradox. The only solution to it, as far as I can see, would be that Physicology predicts that androtypes-1 do not object to their spouses’ promiscuity, nor to bringing up children sired by other men. A rather odd prediction in terms of evolutionary genetics.
Also, I would like to stress that our current “managerial elite” is recruited on personality criteria amongst which extroversion is perhaps the most important in the organization recruiters’ eyes. Which means the hormotype index of the American/European managerial elite is not likely to be 1 or 2 (maybe not even 3), nor it is this likely to be otherwise in the near future, whereas Nyborg claims that loner, intellectual androtypes are called to make up the elite.
To Hollaback! (In their own wods, ‘Hollaback! is a global, people-powered movement to end harassment. We work together to ensure equal access to public spaces.’)
Having seen on Internet a video of yours in which a young woman is filmed by a hidden camera walking in Manhattan, it reminds me of a news report on the same topic and with the same technique I saw a few years ago on French TV, and of my own situation even though I’m a man.
I live in Paris where I do quite a lot of walking, not seldom by myself. My experience is that some people feel free to abuse verbally, in a sneaky way, lone persons in the street whose outward appearance they happen not to like.
I have conjectured that many people, walking alone in the street, resort to listening to music or to calling someone on their mobile phone in order primarily to prevent their being abused in such a way, or at least to escape noticing it.
Some vulgarized notions of psychology likely will evoke a paranoid state of mind. The very idea of paranoia, however, may well contribute to the spreading of sneaky verbal abuse. (As a matter of fact, the person abused may even be abused by being called a ‘paranoiac’ by his or her surreptitious abuser.) (April 2015)
No answer. (My point, as the reader understands, is that harassment in the street is not limited to female victims. In my experience, verbal abuse not seldom comes from women.)
El Mallarmé «profeta» ha introducido intelectualismo en la poesía, y la poesía ha muerto casi. Todo ésto, las abstractas reflexiones o elucubraciones sobre el lenguaje y qué sé yo, es demasiado árido, y no muy riguroso tampoco como razonamiento y los filósofos lo hacen mejor.
There was in the past of Christian Europe a mighty enemy in the East: the Ottoman Empire. A mighty colossus, it nearly obliterated Christianity on several occasions, as when its armies besieged Vienna, twice. At the head of such powerful armies, numerous as the waves of the ocean, were the dreaded Janissaries, a slave brotherhood of Albanian origin. They were the gate-keepers of the Bab-i Ali. O what convulsions in the misty mountains of Albania, when this people too vindicated its freedom!
This video [Te Rrapi ne Mashkullore, sung by Irini Qirjako, with images from some (Albanian?) motion picture] shows scenes of the Albanian national struggle, here culminating with the assassination of a Turkish Basha or Bimbashi. The lyrics talk of a Bimbashi several times, as a portent of awesome and dreadful forces.
There is that taylor in my neighborhood, M..kan, an Armenian. I brought him a pair of trousers not long ago. He told me that with such fabric these trousers would last me ten more years. Now they have a big hole in the bottom. You can’t trust Armenians…
M..kan is the Devil. For one there’s his accent. It took me some time to understand at last what he says when he’s greeting me. He says “Ça va, mon ami ?” (Howdy, my friend?) and I was hearing something like “Ça va, Mehmet Ali ?” (Howdy, Mehmet Ali?) I thought he was mocking me in his nasty Armenian ways… He’s a stutterer. He says “Merci, mon-mon ami” (Thanks, my-my friend) and I hear “Merci, Mehmet Ali“, like he’s mocking me. Like the devil he is…
One day I needed to have my trousers enlarged at the waist. He said, “Okay but think about a diet, Mehmet Ali!” And he laughed. He’s the Devil…
Russian émigrés were all with Hitler, especially after Operation Barbarossa and the onslaught against USSR. They had brought the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Germany, they had brought them to the USA, even to Manchuria and Japan. There’s even a book which claims they are the true inspiration of Hitler and the Nazi party. Grand-dukes and grand-duchesses were with Hitler. The heir to the Russian throne was with Hitler (and he was spied upon by the Gestapo at the same time). All the former White army was with Hitler and joined the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS on the Eastern front. The popes were with Hitler. Czarists, Solidarists, Fascists were with Hitler. Georgians and Tatars were with Hitler and they fought the Résistance in Corrèze where my grandparents were living their humble lives (my grandfather was once taken hostage). Caucasian Muslims were with Hitler, and Stalin made them pay the price after the war.
I spent years collecting thousands of names of people involved on the side of Nazism and Fascism, from every country: Cossack White Army officers, Albanian gurus of mystic tariqas, French anarchists, Australian aborigines (true!), Afro-Americans, Indian nationalists, Indonesian nationalists, Khmer nationalists, Pu Yi the last emperor of China, Turkish Turanians, British aristocracy, the then King of Sweden and his son the present King of Sweden, Knut Hamsun, the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser of Egypt, the Shah of Iran and the future Ayatollah Khomeini, etc. etc. A long list. I spent years on it, I don’t know what to do with that work.
De hecho yo no había escuchado la canción Aviateur, cantada por Véronique Jannot, hace desde muchos años. Me la propuso YouTube, al escuchar yo otra cosa. Entonces me volvieron memorias de mi niñez. No son memorias de mi casa porque mis padres no miraban programas de televisión populares, con canciones y tales cosas. Pero, de vacaciones, nos quedamos con mis hermanos en la casa de abuelos o a veces de tíos, en el campo. Gente más popular y no tan educada como mis padres, y ellos miraban esos programas populares, y nosotros con ellos. Y me gustaba, de niño. Después, de adolescente, ya no me gustaba el campo. Me aburría, no podía hacerme amigos con los jóvenes, aunque me enamoré de una morena, cuyos padres tenían un comercio de bicicletas. Era una tontería. Le declaré mi amor y, como ella no cayó en mis brazos al oírlo no más, lo abandoné todo. Una tontería, pero era bonita la hija del vendedor de bicicletas… De adolescente, las vacaciones en el campo eran malas. De niño era otra cosa. Gente sencilla, televisión popular, una Francia que tal vez aún ya no existe.
Véronique Jannot and I are of the same breed, de pelo y ojos castaños. But her very artist name (if it’s not her real name) is a joke, because it alludes to Jeannot Lapin*. I want to make clear that this sort of popular culture has something very shallow about it, which makes it unbearable to refined minds. Only the exhaustion of a working life can create a need for that kind of shallow entertainment.
*D’après internet, Jannot est son vrai nom. Elle aurait dû choisir un nom de scène plus glamour : Véronique Davies, Véronique Crawford-Jones, Veronica Lamborghini…
Pearl of the Mediterranean
Where will I find you now?
The lemon trees
What fills my eyes with tears?
O the sea at Mersin!
Fragrances like attar of rose…
jarabe de rosa beberé
almíbar de rosa saciará mi sed ardiente
miles de mirtos para tenderle arropes suaves
Encantadora es la rosa en el jardín de luna
Canta, bello ruiseñor, por la rosa que te llena de dulzura
In France the name Fatma was used as a common name to designate a North-African girl (as there are many migrants from North Africa in France). For example: “Did you see that fatma?” Then it designated any girl, whatever her background, for example: “Did you see that fatma?” And then it came to be abbreviated as “fat,” (prononcer « fatt ») for example: “Will there be fats at that party?” (Il y aura des fatts à cette soirée ?) At least that was so in my teens.
I distinctly remember occurrences when the word was used by my friends and myself (by the way we were all white, middle-class teenagers). For instance, during a summer vacation in Spain we used to call Spanish girls “fats” among us. And there’s a joke. While we were in Spain, near Valencia, there were several days of feria with bulls, “toros.” Several toros were involved and they had a leader, so to speak. One day, one of our group, talking about this leading bull, called him “le taureau mère,” as we talk of a “vaisseau mère” (mother-ship) in a fleet of ships. But “mother-bull” was really ridiculous, so we laughed and someone said: “You mean ‘le taureau fatt’ (the fatma-bull)!”
But we didn’t say fatma to girls, they would have beaten us up.
3 Poems to O.
You didn’t tell me you’d take my heart away.
You didn’t tell me you’d always be in my dreams, at the cost of a life. But what is a life worth comparing with such dreams?
You didn’t tell me that, because of my memories of you, I’d be like a madman always by my thoughts. But what worth is soundness of mind compared to such lunacy?
You didn’t tell me my memories of you would be more real to me than reality. But what is reality worth, you tell me, in the shadow of one memory like these?
You didn’t tell me there would be no more seasons but the summer of your smile.
You didn’t tell me there would be a never-ending day from the day on when you said: One plus one makes one. Did you say so, by the way, or is it my imagination?
You didn’t tell me you’d break my heart in two so that one plus nothing makes a funny two: a crazy man.
You didn’t tell me one is not just one but also the one and only, so this one can’t be counted like any other one because in a way this one is a bit too much – especially being away.
You didn’t tell me I’d have to know the effect of spending some time by your side and then (as a punishment for what crime?) I’d have to know the effect of spending my whole life and perhaps even an eternity without you.
You didn’t tell me it wasn’t just two people in a given place at a given time, but two people one of whom would be forever out of space and time.
You didn’t tell me that was just a serious game so that not only would I lose my bid but also I would lose my mind.
You didn’t tell me I was to be there with you for a few days and then you wouldn’t be by my side until the end of time. Yet that’s not too high a price because there can be no such thing as too high a price for what I’m talking about.
You didn’t tell me you’d make a fool of me and I would be glad. Had you told me, I wouldn’t have believed you, for I was a fool. Born to be a fool: that’s what you should have told me.
You didn’t tell me…
Yes but it’s only a dream.
–Yes but this is only a life.
Yes but what’s more precious than life?
–Yes but it’s made precious from dreams.
If I could see your eyes
Then you would see
The moonlight on the sea
(Your eyes the moon
My tears the see)
“When one comes to the ultra-modern profession of advertising, responded Schliemann, – the science of persuading people to buy what they do not want, – he is in the very center of the ghastly charnel-house of capitalist destructiveness, and he scarcely knows which of a dozen horrors to point out first.” (Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, 1906)
“Today’s superstars [superstar companies] are using modern science to push advertising into areas that have not been tried before, raising difficult ethical questions about what ‘free choice’ means in a capitalist economy.” (The Economist, September 17th-23rd 2016)
What these “areas that have not been tried before” are, is not to be gathered, however, from that issue of The Economist. They seem to discover advertising only today, more than a hundred years after Upton Sinclair talked of it as “the very center of the ghastly charnel-house of capitalist destructiveness.” Still, it is with this admission – by a fierce mouthpiece of capitalism – of the reality of some strange “science” at the service of advertising, “raising difficult ethical questions … in a capitalist economy,” that we are proud to introduce our new cases of subliminal junk.
Cases 103-108 are taken from Harvard Business Review, September 2016.
……………Case 103 BASF Bestiality
The model, a swarthy, scruffy, unshaven man seems to come out of a film on the Mexican Revolution. After having conquered “tierra y libertad,” he now enjoys the fruits of his labor on a land of his own, gazing with touching emotion at gorgeous sweet peppers he holds in his hands – his own peppers.
A table is set on the left side of the advert, with a salad bowl and a glass of what looks more like grenadine syrup than wine. After seeing this ad, for one thing BASF poisons will be associated in your mind with luxurious green goods and poor but dignified campesinos.
Then there is a subliminal embed in the glass of grenadine, which I have outlined. A naked woman is sitting on her knees. Her head is tilting back as a big dog sniffs her pussy; she expects him to lick her genitals. As the dog wears a necklace, it is probably her own pet dog, which she acquired to satisfy her lust in this way. This is bestiality. And it is offered you by BASF.
……………Case 104 Stanford Business School of SEX
This one for another top Ivy League university, and more specifically for its executive education department. The main character in the show, the man on the right, has a somewhat disheveled and thoroughly scruffy look about him – the very look that is abhorrent to all corporate organizations throughout the world. This is, however, good selling pitch, meaning: Take a break from the horrendous monotonousness of your dreary corporate life by enrolling to our program and be for a couple of days, or weeks, the bum you dream to be.
But the ad promises more than that. On picture 104-2 I have drawn a straight line to show what the man is looking at, namely the woman’s breast. Looking at her breast and grasping an invisible object in the air… First watch, then touch; he already has his hands in position, all it takes now is a 90-degree turn.
The woman is smiling at him, encouragingly. Besides, she could not escape his grasping if she wanted, because she is manacled. Her hands are tied together exactly like manacled hands, and her watch wrist provides the clear suggestion of manacles.
The man is thinking so hard about sexual acts with the woman that he is projecting laser penises from his brain (picture 104-2). One is just leaving his skull. A second one, very bright, is bolting toward her face. Below that one, a third penis, very fat, is about to reach her on the nose, where she will have to handle it to her mouth, I guess.
The third character is the loser you do not want to be. If you look carefully, he seems quite depressed. At first glance, you may think he is looking at and listening to the other guy, but in fact he just stares into space, brewing over the failure of his life. To the very hardcore sex action that is going to take place he will remain spectator merely, if anything; he is so much of a loser that he cannot even have enough spite to be willing to prevent it. As he sits quite close to the woman, she may be his girlfriend, actually. But his luck with her is over. You can’t be a loser and keep your sweetheart when the Stanford boy comes in.
…………….Case 105 Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science of SEX
The copy reads: “What did one doctor discover during the Ebola crisis? Herself.” And she is looking fondly at one of the above men’s bum. You see her looking at the top of the world, at the stars, you say she is a woman with dreams (read greedy ambition) determined to fulfill them and to be one of the worthies of this world. Which amounts – follow the straight line I draw – to finding a man with nicely-shaped buttocks. (She looks at the only one whose presence is primarily marked by his conspicuous buttocks.) And if you enroll at Rosalind, this is precisely what you will find at last. They promise. If you are already married, then you will find the man with whom to cuckold your husband at last. Promised.
……………Case 106 Harvard Business School of Hot SEX
“Great leaders never stop evolving.” I would never have imagined that great leaders looked like that. The man on the left is just ridiculous, with half-cooked Chinese noodles dangling from his hand. The man in the middle is a juggler: there is a small cake in equilibrium on top of his coffee cup. Jugglery is the specialty of circus clowns and was formerly that of court jesters and buffoons. The lady is actually running: only the tip of her right foot touches the ground, perhaps it does not even touch it – a movement she could not make if she were walking (the other foot has been cropped out of the picture so you can imagine it does not touch the ground either). Her overcoat almost seems to have fallen from her right shoulder (you need to look at it with attention to find out that both her shoulders are still covered), it does not cover the right side of her chest, and anyway she looks quite unkempt. Her right hand lies on a jacket button, which she may be opening, in the process of taking off the jacket. Her eyes are closed and she smiles, her face turned in the direction of the guys. She is in a state of sexual arousal or even in an act of solitary sex. Expecting more (in her never-ending evolving), she is running in her haste to reach the place of the three’s sexual rendezvous and such is her lustful haste that she is undressing while running.
Harvard Business School: last chance of hot sex for the desperate cases.
……………Case 107 Laugh & Suck
A funny cartoon, and it is signed SUCK.
……………Case 108 Bottega Veneta SEX
& a nice SEX embed for good measure. (You don’t even have to enlarge the pics to see it perfectly.)
……………Complements: My Life in Subliminals
Subliminals have been a major influence on my musical tastes. The first cassette tape I bought in my life was an album by band INXS, after seeing a couple of times their clip Need You Tonight (1987) on TV.
Then, the first laser disc I bought was an album by band Simply Red, after seeing a couple of times on TV their clip Something Got Me Started (1991).
Both were successful bands in my teens. Then, recently retrieving these clips on YouTube, I found the following.
Need You Tonight
The singer’s leather jacket, near the zipper, on the chest, sports the letters SEX, in chrome or something like that, vertically. The “embed” is not particularly hard to detect, and if I remember well I had detected it before buying the album. Even though, among the various subliminal techniques used in the film The Exorcist (1973), exposed by Wilson Bryan Key in Media Sexploitation (1976), there are flash images of a ghastly face; as the film-makers themselves explained, some people see these images consciously, others do not (in this way they intended to dismiss the idea that the technique is subliminal). It could be the same with the SEX here. If you’re not really watching the clip but rather listening to it while doing something else (as occurs with TV viewing, which is often done together with another activity), the letters on the jacket may escape your conscious attention. Be that as it may, let us say the SEX on the jacket is not subliminal at all and very obvious. This is still a case of using the written word as a way to “sex up” the show. As it seems, it is hot to sport the word SEX on one’s jacket. (Or is it cool, rather?)
To see if that would elicit reaction, I dropped a comment on YouTube in the form of a question: “Is it the word SEX I read on his jacket?” No reaction so far. I hope I haven’t spoilt the fans’ pleasure with an indiscreet remark.
Something Got Me Started
From 2:20 to 2:34 (instrumental) one hears a faint female voice speaking. However, what that voice says is not to be got at all. Here is the best example I have found so far of a subliminal technique in music/on TV: the voice can be heard, by attentive listeners, but the words never. And I bought the disc. The sequence occurs after a female voice has whispered “I really love you,” to which the singer reacts with an “Ooooh” of arousal. Both songs, by the way, make supraliminal use of whispers (“Come over here” at the beginning of Need You Tonight) – already the conscious content is highly eroticized in both cases.
Here as well I left a comment on YouTube: “From 2:20 to 2:34 one hears a faint female voice speaking, if you listen carefully. Can someone tell me what she says?” No answer so far. If you’re a sound engineer and intrigued by this too, please contact me because I am ready to pay for having these occult words deciphered.