Little Circus to the Big Show
P.T. Barnum is a man who unquestionably changed the world of entertainment within America’s culture. He used a principle business technique of “rational recreation” that would end up becoming a national “norm” for American families everywhere. He would take the thematic archaisms of dramatic plays and mix them with the upstanding ideals of individual and family. This type of script writing would allow for his succession of new brand of entertainment. One great example is Barnum’s dime museum which featured tightrope artists and “educational” depictions of biblical events surrounding them.
The 1860’s to the 1890’s was the beginnings of a new modern-day enlightenment, comparable to that of the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries. In that time however, their movement was one of intellectual ideas in Europe. They would use reason to pull themselves from the dark ages, question traditional authority and embrace the possibility that humankind could be improved through logical and rational change. The difference between then and our contemporary renaissance that we have experienced in our times is one that has embraced technology (like phones and television) in the place of logic and reason.
Broadcasted and televised mass media arrived on the scene in the 1890’s. The first entertainment pushed to the public was boxing matches set in store-fronts or a burlesque scene in one of many penny arcade peep show boxes. These along with candy machines, coin-operated phonographs, and fortune telling games. The ultimate push by media moguls here was to give the busy working man quick doses of instant gratification. It worked. In 1905 the media giants would bring nickelodeon (short-films) to the big screen. These 10-minute segments would feature slapstick comedy and adventure. By 1910—full blown movie theatres (upscale) were offering classy amenities compared to that of the penny arcades.
Films would offer the American public visual stories of alluring love interests, criminal success, and power. This would further give the public an intimate-view of fantastic story’s told that resonated with the people in general. The result of this thought process is this: “I can live my life like that.” This pipeline of entertainment would end up fast tracking consequences for American society. Although filled with a “cross-cultural” appeal to all social classes in America, this form of entertainment would begin to loosen the fabric that would keep the country woven together. This new cultural acceptance of appearance, dress, music halls, and amusement parks became a mass commodity for everybody. And also a newly accepted necessity.
Eating It All Up
Fun, fashion, and fantasy goods would come out of the marketing and advertising piped through these entertainment fast-tracks. A release from traditional boredom and a new form of youthful energy. A gathering of individuality, liberty, self-expression would begin to subside during this period as the American public was underhandedly being silenced, separated, and increasingly brought-together by the “dream factories” in Hollywood and New York City. The mass change in public thinking related to this phenomena was more surprising to those in media and government than they expected. Fast forward fifty-years and the mass emergence of consumerism would show it’s face and TV would become a family member.
It is really important to mention this fact before continuing forward: By 1957, the average viewer was viewing 420 advertisements in one week. A lot! Considering the old hand-made function of advertising. One station would show 50-ads in two-hours on one station in 1964. The TV-set would become a nearly-perfect expression of American suburban family life. TV would come to project domestic family-lives inside of the home (according to Hollywierd) and also warn people of urban-dangers in action-adventure shows. All of this to culminate in enticing viewers through ads to shopping malls and fast-food joints. Ultimately, it would go to reinforce a new trend (established by the radio) of “living room privacy” and a new national entertainment culture.
American materialistic behaviors really started emerging forefront by the 1930’s; where the need for instant self-gratification and a certain emphasized want for individual attentions. For example, drive in’s, quick-serve diners, dance clubs, social clubs, pool-halls, the list could drive on! These venue’s all served as a catalyst for American materialism which foundationally expressed the new cultural ideas of America. These are certainly liberal ideas of a self-interest approach in a speedy lifestyle. This also resulted in enabling emphasis on certain unethical and immoral counter-principles, which has saturated our service based culture of liberty and democracy.
With little consequences from these self-destructive and humiliating behaviors; the result of this consumerist lifestyle is an American society filled with narcissistic, self-centered, attention hungry people—still all looking for more. They aptly look to make ends meet for financial gain in whatever way possible, all while continually propping up their unattainable dreams. The issue of societal division is of course in reference to the materialistic behaviors of Americans.
Instant gratification has caused the need for instant attention… and public “likes.” It seems that a majority of Americans these days living life by way of social media and television could definitely have the potential to be far more personable, thoughtful, skillful, creative, and generally well-rounded than they are nowadays. America has lost her majority wealth in human capital (people who have invested in themselves by formal education and work experience) to blatant irrational behavior, which as a result have become completely detrimental to society.
In The End It’s Blurred Lines
The typical American consumer is most impacted by the issues of social division. More importantly, targeted audiences are more susceptible to the further divisions that consumerism tends to fuel in people. American families nationwide are vulnerable to the social separation that consumer behaviors have result from. Further, negative moral and ethical marketing targeting men, women, and children alike have aggravated the issue.
Consumer behaviors as a result, have stoked individual forms of division through one’s own psyche; such as not living to moral and ethical personal standards set down by America’s founders. Often times it seems more and more often that individuals leave behind their family morals and values when out in the public scene. I mean, who hasn’t heard about a Wal-Mart fight on Black Friday?
It is important for the typical American to understand that consumer behaviors are not normal. In fact, Forbes is actually promoting the soul-killing marketing strategy of instant-gratification to other corporations world-wide. Is this not an attack on the family at home? It’s been blatant for quite some time. It is important to clarify that these associated consumerist behaviors creates no tolerance for delay in public (even private) venues.
Richard Sweeney, a University Librarian, wrote a report on consumerist behaviors in Millennial's and the social impatience further proving social division (and frustration):
“Millennial's, by their own admission, have no tolerance for delays. They expect their services instantly when they are ready. They require almost constant feedback to know how they are progressing. Their worst nightmare is when they are delayed, required to wait in line, or have to deal with some other unproductive process. Their desire for speed and efficiency cannot be overestimated. The need for speedy satisfaction, or as some believe instant gratification, permeates virtually all of their service expectations.”
The speed today that one takes in information is unprecedented with its resulting effect of consumer behaviors on the American public. Instant gratification is the result of globalizations far reaching effects on personal convenience. Receiving material and/or information at extremely fast speeds only exacerbates the personal issues for any American family; with an immediate effect on social impatience and a seemingly endless need for the self-gratification that instant information provides. It is with this blazingly fast speed at which information travels, that we as people keep our senses submerged in entertainment and distractions.
We need to understand how today’s marketing and entertainment effectively dis-enables individuals by constraining them intellectually, motivationally, and ethically. People tend to cut corners a lot more, to make their ends justify their means. This is an affecting consumer behavior, and as a result contributes to negative social divide. We live in a systematized world, and have been since the inception of McDonald's. This chain of systematization has further cut back on the need for human capital (educated people). The end result is the dumbing down (for lack of better words) of American society.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have discovered that the controlled information from syndicated network television stations, have led to an arbitrary intelligence decrease in individuals that spend two to three hours a day soaked in media. In terms of social media, it has desensitized individuals to what would be considered a “typical” social life. Impatience, self-gratification, and a desire for more pleasure – is by far the most typical of resulting consumer behaviors. I suggest collecting, reorganizing, and reinforcing upright moral and ethical values through daily contact with family members, friends, and stranger. It most certainly is one of the first-steps towards positive navigation through our American mess that we call society.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
Proverbs 14:34 says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people."
Daniel L. Smith,
 "Enlightenment." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed October 17, 2019. http://www.britannica.com/event/Enlightenment-European-history.
 Cross, Gary. "Setting The Course." In An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America, pp. 108-109. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
 Ritzer, George. "The Irrationality of Rationality." In The McDonaldization of Society, pp. 16. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2018.
 Wertz, Jia. "Why Instant Gratification Is The One Marketing Tactic Companies Should Focus On Right Now." Forbes. Last modified May 1, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jiawertz/2018/04/30/why-instant-gratification-is-the-one-marketing-tactic-companies-should-focus-on-right-now/.
 Sweeney, Richard. "Millennial Behaviors & Demographics." University Librarian, New Jersey Institute of Technology, December 2006, 10.
 "Watching Lots of TV 'makes You Stupid?" The Independent. Last modified December 3, 2015. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/watching-lots-of-tv-makes-you-stupid-says-american-universities-a6759026.html.