Advertising Has a Part To Play In America’s Gun Violence

By Egotist / /

A big part actually.

I already hear people bitching, whining, cocking shotguns in my general direction, and that’s to be expected when you start pointing the finger; especially when the finger is pointed our way.

But hold on. This thought may not be as ridiculous as it first appears. In fact, the more I talk to people about it (and I mean people who are actually open to debate, not the uber-right wing, NRA extremists who refuse to acknowledge the fault of guns in any mass shooting), the more it makes sense.

First, let’s look at the reasons why people commit these mass shootings, or go off the rails and shoot someone, and/or themselves.

According to most politicians, mental illness is the answer. Apparently, anyone who does anything like this is mentally ill. Well, certainly state of mind plays a part, but there is a strong difference between people who have genuine mental illness, and people who are just fucking pissed off with the world, and want to go out in a blaze of gunfire.

The statistics back this up. John Oliver covered this in depth on his show a few weeks ago, and there is a lot of evidence to support it. Mental illness accounts for only a handful of gun violence cases, and most of the time, people with mental illness are the victims of gun violence. And by the way, both men and women have mental illness. Where are all the lunatic women shooting up schools and churches? So, let’s move on.

There is the leftist claim that all guns are bad, and because they’re so easy to get, people just buy them and go around shooting other people. Well, clearly that’s not the case either; just look at Switzerland. A gun has no influence on a person’s state of mind. It’s a dangerous weapon, but it has to be fired by someone, for some reason. No one has walked past a gun store and thought, “well shit, I think I’ll go shoot up a school next week.”

So, why is America plagued with mass shootings and gun violence?

The answer, or possible answer, is advertising and the media.

Think about it. Before the meteoric rise of advertising in the sixties, people in the US were happy with their lot in life. They had one car, a small house, the things they needed, and that was pretty much it.

But you can’t sell people shit if they’re happy. One of the main goals of advertising is to create a need. Make a hole, and fill it up. As a business, we tell people that their lives suck with the things they have right now, but man, it would be so much better with this car, or this beer, or this Jacuzzi you’ll spend five grand on, use once, and sell on Craigslist a year later for $100. We throw images at people of a life they could have, if only they would open their wallets and fork over the cash.

Over the decades, this kind of advertising has become pervasive. Now, we have reached the point were almost everything we do points out what’s wrong with the lives consumers currently lead, and what they can do to fix it. And we also show people the most unobtainable lifestyles.

Beautiful men and women are everywhere in advertising. Really, really beautiful men and women. “Hey you, yeah you over there. See this hot chick? She might just want to blow you if you start drinking this vodka.” Then you go to a bar, order that vodka, and get snubbed all night.

“But you said the hot chicks would want me?!”

“Nah, it was really more of an implication, and a dumb one at that. You really bought that idea? You fuckin’ moron. But you know, if you buy this leather jacket, you may have a shot with this Victoria’s Secret model.”

Bill Hicks once said that he one day expected to see an ad that featured nothing but a beautiful naked woman, sitting in a chair, her legs spread, with the words Drink Coke right between them. And he knew he was buying Coke that night.

The fantasies we create are everywhere, and they’re constantly trying to outdo each other. But look around you. How often does that fantasy come true? We are giving people dreams, and then everyday life is shattering them. We create a society filled with people walking around saying, “my life is shit, I don’t have any of that, it’s not fair, it’s not FAIR! SOMEONE NEEDS TO PAY!!”

And then, some of those people hit a life crisis. They lose a job, or break up with someone, or have a crisis of conscience. That’s when the loose gun laws in this country come into play, and why this is happening here. We create a society filled with angry, entitled assholes, and give them easy access to insane firepower. We taunt. We nag. We tell people “you need this.” And when they can’t get it, because the economy is in the shitter and the top 1% are taking more of the money and the jobs, they crack.

In fact, one of the shooters actually said he shot people up because he could never get those beautiful girls. The ones we insist on putting in every ad, laughing, smiling, and seducing. Teasing, but never delivering.

Am I saying advertising is solely responsible? Of course not. The culture of celebrating money, beauty, and possessions goes deeper than that. But my god, we’re certainly not helping. There is also the age-old “you are awesome, you can do anything, you can be anyone” attitude that is instilled in us from day one. Everyone in school gets a medal. Everyone gets a prize. No one is left behind. Until, of course, we grow up and find out that there are indeed winners and losers, and most of the time, we don’t win.

But if we are going to solve this problem, we have to look at the cause. Gun availability is an issue. A big issue. But what is making people use these guns in mass shootings so often? That is a state of mind. And we are on a mission to fuck with that state of mind, day in, day out, to sell more shit and make a bunch of rich assholes even richer.

Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you’re ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He’s been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.