Consumer culture and The Onion


The Onion is a publication that devotes its platform to satire and humor, mocking many more serious publications' works. They highlight the hypocrisy and irony that's seen in what's determined as "everyday news". In this passage, The Onion uses several rhetorical strategies, such as logos, ethos, and analogy to satirize the methods advertisement companies use to persuade consumers into buying their product. 

The Onion employs logos and analogy, in doing so they credit the further arguments they make and persuade people into buying the product. The use of reviews that represent the average viewer adds a sense of logic to the product. If someone like you buys the insoles and experiences a positive experience for such a cheap price, it’s worth the money. They use the aspect of money to convey that their product is more beneficial than others for the price that they’re offering, one of the reviews they present is that "the $19.95 insoles are already proving popular" and that customers who buy it are "hailing them as a welcome alternative to expensive, effective forms of traditional medicine"(53-55). In doing so they are spotlighting fast consumerism and the idea that cheaper is better. They use biased reviews of the product which leaves little room for critique. Geoff DeAngelis’s praises that the insoles are a better use of money than the alternative options, wondering why he should pay "thousands of dollars" for spinal realignment with "physical therapy” when he can pay "$20 for insoles clearly endorsed by an intelligent-looking man in a lab coat?"(65-68). By comparing their product to others, they make theirs look better than the alternatives offered, They mention that “while other insoles have used magnets and reflexology as keys to their appearance of usefulness, MagnaSoles go several steps further"(27-29). This influences the watcher into thinking that MagnaSoles has gone beyond for the consumer and that this new technology is the superior option for this type of product. 

Secondly, The Onion uses ethos to persuade the audience into buying the MagnaSoles shoe inserts. They present to the audience expert opinions on the product, promoting the improved quality it has on a person’s life. One of these experts is “Dr. Arthur Bluni”, who is the "pseudoscientist who developed the product for Massillon-based Integrated Products."(9-11). He states that the MagnaSoles “actually soothes while it heals” and restores “the foot’s natural bio-flow”(13-15) and is able to do so by utilizing “the healing power of crystals”(30-31). Since he’s a pseudoscientist, this statement has no actual scientific backing to it and crystals have not been proven to have any healing qualities to them. Another one of the experts is “Dr. Wayne Frankel” who was the "California State University Biotrician who discovered Terranometry". Dr. Wayne is a pseudoscientist who claims that “if the frequency of one’s foot is out of alignment with the Earth” it will have effects on the entire body(43-45). Dr. Bluni and Dr. Wayne are representing the experts that are frequently seen in commercials who are used to act as the authority endorsing the product. In a consumer’s eyes, if there’s a reputable source they’re more likely to purchase the product. The Onion then sprinkles large and complicated language into the testimonies of the “experts” to add authenticity to the product. By using convoluted wording they make the statements sound more intelligent and sophisticated, but in reality, the words jumbled together aren’t backed by anything. Terms like "isometrically aligned Contour Point"(12) and "the resultant harmonic energy field rearranges the foot's naturally occurring atom"(48-50) aren’t ones that the average viewer would be able to comprehend and register as anything other than scientific jargon. 

In conclusion, through exaggerated and satirized appeals, the Onion broadcasts the ways advertisements manipulate people into quick and cheap consumerism. By using amplified complex jargon, fake sources, and biased feedback they ridiculed advertisements who actually use these methods. Though the Onion’s publications are based on sarcasm and comedy, they effectively point out the absurdity of how today’s advertisements exploit the average consumer in veiled attempts of persuasion. 



 

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