Today, Americans are constantly saturated with commercials and slogans that tell the consumer what to buy, how to act, and how to look. They are also surrounded by the ideals that society has set for them. In the novel Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley uses his own characters and catchy slogans to show how influential advertising is in creating a uniform society with minimal creativity and an ingrained love of consumerism. This theme reflects the mindset American society today. The characters that are seen as being easily influenced by advertising, like Lenina and Henry, tend to not have much of an opinion and do not express unique creativity.
Brave New World introduces a number of characters that have grown up in a pre-packaged in a society that doesn’t allow for free thought and action. Each of these characters is literally made in a lab to be physically and mentally desirable in fulfilling certain duties. They are then conditioned with slogans that control their desires and ways of thinking. For example, Henry recites words to Lenina that “they had heard… repeated a hundred and fifty time every night for twelve years” to reinforce to themselves that “everyone is happy now”(Huxley 75). These people had been told so often that everyone was happy that it was second nature for them to believe it. This conditioning permeated every aspect of their lives to the point that they had a desirable response for nearly every possible situation. At a glance, this type of thinking might seem ridiculous and that it could only happen in a made up world, but, upon reflection, one can see that there are repeated standards that shape people in the U.S. too.
Integrated ideals for society are also found in America. While these ideals may not be repeated every night while people sleep, people still hear them constantly so that they find themselves believing that these ideals should outline the way that they think and act. Sir Ken Robinson created a TedTalk that addressed this issue of ideals, specifically when addressing what young people should want to do as an occupation when they are older. They are told that they shouldn’t focus on some things like dance and music because “they would never get a job doing that” (Robinson). Ideally children will grow up to become a lawyer, doctor, or at least an electrician if they can’t spend years in higher education. Children are restricted with what they should pursue based on what they have continually been told and what classes have been prioritized in school. While not everyone can be a dancer, not everyone should aspire for a traditional job, simply because they are conditioned into thinking that is what they should do.
Americans are also conditioned to rely on medications to the point where they may over-medicate. In his TedTalk, Sir Ken Robinson continues on his talk about education and job aspirations when he tells the story of Gillian Lynne, a now famous chorographer. As a child she was restless so her mom took her to a doctor and the doctor told the mother that she was a dancer and that she should be sent to dance school. Then he made a comical, but very true point, about how this ADHD behavior that “nowadays someone might have just given her some medication and told her to calm down” (Robinson). This is the sad truth of the American mindset and is what leads to the desire to escape from life. Medications can suppress the creative thoughts and actions of a person so that the person can more properly fit into society. While medication does have its advantages, it can be over done to the point where people look to this medication so they don’t have to face reality. This also applies to the addiction of other drugs so that people can escape from society. There is a want to suppress and escape.
Huxley addresses the problem of over-medication and drug abuse by showing how it affects the way that his characters see the world. People in his world take soma when they want to escape. Lenina does this on the reservation because she “felt entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday” (Huxley 142). When Lenina wanted to forget about a day that wasn’t really terrible, it simply brought her out of her comfort zone. In order to suppress emotions instead of living in the moment she desired to escape. It is something that Americans do now and is slowly climbing to the extreme level that Huxley depicted.
Along with the issue of medication, Huxley also addresses the issue of advertising and consumerism. Slogans were a major influence on the people in Brave New World and they would often recite them when justifying their actions. For example, while conversing with another girl about clothing, Lenina recited the slogan, “Ending is better than mending” (Huxley 50). This slogan is then reinforced when the girl mentioned how she loved Lenina’s bandolier and how her own 3-month-old bandolier was “an absolute disgrace” (Huxley 51). These girls, along with everyone else, are conditioned to want to be consumers. Not only this though, but the characters are told what they should want to buy based on their class. They have learned to buy new products whenever their old ones become outdated or damaged.
America has also become a society that is constantly surrounded by advertising and slogans that convince people to regularly buy new products. America’s economy has become based on planned obsolescence, which is when new products constantly become outdated and replaced by newer models. Commercials and advertisements promote this kind of economy and are subtly found almost everywhere from the highway to cellphones. For example, new cellphone models are released while old models wear out quickly and stop receiving support from the company. People have stopped becoming angry with this though and are happy to keep buying the newest versions. It causes people to buy new products they don’t for the sake of having something new. People even look down on others when they aren’t up to date, just like Lenina with her friend.
Thus, by using characters and catchy slogans, in his novel Brave New World, Huxley shows how influential advertising is in creating a uniform society with minimal creativity and an ingrained love of consumerism that is also seen in American society. Characters that are easily influenced by these catchy slogans and other advertising don’t have their own opinion. Their creativity is stifled and most decisions they make are unknowingly made by someone else.