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Media Sexploitation
"Media Sexploitation"
by Wilson Bryan Key
Signet, 1976

     To get you in the right mood for this book, let's quote the text on the cover: "Media Sexploitation. You are being sexually manipulated at this very moment. Do you know how?...The hidden implants in America's mass media--and how they program and condition your subconscious mind. The shock-exposure sequel to Subliminal Seduction." The back cover is just as amazing:

Because the media knows
Everything about your fantasies, fears,
and intimate habits--it knows how to
manipulate your buying behavior

How strategically placed candy ads remove
worries about overweight.

How magazines like Playgirl and Viva,
"intended" for women, are really
appealing to men.

How cigarette ads make you stop
fearing cancer.

How movies have devised new methods of
torture for your pain and their profit.

How fashion ads lean toward latent

How popular rock music has succeeded in
pushing drugs.

How news photos are doctored to mold your

How four-letter words are embedded into
pictures of food and clothing to stir up
sexual desire.

How all this and much
more is done to arouse and enslave you
without your even suspecting it!

     This book covers everything from the subliminal messages in magazine ads to backwards masking on those rock and roll albums you own. Wilson Bryan Key gets to the bottom of how marketers use sex, the image of and the actual word, to make you want to by more. Take for example this picture of a Ritz cracker:

The casual observer notices nothing, but take a closer look, as the author has done, and the word "sex" is found imbedded all over it.  Or how about this ad for Benson & Hedges cigarettes, where the hockey player's glove just happens to read "cancer." 

And we mustn't forget about those hidden messages in rock and roll songs and album covers. Key talks about the "Paul Is Dead" Beatles rumor and how "Hey Jude" and  Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are both songs that praise heroin addiction. Then there is the write up about the oldies song "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Suede and what sexual message is embedded within:

     Buried within the April 1974 list of top-thirty record sellers was a song called "Hooked on a Feeling" recorded by a rock group billed as Blue Swede. Like so many hundreds of other such rock ballads, relentlessly merchandised each year across North America, "Hooked" was a passed-over item a few months later. But during its brief glory peak, the record sold several million copies, producing a small fortune for its promoters. Most of the singles were purchased by gum-chewing, long-haired teen-age girls who first heard it being plugged by disc jockeys on the AM band wasteland.
     Not one of the rock biggies, "Hooked" did well. Though few fans could consciously decipher the banality in the song's lyrics, the melody was whistled and hummed by both teen-agers and even by some of their parents who picked it up unconsciously.
     "Hooked on a Feeling" has a curious chant, sung by the chorus, which is sustained behind the lyric. The repetitious background phrase sounds like "ooh-ga-shook-ah." Considering the lyric and chant in a figure-ground relationship, the audience consciously listened to the lyric's meaningless banality, not the background chant. Roughly a hundred teen-agers who owned the record, both male and female, were asked what the background phrase "ooh-ga-shook-ah" meant. No one had any idea. They also had no conscious idea what the lyric was about, even though all had heard the song dozens--if not many, many dozens--of times.
     At several points in the continuity of the background chant--consciously ignored because attention was focused upon the foreground lyric--the chanted phrase "Ooh-ga-shook-ah" smoothly and very distinctly converted into "Who got sucked off?" The technique has been called metacontrast or backwards masking, much like the magician who tricks you into watching his right hand while he picks your pocket with his left.
     After reading this book, you may want to hide all you records and keep your eyes adverted from every billboard you see, unless you don't mind letting sexual innuendo run rampant through your subconscious.

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