by Wilson Bryan Key
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
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
How news photos are doctored to mold your
How four-letter words are embedded into
pictures of food and clothing to stir up
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:
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.
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.
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