To celebrate the launch of the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, we’ll be giving you a taster of some of the articles all this week. Below you’ll find a short excerpt from our look at the enduring cultural appeal of Americana as well as a couple of images; for the full piece you can buy the latest Printed Pages here.
It’s difficult to overestimate the power of the movie industry as hawkers of Americana. Growing up in north Wales, the photographer Matt Henry spent every penny of his pocket money renting VHS films from the Post Office, and he was entranced by TV shows like The A-Team and Dukes of Hazzard.
“Edward Bernays comes to mind here; the American nephew of Freud and the godfather of public relations and propaganda. He used Freud’s ideas to establish a theory that the best way to sell products wasn’t actually to sell their virtues, but instead to link goods to people’s unconscious desires. The idea is that rationality isn’t the greatest motivating force, and there’s something about American film and television that exploits this. It expertly keys into our sexual, aggressive, irrational urges. It gets you rooting for the bad guy, the anti-hero, and draws you into receiving real pleasure from outcomes you wouldn’t generally consider moral.
“It’s at the heart of many a storyline of the rebel, the outsider, the lone man and his gun refusing to compromise with the world. Fierce individualism and power; it’s not moral but it’s overtly sexual and ally sex to the Ford Mustang, or the baseball hat, or the American diner, and you begin to see behind this iconography.”