The Pathos of the Smile

“The loss of (spontaneous, reciprocal, symbolic) human relations is the fundamental fact of our societies. It is on this basis that we are seeing the systematic reinjection of human relations – in the form of signs – into the social circuit, and are seeing the consumption of those relations and of that human warmth in signified form. The receptionist, the social worker, the public relations consultant, the advertising pin-up girl, all these apostles of the social machine have as their secular mission the gratification, the lubrication of social relations with the institutional smile. Everywhere we see advertising aping intimate, intimist, personal styles of communication. It attempts to speak to the housewife in the language of the housewife next door, to speak to the executive or the secretary as a boss or a colleague, to speak to each of us as our friend or our superego or as an inner voice in the confessional mode. It thus produces intimacy where there is none – either among people or between people and products – by a veritable process of simulation. And it is this, among other things (though perhaps this above all), which is consumed in advertising.” The Consumer Society by Jean Baudrillard. p161

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