Quotation by Gregor T. Goethals

The most condensed format of the conversionist motif is the TV commercial, which has become essential to both network and religious broadcasting. Embedded in its structure are sentiments from our religious and political heritage: salvation and choice. Newness of life can now be associated with a change of heart about politics, the purchase of a new car, or the selection of a beverage. A Pepsi commercial, for example, designed to fit the charismatic personality and gifts of singer Michael Jackson, became an invitation to make a decision and join in. Images and sounds of the soft-drink ad drew viewers into a growing throng of happy, dancing people following the steps of a dynamic cultural hero. Even couch potatoes might have been roused, vicariously at least, to skip lightly behind the agile Jackson as he led his ecstatic followers to the right choice. The conversionist call in this instance is to come on up to the good life through Pepsi. Nonetheless it plays upon the persuasive motifs of turning around and becoming a part of something larger.
Gregor T. Goethals (b. 1926), U.S. art historian. "Persuasive Imaging," The Electronic Golden Calf: Images, Religion, and the Making of Meaning, Cowley (1990).
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