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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

December 17, 1995|CHRIS GOODRICH

ADCULT USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture by James B. Twitchell (Columbia University Press: $24.95; 279 pp.). University of Florida professor James Twitchell believes that Madison Avenue has gotten a bad rap. Well, maybe--but at least somebody has come to advertising's defense, which is akin to standing shoulder to shoulder with Darth Vader. Twitchell, author of "Carnival Culture," believes advertising aims "not to force consumers to accept material against their better judgment but to get in the path of their judgment," and "ADCULT USA" allows him to revel--with scores of illustrations--in the inventiveness of its techniques. Borrowing high art value (Absolut vodka), entertaining with meta-advertising (Joe Isuzu), pushing the taste envelope (Calvin Klein and countless others): Yes, advertising does deserve serious consideration as a form of communication, but let's hope Twitchell is wrong to claim that advertising is "not just a central institution but the central institution" of U.S. culture.

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