I have noticed a recent form of ideology rearing its head on commercials lately. This ideology is perfectly captured in the recent VISA television commercial about the speed skater Dan Jansen.
Just to be clear, I understand Ideology (which is too complex to fully define here) as a congealed collection of ideas that are presented to us on TV, the news media, in novels, newspapers, and so forth– in a manner that motivates us to perform certain actions and enact certain behaviors even to the point where these actions run contrary to our basic beliefs we hold about the world. So big actors in society (such as Banks, the Military, the Government, the Oil corps., the Media etc.) purposefully project a vision of the world (of existence etc.) that tries to convince you that this vision is one in which you “see yourself” fitting into.
Think of the Mac/PC commercials where the hip young man represents the Apple product and the overweight and out-of-date man stands in for the PC. Here of course Apple is projecting a vision of the world which you can literally buy yourself into (and that is precisely the point). Or you can think of the TV show, The Office in which one “entry-point” is that the common viewer associates themselves readily with the “normal” characters of the program, namely Pam and Jim.
In this way, we can see what Karl Marx understood as an “instrument of social reproduction” which is precisely the core meaning of the term ideology.
Of course ideology is much, much more interesting and “hidden” then this basic understanding—and has been developed by Slavoj Zizek (and others) in terms of its perverted meaning etc. But this is enough for us to see how ideology has recently been projected in terms of sentimentalism. That is, you are presented with a 30 second commercial in which there is a simple story designed to “pull on your heart strings” that will have you reaching for the tissues. In this way, one “feels” something and this “feeling” must be seen as another “instrument of social reproduction.”