duvall writes that “jack’s failure to recognize proto-fascist urges in an aestheticized american consumer culture is all the more striking since he emphasizes in his course hitler’s manipulation of mass cultural aesthetics” and in fact, this is one of the only things jack discusses involving hilter–the only other topic being his mother. he argues the irony is in the fact that jack doesn’t recognize the fascism of his own culture. in jack’s world, there is no mass control or ideology, and people are presented with what seems like a freedom of choice. in order to understand what he means, we must first look at a definition of fascism and since this is the internet, wikipedia is probably the easiest though not best place to check saying: “a totalitarian nationalist political ideology and mass movement that is concerned with notions of cultural decline or decadence, and which seeks to achieve a millenarian national rebirth by exalting the nation or race, as well as promoting cults of unity, strength and purity.”
the supermarket is a place of rebirth throughout the book–after the airborne toxic event, after jack has nearly killed someone. it is rebirth under the ideologies of capitalism, collectivism, consumerism, and materialism. purchasing name brands help people like the gladney’s feel “fullness of being” (p.20) while people like murray offer resistance to this “proto-fascism” by attributing to the “spiritual consensus” (p.18) of the generic.
the television is there to tell them what to buy and as a result it tells them what to think. this can be seen by the intrusion of brand names into the narrative or jack’s daughter mouthing car names in her sleep. this fascism isn’t achieved by violence or thought-control but with the illusion of choice and comfort given to them from the only source of information they have: television.