Thursday, November 25, 2010

Consumerism: A World of Entitlement and Instant Gratification

With Black Friday on the way, I thought I'd take the time to talk about the more underhanded dynamics of consumerism, that most Americans are unaware of. Hopefully, this will cause the snarling masses to pause before they lunge at a Wii in a department store near you this Friday. For those who are not aware, “Consumerism is a social and economic construct, perpetuated by advertising and marketing, in order to to create and encourage the desire to purchase goods or services in large quantities.” A formula for consumption as a “way of life” was purposed by Victor Lebow, (god I hate that guy), in his paper Price Competition in 1955, where he states, "Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption a way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions in consumption....We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever growing rate." This idea permeates our culture, and manufactures false ideals that create a sort of “consensus reality”, which perpetuates the idea of shopping as a “spiritual practice” and encourages entitlement and satisfies the desire for instant gratification.

While the conservatives and liberals argue about what is destroying American ideals, the philosophy of consumerism quietly establishes itself as the predominant “religion” of the west world, which is more likely the culprit responsible for this cultural degradation. Conservatives blame liberals because of their tolerating homosexuality, protecting abortion rights, providing welfare and socialized medicine. Liberals blame conservatives for giving the wealthy larger tax breaks, trying to abolish the separation of church and state and encroaching on our civil liberties. Most of this is social posturing, utilized to divide and conquer American citizens. They mindlessly distracting us with either the hot social issue of the day, or they spend the rest of their time pointing out what makes us socially different (ie. race, religion, ethnic and national background, jobs, income, education, social status, sexuality). All of this seems like nothing more than a ploy to keep us uniformed and uneducated about real issue that are seemingly never covered by the media.

The reason for this is quite simple; it all boils down to advertising. The best example that comes to mind was the Fox syndicated WTVT “Cancer Milk” exposé about the artificial bovine growth hormone (BGH), a recombinant bovine growth hormone, or rBGH, known better as Posilac. Posilac is a synthetic hormone developed by Monsanto that is injected into cows to increase milk production. Many people are unaware that Posilac was banned from use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and most of Europe, by 2000 or earlier. In 1997 Steve Wilson and Jane Akre worked together on a story about rBGH for Fox's WTVT in Florida. As a result of their investigation they discovered that BGH had been approved by the FDA after only one human study on 30 medical rats for 90 days.

It has also been recently discovered that rBGH may increase the risk of mastitis, an infection of the udders from over production of milk, by 25%. In addition to mastitis, rBGH has been demonstrated to increase the incidence of 15 different harmful effects to cows' health, including birth disorders, increased pus in milk, hoof problems, heat stress, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal disturbances. It is interesting to note that The Humane Society of the U.S., Humane Farming Association, Farm Sanctuary and Animal Protection Institute all oppose the use of rBGH. It is because of this that shortly before the story was aired, Fox News received two faxes from Monsanto's lawyers. One of which stated that the story was, “a great concern to Monsanto”, and that there would be, “dire consequences for Fox News. ” if the story aired in Florida. Fox News subsequently pulled piece for deliberation on the story, for fear of losing advertisement money for products like Round-up, which is produced by Monsanto.

Shortly after, the General Manager of WTVT Fox asked the journalist how they would feel if the story was “killed” and if they would tell anyone. In an attempt to bribe the journalists a lawyer of WTVT sent the journalists such a bribe in the form of a confidentiality agreement, which guaranteed both journalists a full year’s salary as long as they never talked about Monsanto, the legal process taken up by Fox and also that they could not take it to another news station. The journalist refused to sign such a waiver and keep it as evidence that fox was trying to bribe them. WTVT aware that they could not fire or bribe the journalists decided to edit the expose with the journalist 83 times! Most of the editing decisions were made in order to reduce or remove any criticism of Monsanto. For instance words like “cancer” were substituted by more docile euphemisms like, “human health implication”. Inevitably, the two journalists took legal action against Fox under whistle blower status. The sad thing is that Fox won the appeal, since the judges claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy."

Consequently, this means that the FCC, a government body established to protect American citizens, is good for nothing, except when it comes to crucifying people like George Carlin and Howard Stern for “obscene” language. The advertisers and marketing executives get paid the big bucks, because they are so good at what they do, which is nothing short of propaganda. They can be misleading or even falsify information to their consumers, just as long as their products don't violate any laws established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Federal Trade Commision (FTC). That is why, as George Carlin put it, “America's leading industry, America's most profitable business, is still, the manufacture, packaging, distribution, and marketing of Bullshit. High quality, grade A, prime cut, pure American Bullshit.” This is the same reason that during every election cycle we see smear ads plastered across our television screens, and wonder why nobody does anything about it. It is because any legal action must be pursued by the candidate, in the case of libel or defamation, which would inevitably take up more of a candidate’s time and money, then creating a counter attack campaign ad would.

This is no big surprise, since by now if you haven't heard it is the corporation that owns and runs this country, not the lowly citizens. We've granted the corporations and conglomerates of this country, with the power to replace the meaningful rituals of certain holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day with banal ritual of shopping and consumerism. Even “patriotic” holidays, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day, have been replaced with sales that to the general public are infinitely more important than the dead men and woman that have served this county. Since the 80's this country has become nothing more than a “coast-to-coast shopping mall”. The remnants of which have been raped by what I like the call the United Sodomizers of America; A group of elite corporations that tempt consumers with over priced goods, built upon the blood, sweat and tears of slave laborers of third world countries. It disturbs me that Americans don't mind being referred to as “consumers”, a poorly constructed euphemism that describes those of us who...CONSUME! But the longer you live in this country and the more you look around the more you realize that is exactly our motive of operation. The word consume means to “destroy or expend by use”, it can also refers to the “spending of money or time wastefully”. And when it comes to wasting money and time America is #1! I really think it is pathetic if that is the only thing we excel at anymore as a nation. Once this country becomes nothing more than a Third world consumer plantation, more developed countries like India and China may start creating better jobs. And with developing countries like India and China hot on our tails, who knows maybe America will be unseated as the Heavy Weight champion of consumption, and forced to excel at something sweat shops!

America constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, but consume more than a 25% of the worlds resources on a daily basis. It is also interesting to note that a majority of products that American's consume are poor made electronics that become obsolete within 6 months. This helps to perpetuate Victor Lebow's vision of creating products that can be, “consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever growing rate.” Little do people know that the products that become obsolete are shipped to landfills in India where desperately poor children pull apart the devices to salvage lucrative metals like copper. Also, as a result, the salvaging releases harmful chemicals and nurotoxins, which will either be inhaled by the children, or leach into the ground to affect countless numbers of innocent lives. None of this is presented to the American public while they watch commercials celebrating the new iPhone or any other host of soon to be obsolete gadgets and gizmos.

You could call Americans ignorant, but that is an understatement. The truth if the matter is that American's simply don't care. Most Americans don't want to know that a overwhelming majority of the cleaning products they purchase contain chemicals that are carcinogenic. They don't care that the production of plastic, which can only be down-cycled, not recycled, is polluting their water and soil from leching. When it comes to consumer products, Americans only care about themselves and how other with view them. They allow their consumer goods to define who they are, by buying the latest cars, gizmos and video games. Instead of purchasing things like books or art, which demonstrates to others that they acquire possessions with intrinsic value, that are an extension of who they are, not what they are.

-The Dead Guy (Who Won't be Caught Dead Near A Big Box Store This X-mas)


  1. Another great article. Keep 'em coming!

  2. Must buy to feel I exist. Must be other ways to feel more alive and validated then to purchase something.

  3. I agree with spending money on art orinstruments. I am a musican and find it hard to spend a lot of cash at a big box store cause there ain't no funky basses!!!

  4. Chet: Thank you so much for your interest and support. It means a lot to us.

    Anonymous: There is a way to feel more alive and validated: create something. It can be anything at all.


  5. Its wonderful Blog.The best way to create ethnic efforts online is to develop an Ethnic Marketing program utilizing your existing company website combined with creative search engine marketing.

  6. Good blog. Rabid consumerism seems to have grown in inverse proportion to the decline in quality of the products we now buy in large quantities. Isn't it strange how people always seem to be shopping? For some people it has become a hobby, or, even more horrible still, an instinctive reflex. How much stuff does one really need anyway? And it's fascinating to see how consumption has not slowed all that much even in the depths of the supposed recession. Products are made and sold so cheaply now that our need and ability to buy them has seemingly been made recession-proof. And because things are made so cheaply they can't be expected to function or last for any reasonable amount of time. So basically we're forced to buy the same things over and over again. Weekly trips to the Wal-Mart, which has now also become the local grocery store, check! One can buy milk, a plunger, a DVD player and lingerie for the wife all in one trek, and grab a $5 foot-long on the way out the door; really, who can resist the smell of "freshly-baked" bread while they're pushing a heavy cart through the aisles? You're right Dead Guy, marketers get paid a lot of money to think up this shit. I also avoided black friday like the plague (I think there's a good reason why it has been given such an ominous name). Bargain shopping unleashes the feral dog in people.

  7. If you play that John Lennon song backwards, it says, "Imagine all the people, browsing in a mall." Isn't that weird?