I found the “Society of the Spectacle” by Guy Debord very interesting. Although it was written around 50 years ago, it is still highly relevant in our society today. Commodities are things (goods) we consume in society daily. Debord explains a spectacle as, “where the tangible world is replaced by a selection of images which exist above it” (36). This idea can be seen all around us, especially in mass media and consumerism. We are constantly being sold something, whether it be an item or and idea. We can relate this idea what we were discussing in class regarding toilet paper. We pay three dollars for a set of toilet paper when the toilet rolls probably only cost 25 cents. We are buying the toilet paper for the brand name, without even realizing it. Additionally, we are constantly trying to buy new gadgets. People camp out for hours in order to receive the new iPhone. In the video linked below, a woman explains that she has been waiting two days to purchase the iPhone 5. When asked about which new features she is excited to have, she was unsure because she had not even seen what the new iPhone yet. Also lets not forget about the insane crowds on Black Friday! Consumerism has been highly integrated into our culture to the point where we almost don’t realize it.

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6 responses »

  1. zainjazara says:

    I wonder if countries and cultures around the world embrace consumerism as deeply as America. When I studied abroad in China, my economics professor constantly referred back to America as the example for consumerism. In Chinese culture, saving is far more important than spending. To emphasize how much Chinese people save, the professor would compare their shopping habits to Americans (implying Americans come from a wasteful culture spinning on the cycle of buying and disposing constantly). He also pointed out America’s use of advertisement to incentivise and create a culture of consumerism. The differences in American consumerism versus Chinese consumerism can easily be seen in food portion sizes or while walking through an American mall versus a Chinese mall: in American malls, huge signs indicating sales and offers are plastered to the windows and walls, whereas that is rarely seen in the shops of China. Although these cultural differences are clear, I definitely think most of the world (including China) is following America’s footsteps very closely and consumerism is spreading rapidly (if it hasn’t already been entirely embraced by a country).

  2. hannahginsberg says:

    I completely agree with all your points on consumption. I especially find the point about the woman standing inline for the iPhone that she had never seen before interesting. Apple seems to have completely taken over the way some people live. Regardless of the object they are selling people will stand in line or preorder it whether or not they actually need it. When a iPhone S comes out people want it just because it is newer rather than because it actually does anything different. Do we really need an iPhone, iPad and laptop? Probably not but Apple makes the consumer believe that they do.

  3. cassidy says:

    Gosh these videos are horrifying

  4. lagray700 says:

    “We are constantly being sold something, whether it be an item or and idea.”- I totally agree with this (I mean how could you really argue against it in this society?) and I think it’s interesting that often when we are watching something or someone approaches us and we expect to be sold something and we aren’t we get confused and don’t see the point.

  5. Yes and we don’t even understand how our daily actions like like sending emails, searching for videos for youtube, online shopping, etc are really contributing to consumerism with big data and personalized advertising from cookies on your computer. Everything is connected nowadays

  6. alexanderlandau says:

    It fascinates me how powerful media campaigns are. Companies cause consumers to idealize and idolize their products. They do this to such a degree that people see these products as the be-all and end-all of their lives. Consumers will not feel complete until they buy and absorb their attention in the products they desire. In this way consumers put their self fulfillment and value into products. In the Black Friday video, shoppers await pressed against the metal security doors not only because their is a huge sale, but also so that they can fully embody the Urban Outfitters look—in other words “live” the Urban brand. In the iPhone 5 video, a woman believes that an Apple product is a magical device that will fix her life. My favorite part of the video is when the interviewer asks her what she’ll do if the phone is more expensive than she expected. She says, “That’s right because I have my credit card!” The interviewer enthusiastically replies “Perfect! Pay later!” and then she says “Why not?!” This interaction reveals just how attached consumers become with products and that they’ll almost do anything to obtain them.

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