Saturday, August 8, 2015

Is Pop Culture Consumerism at the highest degree?

I am not a communist, nor socialist, at least in the direct political terms that are used to describe them.  I am a realist and don't believe most political and economic systems work fairly, and to whatever extent it matters, I find myself aloof from them all.  I live in the US, but I've never made enough money to enter any sort of real or consistent consumerist behavior.  That said, I have a degree in History and I have studied how America moved from various freedoms and outlooks towards capitalism towards a plutocracy, or oligarchy with the markets controlled by the wealthy for the sake of the wealthy. As to my opinion upon this, as a Christian I can only say that we are called upon to care for the poor.  It is a direct response to our being healed, saved, and blessed.  Anything less is to be selfish, when our savior was not selfish with us.  I realize many reading this are not Christian, so I am speaking for myself, and how I understand this.  As an American I see many people consuming products, and doing so like lambs to the slaughter.  (Wir sind aber Lämmer zur Schlachtbank führen).

Sacrificial Lamb

The poor try to enter the consumerist world, but it is the middle class and working class who are the people who make it run.  This isn't an accusation, it is just that the wealthy don't really have to bother with scarcity or abundance, they just buy what they like.  For example: a person I know who is very wealthy, who will remain unnamed here, was ill with a deadly disease, and they came from a country with socialized medicine.  The country they were from had a system that said she could be seen for her disease in two months and the treatments could begin in 4 months.  Knowing that would likely mean giving her horrible form of cancer a head start, she came to the US and received treatment immediately, for a great deal of money.  She survived, and is in complete remission.  The people she knew in the other country who were in the group she was in, didn't do very well in comparison.  Money changes everything.  Or I should say, HAVING money or not changes everything.  EBAY which I do like helped crank up the volume on consumerism. It did so by making many buyers of products believe that they actually won an item, when what they did was buy it, simply buy it. Buying things and the ability to buy them are not in themselves evil. The wealthy shouldn't apologize.  If we are all striving to achieve, and to find more money, it would seem we are all trying to become ... wealthy.  The dichotomy of hating the wealthy while wanting to be comes from jealousy and greed.  Consumerism is something we see as happening at the top of the food chain, and it feels good.  Whether it is good or not, I am referring to a functional truth, not an objective one.

Carla LeBec: "Yo, Becs. What's this thing you have against rich people? I mean, you're dating a rich guy. You want to be rich yourself, right?"

Rebecca Howe: "Yes. And when I am rich, I will stop hating rich people, and start hating poor people. It's the American way."

Popculture as we see it seems to come with a price tag.  This CD is this much, this collectible is this much, this DVD is this much, this Download is this much... and it has always been that way, but, when they announce a new version of the iPhone or some damn thing, people wait for hours and days to get the first shot at owning one.  Like lambs to the slaughter we are led.

Does it rule our lives?  Not mine, but I do wish I had money that I could spend.
Does it tempt us?  Yes, I am tempted.

So yes, I do believe Popular Culture assumes Capitalism, and I do believe materialism and consumerism.  It needn't be bad, but it probably is.  Wie Schafe zur Schlachtbank geführt.

The God Mammon

1 comment:

Kurt Wilcken said...

I think I would look at it a bit differently. As I see it, consumerism is the means by which culture is disseminated to the masses. If I spelled that correctly. Would Pop Culture exist without television or movies or comic books? Culture of a sort would, but it would just be limited in it's transmission.