Here’s a page from the history books of consumerism history: Back in the early 90’s, Prego gave out 12,000 free posters to classrooms across America containing a “lesson plan” for a “scientific” experiment in which they would test whether Prego or Ragu Old World Style was thicker. The poster came with a free slotted spoon and a coupon for a 30 oz jar of Prego. In the September 95 issue of Harper’s Magazine, David Shenk lampooned this blatant insertion of commercial messages into the classroom under the guise of learning about the scientific method:
Frugal matrimony? Shelf-stocker falls for assistant manager? They met as their hands simultaneously clasped over the last of the same everyday-low-priced item? Possibilities, endless. I wonder if their marriage license got checked at the door.
Let’s expand our foreign language vocabulary! Can you say, “guolaosi”? It’s a Mandarin word meaning “death from overwork!” The word describes the phenomenon of Chinese workers falling dead on the spot as they toil in sub-Dickensian conditions so you can save a dollar on your next laptop!
Guy Ben-Ner shot a short sitcom in which a family drama is played out while the characters are depicted as living inside an IKEA. They shot it in within three different IKEAs, one in Berlin, one in Israel and one in New Jersey, and its edited so the action flows seamlessly between the scenarios. Real customers walk by and at one point almost steal the camera. Amusing commentary on consumer culture and geopolitics and damned clever idea.
Listen hun, your Gucci bag and Burbury scarf aren’t fooling anyone. Sophisticated shoppers, the ones you’re pretending to be, they know better. According to a recent study, the elite among us skip past the logos and instead focus on subtle cues like distinctive designs and details to figure out who’s truly high brow.
Alicia Guastaferro, 18 year-old teen beauty queen, is pretty much crass consumerism made flesh, and the figurative lovechild of Disney and Forever 21. To support her beauty pageant lifestyle, her parents lavish her with $100,000 in clothes every year, do her homework for her, and keep up a Christmas tree year-round and give her a new present every day. But what happens when she goes on Wife Swap, and her new mom is a feminist Quaker preacher? Whoa! Explosions! Tears! Now Alicia is suing ABC for $100 million, contending they framed scenes to “maximize her public embarrassment.” Um, duh, that’s what reality TV is. Or did your parents also watch your television for you as well?
The NYT has a 6-page story about the self-storage phenomenon, the effect of which was to make us grateful for the internet because were we to have to physically store these NYT Magazine features we’d be destitute. In any case, its an interesting article. If you’ve ever wondered what people were doing with all the crap they were buying in the last decade — well, a lot of it ended up in storage.
The New Scientist has an editorial this week arguing that consumerism is “eating the future.” Author Andy Coghlan sees the modern environmental crisis as the result of a Darwinian struggle: “Not only are [humans] simply doing what all creatures do: we’re doing it better.”
A Chinese bride recently walked down the aisle wearing a 7,083-foot-long wedding dress that took 200 guests over three hours to unfurl. The $5,800 dress could be a sign of China’s potential to threaten America’s reigning status as the capital of gross consumerism, if only the bridegroom hadn’t personally designed the dress with his family’s help. Explaining the lavish garment, he said: “I do not want a cliche wedding parade or banquet.”
Chain restaurants are trying to lure in recession-weary diners with deep discounts, but franchisers worry that if you suddenly start paying half-price for sandwiches, you won’t be willing to pay full price when the economy recovers. We’re all accustomed to chain restaurant sandwiches costing $8 and up, but how much do those sandwiches really cost restaurants to make?
Is the recession making you sad? Then go hug a friend because your money doesn’t care and can’t make you happy, the Dalai Lama reminded us yesterday. The exiled Tibetan leader said that if nothing else, the economic crisis is doing an excellent job showing people the limit of money.
Sometimes we buy things and days later, or even minutes, we totally hate ourselves for buying it. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
The global economy is crashing, credit markets are playing ice age, and you consumers have a simple choice: buy things now or prepare to be stabbed next year.
Have you seen them? The Europeans? They’re everywhere! In our fancy bistros, on line at the Apple store, spending their fancy-pantzy valuable Euros while we suffer through this intolerable non-recession. The patriots at the New York Times finally sounded the warning call over this European “invasion” that’s transforming New York into the “Walmart of hip.”
Over at MSN Money there’s an interesting article about the tyranny of cheap crap that we, as a people, are accustomed to living under. Why do we buy a coat every year instead of one high quality coat that will last many years? Why do we buy crappy kitchen knives that go dull and become dangerous? Do we enjoy shopping so much that we’re content to keep rebuying the same stuff?
The First Batch Of One-Year iPhone Warranties Are About To Expire, Or Why You Shouldn't Be An Early Adopter
Hey, Apple fanboys! Yeah, you, the ones who stood on line foaming at the mouth so you could be the first to buy those precious little pocket diamonds that didn’t sell out. Your limited one-year warranty expires tomorrow, so break your phone while you can. As for the rest of us, let’s look back at a year of the iPhone and remember the perils of being an early adopter…