In my house there has been a constant argument for many years. When my brother would prepare himself for school and work in the morning, he would never turn the taps all the way back. The taps would drip water until it was my turn to brush my teeth.
As a mild, but definite tree hugger, this habit of my brother’s became a major pet peeve. Why? Because one, I believe he started doing it by accident but continued to not turn the taps all the way off because he knew it annoyed me. And two, the dreaded thought of needless consumption.
In module one, my favorite and most passionate reading came from chapter 4, consumption and advertising. Breaking down the barriers that I had in my head about what media truly was, the power of culture and how societies were created and interpreted was a learning experience for me in this module. Looking from a new viewpoint I realized that as real and substantial as these terms were to me, they are all created by us.
When turning my focus to chapter 4, I could feel my face becoming hot. Consumption is present in various and all aspects of North American lives. Simple daily chores like eating and grocery shopping have become polluted by consumerism. Governments are guilty too. Policy making, taxing, and elections are all rooted in consumption.
George W. Bush encouraging the American people to continue to shop, visit Disney World with their families and buy things just a short time after 9/11 will be forever in my mind. As a 12 year old girl I can vividly remember the speech he had given. At the time I couldn’t be sure what he meant. But all I knew is that I really wanted a Minnie Mouse sweater.
The leader of the free world was promoting conspicuous consumption. The mediated society that we live in did just what he had asked them to do.
Marx’s views on consumption are piercing. Production and consumption go hand in hand. It’s a vicious cycle really… production creates consumption and vice versa. As a society, how can we be expected to get out alive? …Or at least without a new pair of Prada shoes?
Consumption is rooted in social class, hierarchies, politics and day to day life. Module one, for me gave me the opportunity to see past the ideas and assumptions that I had about media, culture and society. I truly realized how these three things are present in all aspects of my life and even in passions that I have.
I may not be David Suzuki, but I do feel strongly about the effects that consumption has on our world. Through reading the course material I understand the role that media plays in having our world be so consumption obsessed – and why the major role players in media want to keep it that way… because everything is connected.
Looking forward to Module 2 and what knowledge it has to offer about our views on media, culture and society.
*Fun tree hugger tip: Legend has it, if you take longer than an 8 minute shower, you’re better off taking a bath to save on water consumption! *
Jackson, J. D., Nielsen, G., & Hsu, Y. (2011). Chapters 3 & 4. Mediated Society: a Critical Sociology of Media. (pp. 55-99). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Williams, R. (1977). Culture. In Marxism and Literature. (pp.11-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press.