This week I received my copy of The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures by Jean Baudrillard via Amazon. It’s one of the firebrand postmodern cultural critic’s most important books, originally published in 1970. It comes from Baudrillard’s early period, before he abandoned his Marxist techniques.
I enjoy a good old-fashioned critique of materialism; it makes me feel superior to the herd, if only for a moment. But I like to accumulate STUFF too. If there’s a hole in my heart, why not fill it with STUFF?
Way back in my small-liberal-arts-college days, a history instructor asked us to describe American culture in one word. “Freedom,” many said. “Justice.” “Democracy.” “Equality,” someone whispered. I had to mix things up. Be a little less idealistic. “Consumerism,” I said with a smile.
It’s no secret that corporations entice us with STUFF to take our minds off of jobs that allow us to buy STUFF but make us miserable in the process. We’re kept endlessly entertained—distracted, really—so the system can chug along, chewing up our souls for fuel.
But I’m being too serious. I mean, who wouldn’t want an iPad Air for Christmas?
Baudrillard wrote somewhere that TV shows exist to enhance the commercials. I laugh and cry at such observations. I’m so frightened and amazed by consumerism that I bought a book about the dangers of buying STUFF on a site where people can’t stop buying STUFF.
There’s no escaping the almighty dollar. Besides, revolutions cost a fortune. And I’ve used up all my personal days.