Monday, November 30, 2009

Brad Pitt was Right

This isn’t a Jen v Angelina thing. Though I am firmly in the Angelina camp.

I’m not even sure these reflect Brad’s feelings in any way, or if he actually has feelings. He may be all washboard. But in any case, here are some quotes from 12 Monkeys and Fight Club:

There's the television. It's all right there - all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray. Commercials! We're not productive anymore. We don't make things anymore. It's all automated. What are we *for* then? We're consumers, Jim. Yeah. Okay, okay. Buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask you? What? Mentally *ill*.

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy expletive we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives.

Tyler Durden: Do you know what a duvet is?
Narrator: It's a comforter...
Tyler Durden: It's a blanket. Just a blanket. Now why do guys like you and me know what a duvet is? Is this essential to our survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word? No. What are we then?
Narrator: ...Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We're the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your expletive-ing khakis.

Earlier last week I was feeling very pro-consumer. I’d received a good price on a hot-ticket item due to my savvy (ie eavesdropping and mixing work and shopping) and snagged myself another limited time offer. I was thinking to myself, this is kind of fun. Being a consumer is kind of fun. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying shopping, whether it be bargain hunting or the occasional splurge. I was talking to a nurse at work, whose hobby every December is hunting down the toy-of-the-season. If she gets pleasure from collecting a dozen Tickle-Me-Elmos or Zhu Zhu Pets, kudos to her.

On Black Friday, my friends wanted to go all out. So Funshine and Husky dragged me from my bed at 3:45 in the morning and we went to worship at the shrine of Consumerism. The first temple on our trip, Kohls. We arrived at 4 AM, to find a parking lot entirely filled. Filled. At a store that I really hadn’t known existed until that moment.

As I wandered the aisles, following my gleeful companions, I was in awe. Again, it was 4 in the morning. People pushed their carts, filled to the brim with kitchenware and electronics. Businessmen, teenage girls, not-teenage girls wearing teenage girl sweatpants. It was surreal to me.

A large part of this being strange, is that they were so excited about things that I cannot become excited about. Funshine wanted a certain set of Pyrex, which was sold out at one location so we ended up hunting down another. Pyrex. I hope and pray that I’m never excited at Pyrex. Now I’ll get excited for movies and music and terabyte hard drives, which I realize are in many ways less practical. But the people around me were buying so many things, and in bulk, that I’d never consider buying. Yes, the price was good, but do they need the item?

And I’m being a hypocrite about the whole thing. Because to reward myself for leaving the house before 4 with nobody’s life on the line, I bought myself a PS3. And I tried to calculate why it was a good investment (my DVD player is broken, I’ve been meaning to buy a Blu-Ray player, I haven’t bought a system since 1999, I’m single so might as well stop delaying my gratification and have a modern game system etc etc) but it comes down to something I wanted was dangled in front of me for a relatively cheap price.

The Black Friday experience turned into a marathon. Eight hours later we were finished. We spent a full workday shopping. And what did I have? I was exhausted by noon, I have three hundred fewer dollars, and a new way to distract myself from studying. But feel free to buy me PS3 games or Blu-Rays, because I might as well have fun as I sell my soul to consumerism.


Kate said...

You loved every minute of it. Ok, that's a lie. You liked about 5% of it. It was an adventure.

Ranteumptom said...

The shopping was a worthwhile experience, for the experience, not for the shopping. Maybe I'd be more pro-consumer if I hadn't had a headache the whole time.