consumerism and freedom, again. -Reply

Nicholas Mamatas 192106 at
Sun Feb 26 12:53:36 MST 1995


First, Nick Mamatas,
I appreciate your response to my concerns over media imagery that
works  against the goals that establish as an activist--fair access to
resources, economic justice, and the media appropriation of those
causes.  I agree, this is no new phenomenon.  Post-modernism reminds
us  that the viewers of television are subjects, not passively receiving
these  particular manipulative images.  Unfortunately, I believe that
corporate  commercial imagery has reached a new level with claims like,
"even in an  oppressed society, you can still have fun [the driver drives a
 hyundhai.], or "freedom to choose [with two blimpie's subs on sale].

The rate and quality of images of liberational consumption have definetly
changed. A short film about advertising in Canada from the early 1970s,
"Mirror, Mirror" really points this up.  For example during th long postwar
boom, images of the disposable society were predominant, there is
enough for everyone an don't wory about saving.  With the crisis of the
early 1970s, durability, reliability and strength were images associated
wih the products and with the aspirational lifestyles.  Today my fave
commercial is one for Chips Ahoy cookies...the ad consists of animated
cookies and blue exclamation points hopping around the screen, jumping
into bags of Chips Ahoy while the voice over exclaims "there's
something new, something special, something great in every bag! And
that something is...."  at he end of the commercial we learn that there is
not more chocolate or a new recipie but that the bags are now "Chock
full of...WOW!"  I actually wrote Nabisco and mentioned that my bag didn't
seem to have that much wow, so could they please send me some more
to fortify my cookies with.  Never got any wow, but they didn't send me
a coupon for a free bag.  In addition to the concrete, capital wants to sell
us that certain unidentifiable something, the cure for alienation that used
to be taken care of by other concepts such as an afterlife, love, loyalty
to the nation-state etc.. (of course, they still use these things to keep us
in line as well.)

  I  am hesitant to allow the corporate world to appropriate the real work
of  CITIZENS for these ends.  Just keep your eyes open, as a media
scholar,  I'm sure they already are.   As you maintain, the locus of
"blame" remains focused on the  recipient of the images rather than the
producers.  How different is this  from the use of the "work ethic" to bind
wage-slave-laborers to their  job, rather than a popular assessment of
the more severe injustices  associated with corporate ownership.

No difference really, but even concepts like the work ethic are injected
into popular conscience through mediated images.  It may be as blatant
as George Will belching some nonsense about personal responsibility in
the face of economic collapse or the scary hegemony of sitcoms that
consist of heterosexual mating couples having bad days at work, yelling
at each other in a living room than solving everything in time to snuggle in
bed and watch old movies on tv (which also consist of that scenario.)
Even religion an art are largely  transmitted through media, more people
know of the religious right through mediated imagery than through
worship in their churches.  Cable companies tht want to defeat local
monopolies call themselves "Liberty Cable", a travel agency near my
house shares that name and has a papier-machie Statue Of Liberty
in the window.  In order for generalized wage-labor and commodity
production and consumption to work, the ruling class must give at least
lip service to the ideals of human rights and freedom of choice and
consent.   Or course he choice is vacuous and consent is rigged through
ideological card stacking, but everydy experience of exploitation and
oppression teach different lessons.  In the end, there will always be
people who will demand that claims for equality and freedom be met at
face value, and the activity stemming from those demands may be the
thing that kicks the system over.

One more thing, a large demo against the Medicaid cuts in NYC will
happen on March 1st at the Empire State Building at 3:30.  Its being called
by 1199, a health care workers union an many oher trade union groups
and other activists will be there.  Early projections of up to 30,000 people
ar being tossed around.  This demo is oubly important because its the
organized working class fighting back and looks to be huge.  I encourage
all local listers to attend!

Jules David Tuyes                     | "You're walking, and you don't
                                      |  always realize it but you're
                                      |  always falling. With each step, you
                                      |  fall forward slightly, and then
                                      |  catch yourself from falling.
                                      |  Over and over."     antjdtx at
                                      |                     --Laurie Anderson

Nick Mamatas
New School For Social Research

     --- from list marxism at ---


     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list