The consumer based society in the US was technically “created” after World War Two (the “materials economy”. Consumerism is continually changing within our society. Each generation is becoming more and dependent on consumed goods and without even realizing, it is overwhelming us along the way. The eye capturing brand names and the constantly advertised retailed goods being globally marketed are what keep us wanting more. Bruce Dawe displays this through his poems “Televistas”, “Breakthrough” and “Abandonment of Autos”. Such related texts demonstrated on a global scale such as “WING$ by Macklemore” and a scene from the movie “Confessions of a shopaholic. These texts all display the way in which today’s society is greatly influenced and defined by the pressure to fulfill their social statuses through consumed goods.
The over powering demand of purchased goods in society is defined in how consumerism dominates the way we live our lives. The poem “Televistas” by Bruce Dawe expresses that the consumption of desired goods dominated people’s lives, including their love life. The man and the women from Dawes poem meet purely through inconvenience. The quote “a faulty tube led to their meeting” explains that if the television hadn’t broken they would never have even met in the first place and that the couples’ vision of life is defined and confirmed by the values of television. The scene in “Confessions of a shopaholic also shows a man and women meeting yet again over inconvenience as she hadn’t the right amount of money for the scarf she “desperately” needed. That in which she approached the man and said “EXCUSE ME ITS AN EMERGENCY! It’s a desperately important scarf, it’s for my great aunt, she’s very sick!” This is shown by a close up shot, showing the emotion on both the man and woman’s face. This scene is also displayed through a low angle shot, showing the guy she’s asking for money has the power and authority over her. As the women stated it was for her sick aunt the guy willingly handed over the cash, she then went and spent it on the desperately needed scarf. This expresses the way consumerism has domination over people’s social skills. Persuading people so they can get what they want, minus the long interaction. People will put the want and desire of consumed good first in priority over social contact with the people around us. It is shown in the two texts that consumerism has supremacy over people’s lives, especially the bonds and relationships with the people around them.
People today want to be recognized as who they are within. But their behaviors and actions are so confronted with consumerism that it defines how they should be seen by others.
The lyrics of Macklemores hit single “WING$” quotes “These Nikes help define me, but I’m trying to take mine off…” This associates with the meaning of the text being that the product he has purchased categorizes him within society. The brand “Nike” is known globally therefore the individuality of owning the product is taken away. Referring to the last sentence of the lyrics “But I’m trying to take mine off” states he is trying to break free from the social group and be his own person following his own trends within society. Bruce Dawes’ poem “Breakthrough” criticizes that society has been blinded and influenced by advertisements and the media. The innocent little girl who died in hospital singing the song of an advertising commercial was so obsessed with branded names and what she could buy that even in her last moments she was tarnished by consumerism. The title of the poem “Breakthrough” has a sarcastic tone to it. It seems to commend but really it condemns. Dawe has shown here that the title is not the meaning it is shown to have, but the opposite. More appropriately suiting the title “A step back in society”. It’s not a breakthrough at all, yet it’s the complete opposite. Just like the little girl in breakthrough, the people of today’s society are combined all sharing the mutual knowledge of brands slogans and items that have transformed not only our lives but the generations yet to come into a national global market all in which share a common language, consumerism.
Individuals of society today would rather replace what they have with a brand new upgraded version, rather than fix and repair it their selves. This is shown through Bruce Dawes poem “Abandonment of Autos”. Dawe focuses on the degradation of emotion, in the consumerism culture, that has led to the car being treated as if it were a living, breathing object, capable of responding to human affection “It is the urban Arab’s Farewell To His Steed, Down to the final affectionate pat On the near mudguard before turning away” The word “is” used by Dawe is a metaphor. Dawe argues that the consumer product is still valuable. The response of the consumer is as if he is in disbelief, he would never had imagined the day he would part with his beloved car. This shown by “only the license-plate which he carried with him” in this context it is said in bitter sarcasm, as it is all the owner has to tie him to the relationship of him and his car, in saying this, the thought emerging about upgrading and replacing his car would arise and take the place of his beloved auto almost instantaneously. The demand of newer and up to date technology through consumerism puts demand on an individual to upgrade and buy the latest and best of the best, Bruce Dawes poem “Abandonment of autos” exhibits the potentials of consumerism in society significantly.
Consumerism has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate just so we can buy material we don’t need. It is a manipulative market place the society we live in, all in which are the ways the consumers devour their products. Each generation is becoming more and more dependent on consumed goods without even realizing, and within this time, we will be demanding advancement within society’s global market. Through Bruce Dawes poems and the chosen related texts we can still see today the importance of social status and the way in which people’s self-image is deceived by others. We also see the way society is shaping us, impaling us and shoving ideas into our heads of branded products whether it is a logo or a catchy slogan. Consumerism impacts people’s lives both mentally and physically and dominates people’s lives through the dependence of consumer goods; it’s displayed on a global scale and transforms people into people they don’t even realize they have become.
Until Next Time,
Robert Colin Bryant Founder, TBG Fotographie Ltd.
TBG Fotographie shoots the point at which beauty meets reality. Couture meets debris. Around the world. With attitude. To learn more about TGB Fotographie, and see our work, visit us at www.tbgfotographie.com