Tag Archives: consumerism

Mass Consumerism And You

4 Feb

The Super Bowl weekend is notorious for its gluttony and pervasive advertising, so I thought I’d post some counterprogramming for those of us who find this weekend’s fetishism of advertising and marketing to be, well, a bit obscene.

I’d like to present a series of videos culled from a documentary titled, Consuming Kids.

Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children’s advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.

Here’s the trailer:


As a parent of two toddlers, I see the pervasive marketing and advertising that is intended to influence my children and ultimately, my buying decisions. It’s everywhere, it’s immersive and it’s intended to insinuate brand awareness into every aspect of our lives. It’s the ultimate manifestation of a corporatist culture which demands that new consumers be introduced into the market at the earliest possible stage.

While we all ultimately have the final decision-making power with our dollars, the marketing stream stacks the deck against those of us who wish to delay our child’s entrance into the consumer culture.

Think Baby Einstein videos are helping your child learn? Think again. Think a barrage of sexualized messages about a market interpretation of beauty are having a negative effect on your daughter’s body image? You’re right.

We are the only industrialized nation with no standards or statutory guidelines on advertising to children. We used to have guidelines on this, but in 1980, the toy companies led a lobbying effort to repeal any limitations or standards which resulted into the bible of childhood marketing, the FTC Improvement Act of 1980. The documentary does a thorough job of demonstrating that “consumerizing” our children at such a young age results in serious financial and health risks for them.

Click through to watch the film…

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A Primer on Original Thought

7 Dec

I was lucky enough to spend a semester of college in Oxford, concentrating on Philosophy and Architecture and English in a traditional center of all three disciplines. I was immediately swept up and taken in the Tutororial style of learning, where professors are paired with students to direct their studies personally, one on one. The first week my Philosophy tutor, for example, would ask me what I wanted to know more about. Based upon my answer, he would assign reading. Lots of reading. A typical one hour session would end something like this: “Read these five books, and come back when you’re interesting.”

Consider these five videos your assigned reading for the week. If you are not yet familiar with the RSA Animate series of lectures, another British phenomenon . . . well, you’re welcome.

Why the desire for independence is a greater motivator than money:


How our schools do more than just resemble factories:


How our culture has decided consumerism can inherently fix poverty:


Identifying Empathy as the core evolutionary trait, not survival of the fittest:


And the lecture that got me hooked on the series, our varied perceptions of time:


Once you are interesting, please discuss below.

The Story of Stuff

28 Dec

With the chaotic consumerist orgy of Christmas now behind us, I thought I’d take a minute to share with you one of my favorite web videos of all time, The Story of Stuff.

Now, before you get started, this video is firmly in the tradition of polemics and you might want to quibble with some of the facts in the video.  However, the primary principles in the video are what I’m interested in sharing with you.  Our cultural need to consume and the corporatist influence which powers that consumer culture.  It also touches on some topics you might have forgotten since your last economics class in college, things like planned obsolescence, perceived obsolescence and externalized costs.  These issues inform our current societal structures and the decisions we make as citizens and voters and ultimately, the decisions made by elected leaders.

Watch it, process it, and let me know what you think.  Knee jerk libertarian counterpoints will be summarily dismissed and ignored, you bore me.