See Morgan Spurlock’s New Documentary

May 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

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Just saw this a week and a half ago at the Hot Docs Film Festival. For anyone interested in product placement and the infiltration of advertising in all aspects of our existence, this is the documentary to see. What I thought the movie highlighted well is how inescapable advertising is (unless you live in a remote area) in North America and how much it has become part our normal landscape. I now come to expect odd insertions of lines advertising products in movies and tv shows and almost don’t notice them anymore. It was a good reminder of how much our minds are jammed and polluted by all of this stuff.

Winter Made in Canada

November 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Since I determined in the summer that I would try my best to buy clothing made in Canada, the USA and other countries that have protective labour laws, I’ve avoided buying much.  I did end up at H&M because I’d been given gift certificate for my birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about shopping at H&M. Their website has a whole section devoted to corporate responsibility that explains the steps they are taking to make the company more sustainable, as well as their involvement in improving worker conditions using the company’s financial power and influence. I’m still pretty skeptical about H&M’s claims, but I wasn’t going to let the gift certificate go to waste!

Other than that, I’ve avoided buying clothing. One reason for this is the realization that I have way too much stuff already. The other reason is that I was afraid of the commitment I had made. I made the commitment in the first place not only because supporting companies that avoid sweatshop labour  (like American Apparel) is important, but for me simply knowing that the clothing on my back was not made by a woman or child who was abused and exploited while working in slave-like conditions is important for my mental and spiritual well-being. My purchasing power may not change the world, but like I’ve written in earlier posts, I do believe that all of this goes back to my responsibility to God, the Judge of all things. However, although I’m not a big shopper, I do love nice clothes and I’ve been afraid of entering the mall only to fall in love with clothes that were off limits to me because of my resolution.  Therefore, I’ve simply stayed away. It has been a good thing so far because I’ve saved money I’ve earned and thought a lot more about my consumption.

Then winter hit. I have a winter coat but it’s not warm enough for the dropping temperatures. I couldn’t put it off any longer; it was time for a trip to the mall. I know that God blesses good intentions, so I set my intention to do something good, and put my trust in Him that he would guide me to what I needed. I then laid out a plan in my head: I would only shop at the stores that had items that were made in Canada, and if I couldn’t find anything there, I’d go to H&M as a last resort. I knew three stores, Le Chateau, Tristan, and Jacob, manufacture some items in Canada so that’s where I would start.

I made the mistake of going to the mall on Saturday, the day after Black Friday (the official beginning of Christmas shopping season) and people had come out in droves for the Christmas shopping pilgrimage. I became frustrated within minutes of entering the building, but knew I had to get this coat or freeze this winter. I first went to Le Chateau and was surprised to find that half of their large winter coat selection was made in Canada. I tried things on, but didn’t like anything I tried on. It frustrated me because I couldn’t believe that I would be this superficial as to pass up these coats for the sake of fashion! I decided then to check out the other stores and return later to resolving this internal dilemma if need be. The other stores didn’t in fact have any ‘made in Canada’ coats, and I couldn’t even find anything I liked at H&M. I was ready to (temporarily) give up on my resolution at this point and get a coat from any other store.

But I realized I was being stupid, and that it would be better to go back to Le Chateau and just pick something; my principles are so much more important than fashion! This time a store clerk helped me, and suggested I try a particular coat. He told me he really liked how it looked on me, and then it dawned on me that it was the first coat I’d tried on when I got to the mall. It did look good, I don’t know what had prevented me from seeing that earlier.  Before I could change my mind again, I purchased the coat and headed home.

I wondered about this frustrating trip and thought to myself, “If I had just bought a coat at Le Chateau in the first place it would have saved me a lot of trouble.” My experience may seem like no big deal, but it’s important to me because I learned a few things about sticking to my principles. I was also so proud of myself because, while others at the mall lost themselves in the race to buy the latest products that are commonly mistaken as the keys to happiness and fulfillment, I had set myself apart by setting out only to buy something I needed that was manufactured by workers that were fairly paid for the items they made. I also didn’t fail by buying another coat I liked a lot better (I did like other coats a whole lot better than the one I purchased, but they were made in China) resisting my own mental slavery to fashion.

I know that the One sees into my heart and I pray that His witnessing the good I tried to do will lead to my happiness in His happiness with me.

I Am Free…?

October 9, 2010 § 5 Comments

Till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind. And not the child’s mind only. The adult’s mind too-all his life long. The mind that judges and desire and decides-made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions… Suggestions from the State.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 2

Every time I drive into the city, I am struck by the incredible number of billboards that line the roads as I drive into the downtown core. Once upon a time I was able to observe to beautiful lake to my right, but now that view is blocked by a cluster of waterfront condos that have turned the public space into corporate profit. Now my eyes are drawn to the left, to the wonderful billboards that educate me on where I’m lacking in my life: how imperfect my body necessarily is, how behind the times all my current electronics are, how much TV I’m missing, and the things I must buy in order to correct all of these problems that are keeping me from my true happiness and satisfaction.

I am constantly bombarded by advertising wherever I go and there seems to be no escape. Everything – everything – can be made into an ad. I often don’t know what to do with myself when I’m in urban centres because my mind is overloaded with these messages that make me feel that the magic of life is in what I buy. I wonder what it’ll be like as these centres expand and if there will truly be places to escape. I wonder what this constant bombardment is doing to my brain: Do I make proper choices or am I fooled into doing what I’m being told to do and fooling myself into thinking I have real control over what I do?

Why G20 Protest?

September 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

In the days before the G20 summit in Toronto, much of the local debate centered around the right to protest/the right of the police to keep the area safe and clear. Many observers who were not involved were completely unsure of why people were even protesting, and simply dismissed protesters as troublemakers with an ambiguous set of causes. Though I agree that a few who showed up were simply troublemakers, the majority of the protesters had every right to be there and had very valid reasons for doing so. There were a large number of individuals representing different groups with specific aims, but I’d like to post an description from the G8/20 Toronto Community Mobilization website in the hope of giving a general picture of why thousands (around 10,000) showed up to protest:

The so called ‘leaders’ and bankers of the twenty richest countries are meeting in Huntsville and Toronto on 25-27 June 2010 at the G8 and G20 Summits. They are meeting to make decisions that will result in more exploitation of people and the environment. They want to ensure that the systems that increase colonization, wars and displacement are maintained. In direct resistance, we are coming together to create a just world that puts people before corporate and elite profit.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network is collaborating for change in Toronto and in the world.  Join the process; everyone is a part of this work.

The network is a collection of Toronto-based organizers and allies, that will use the fleeting moment of the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto in June 2010 in Ontario to come together and share the work that we do every other day of the year.  We will build the momentum for a movement for Indigenous Sovereignty and Self-Determination, Environmental and Climate Justice, Migrant Justice and an End to War and Occupation, Income Equity and Community Control over Resources, Gender Justice and Queer and disAbility rights.

With power and vision, people of colour, indigenous peoples, women, the poor, the working class, queer and trans people and disabled people will create and lead alternatives; will decide for themselves; will transcend the systems that oppress them and keep them from talking to one another.

Source: http://g20.torontomobilize.org/getinformed

The Adbusters Take on Hipsters

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

“We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality.”

I first read the article “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization” in Adbusters Magazine when the issue came out in 2008. I thought it was a great take on the hipster fad, exposing the so-called counterculture for the shallow consumer trend it really is. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.

An amalgamation of its own history, the youth of the West are left with consuming cool rather that creating it. The cultural zeitgeists of the past have always been sparked by furious indignation and are reactionary movements. But the hipster’s self-involved and isolated maintenance does nothing to feed cultural evolution. Western civilization’s well has run dry. The only way to avoid hitting the colossus of societal failure that looms over the horizon is for the kids to abandon this vain existence and start over.

Read the entire article: https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html

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