Wednesday 3rd of September 2014

consume, dear consumer, and be happy in the hands of lord business...


Everything is not awesome. The merry theme song of the LEGO movie invites us to believe that everything is. That is, until our plastic protagonists discover they are mere pawns in the game of "Lord Business".

So they decide to join forces to tap into their potential, ultimately overcoming the corporate titan's machinations to glue them down. In the end, the characters reclaim their autonomy, find new meaning in life, and manage to befriend Lord Business in the process. That was the take home message from The LEGO Movie. 

But some critics saw something subversive that I missed as I laughed over The LEGO movie with my six-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. The suggestion that in taking my kids to this film, I exposed them to a "practically communist" agenda is no laughing matter.

As BBC Culture recently reported, the new Pixar-inspired film is sparking the old gripe that Hollywood is cramming liberalism down our kids' throats. In reality, corporations are cramming consumerism down citizens' throats. Despite its "anti-capitalist" connotations, The LEGO Movie - a product of Hollywood, itself a booming business - has grossed in excess of $360 million worldwide.


Brainwashed not brainless

This is not a complaint. It was decent entertainment for a two-hour commercial. And like the dutiful consumer I am, I also purchased several books and toys based on the film.

If there is anything uncomfortable about Pixar films, it is the harsh truths they sometimes force us to confront. I still remember squirming in my seat when I took my kids to see WALL-E. Most of the parents and children seated around us were sipping a week's worth of sugar from oversized Styrofoam containers, bearing eerie resemblance to the obese characters on the screen.


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Gus: on perusing the Sunday Telegraph cartoons, this weekend (23/03/14) (I borrow the ST from next door) I wondered how the Calvin strip passed the censors at the ST — a sheet mostly designed to sell stuff and bash Labor in between adverts. Frame by frame, the cartoon strip was about being pestered by junk mail demanding that you contribute to this and buy more of that. The conclusion is quite telling and so close to the bone, it de-validated all the junk advertising that barely keeps these papers afloat. The "advertisors" must have been spewing chips.


May be the line is too subtle and we are too brainwashed to dismantle our shackles to consumerism. The manufacturers depend on our inability to see the trap while we laugh at the reveal. I have harped about this concept many times on this site, but to see it float in the MMMM (mediocre mainstream mass media) could be a sign of cultural shift.... (I wish — I am kiding myself, aren't I?)

Calving and his dinosaurian distractions always annoy me. But his philosophical discussion with his stuffed tiger reflect the often ruthless spirit in the little guy. But in this one effort, the creator of the strip revitalised the spirit of good satire rather than plod with its often dreamy entertainment. 

One of the major problem in our societies is not that "capitalism is bad"... But capitalism in the hands of conservatives is atrocious. Conservatives are like super-fat people at a pie-eating contest... They cannot stop stuffing themselves, even after the winner has been announced... Capitalism should be the province of socialism, where rules, restraint, regulations and "moderation" make the horse work for you in the fields so to speak, rather than help the riding master in his suit of armour run you, the little guy, over...



the checkout...

In one of his "editorials", Gus mentions the ABC TV show called The Hamster Wheel... This "editorial" which was supposed to only be a funny satire loaded with facts was deemed a great editorial by some people, to my dismay. Go figure... I only mean to write funny stuff with a few facts thrown in...

But, but, but... the same crew of sataristic geezers from The Hamster Wheel now front up a show called The Checkout... 

This great little show exposes the tricks used by consumer product manufacturers to entice A) the retailers to stock their products and B) for consumers to consume without knowing much about what they consume... 

Check it out....


even in german, you should be able to understand...

der spiegel

new app for pointless consumerism expressed so baldly...


There are a lot of reasons to dislike Telstra over and above the fact they have gouged Australian consumers for years for internet and mobile phone services and their customer service is often akin to an absurdist play.

You don't get 13,000 “likes” on a “I hate Telstra” Facebook page if you're not doing something to rile the natives.

Its latest transgression? The “New Phone Feeling” promotion, which locks customers into returning their “original phone undamaged and in good working order” so they can get another one ... every 12 months.

I'm not sure I have ever seen pointless consumerism expressed so baldly.

Never mind that phone nerds say the deal means you're in effect renting your handset and paying more for the privilege – can we open up the bulging “Crap You Do Not Need” file and slot this offer right next to leaf-blowers, tealights, leisurewear and matching luggage?

I guess when you can furnish a two bedroom apartment with the cast-offs dumped on your street every week, a redundant mobile phone purchase doesn't represent that many squandered earthly resources. Yet it's the unchallenged impulse that strikes me as the problem; so many people don't see it for what it is.

“It's just a phone!” “I need a new phone!” “It's cool!” “My old one can't do this!”

In February, Telstra chief customer officer Gordon Ballantyne said the “early handset upgrade offer” was about consumers experiencing that “feeling of opening a new box and getting a new piece of exciting technology”.

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