Consumerism. Face or Heel.

Posted on Sunday, 22nd January 2012 @ 12:28 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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Many of us watched Professional Wrestling as teens, or even still do as adults. I hate to break the bubble for WWE  fans, but yes; the matches are fake and pre-enacted. And for those who don’t know  a Face is usually referred to as the good guy, the good character that the crowd loves. The Heel is usually the Bad Guy( the crowd also loves the bad guys sometimes). Both terms; face and heel, are frequently in American culture, and vocabulary to refer to the good guy or the bad guy respectively. But what is the analogy between being  face or heel to consumerism?

The term “Consumerism”  as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the advocacy in the rights and interests of consumers. And that the consumption of goods is always good for the economy. In developed first world countries, we have what is called a consumer culture. Consumer Culture is defined as a culture in which the attainment of material possessions, and the consumption of goods and service, lead individuals to achieve higher social status, and even happiness. In other words, “consumer culture” is a culture that values people based on their material possessions. There are many who advocate consumerism, and the consumer culture, and consider it the good guy(to be a Face). And there are others who consider it the bad guy, or evil(to be a Heel). In other words, Consumerism just like a Professional Wrestling superstar, can be considered a face or heel.

Consumerism as a Face.

Many die hard fans of consumerism, advocate it saying that it had been with us throughout history. And that many ancient cultures like Egypt, Babylon, and Rome were consumer cultures similar to those on first world countries today. They  also that the continuous consumption of goods and services is always beneficial to the economy thus it increases demand, and therefore production increase.

Also many view Consumerism as the good guy because it promotes individuality, happiness, and empowerment; because it dictates the “Zeitgeist”( German translation for “the spirit of the times”). Zeitgeist is the socio-economic, cultural, and political changes, moods, and trends of an era.  According to  pro-consumerists, the consumer culture is the one that dictates what the society should consume, and not the producers of goods and services; thus setting the Zeitgeist of the time.

Consumerism as a Heel.

There are also many who view consumerism as the bad guy. Many critics of consumerism defend their position stating that it causes class stratification, and a materialist society. Critics say that consumerism drives people to not just only buy what they need and satisfy their needs; but also to acquire social status and happiness by compulsively buying goods and services, instead of focusing on their spiritual and aesthetic needs.

Also in contrast with the idea of pro-consumerists that Consumerism promotes individality and empowerment to buyers to set the Zeitgeist of the times; many anti-consumerists believe that is quite the opposite. They believe that Consumerism allows individuals to be dominated by the rich and powerful through media and  advertisement.

How the masses are being dominated by the rich and powerful, through media and advertisement as Consumerism critics claim?

Well according to Consumerism critics, big corporations drive people to  buy mass-produced goods they don’t  need; and also to become obsessed with consumption, even to the point of defining who they are by the products they consume.  How they do this?

1) Unethical advertisement

2) Omission

Unethical advertisement, is any advertisement that appeal to negative emotions in people, like fear, insecurities, and uncertainty. For example, the fashion industry: if you lose this much weight, or dress and act this way or that way, you will be beautiful and appealing to the opposite sex. That’s why they have unhealthy anorexic-looking models walking on the runways in NYC, Paris, Milan, LA, etc… Another example is the sex appeal in products focused to the male audience; for example: if you buy this truck, or that beer, you will more of  a man!

Omission is when the media omits information from viewers, and only put whatever they want to be heard and viewed by the public; and full disclosure is not provided about the products being bought and consumed.

Face or Heel. That is the question!

We had looked both sides of Consumerism, consumerism as the good guy, and as the bad guy. But  what is the conclusion.

Well going back to the Professional Wrestling analogy; some WWE superstars are both face and heel, and sometimes change roles during their careers; from face to heel, and vice-versa . Consumerism in our society is the same way. It can be both face and heel; positive and negative. It can positively affect society because, the continuous consumption of products and services increases demand, and therefore increases production. Also yes, it is agreeable that consumption gives empowerment and individuality to the individual consumer up to a point. However it can also be negative to society; because it can promote materialist values, thus driving people to ignore spiritual, and aesthetic needs. In conclusion.

Consumerism has many positives and negatives; it can make a society of productive empowered individuals, or a society of materialistic walking zombies.







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