So okay I admit it, window shopping/browsing stores used to be a weekend hobby! But I haven’t been a ‘real’ consumer for around ten years now [preferring the more interesting finds to be had at car-boot sales and in charity/junk shops] and must therefore be on the verge of being ‘sacked’ from the 21st Century [Not that I’m too gloomy at the prospect. To my mind ‘consumption’ is still the term for the terminal phase of tuberculosis].
Fellow citizens! The time is now to consume. Why skimp, when you deserve more? Fellow citizens! Do your part, and make waste. Life is easier when you lighten the load. Fellow citizens! The time is…
Ergo proxy, anime television series, Manglobe, 2006
Shopping online is great for things that you know you already want/need [for price comparison] but pretty useless for making ‘surprising discoveries’. The problem I find, having wide ranging interests and eclectic tastes, is that the ‘recommendation’ engines of most retailers are frankly ineffectual. Just because I buy a book about Celtic knot designs doesn’t mean I want another ten books on the same subject. Just because I buy the excellent Rubik’s Revenge 5×5 puzzle doesn’t mean I also want all the naff Rubik’s cube spin offs. Just because I buy a quirky film by a certain director doesn’t mean I also want all his mediocre mainstream trash.
Take me to your leader aka your personal shopper
I went into my local WHSmith yesterday [first time in years] and was shocked at how down at heel it was! [faded sticky nightclub carpet / end of line bargain buckets] I used to spend hours here in the 1990’s before the internet really took off, eagerly reading computer mag games’ walkthroughs for Tombraider and Resident Evil, etc. and thumbing the book titles. Of course the store used to be a major seller of books then, whereas now the titles seem restricted to crossover/tie ins [Lego Batman/Star Wars/Harry Potter] and trashy nonebrity biographies and long past their sell-by date ripoffs [101 uses of a dead kindle – oh please] All the ‘young adult’ books looked exactly the same [black spines – teenage angst? – big title lettering]. The whole product range seemed a bit ‘franchise’ to me [a la Alien, .., Aliens IV, Aliens vs Predator, Aliens meet the Fockers, Aliens go to the seaside and make sandcastles then go home for a nice cup of tea and a nap, etc] and this malaise doesn’t seem restricted to this outlet/retailer.
Where are all the exciting products? In your local £1 shop! Yes! I expect this may be due to cheaper items meaning more risk taking is possible? Or more ‘strange’ items are stocked to grab your attention? [I will share some £1 ‘object d’art’ finds in future tongue-in-cheek posts category, ‘gems of the future’]. It seems in several millennia we have gone from being hunters and gatherers to wannabe trending coolhunters.
I’ve always loved George A. Romero’s classic 1978 social commentary horror movie Dawn of the Dead [there’s nothing creepier than a dead mall – as this art imitating life imitating art article so freakily demonstrates].
“Why do they come here?”
“Instinct? This used to be an important place in their lives.”
Still I mustn’t grumble. From the WHSmith end-of-line bargain bin I picked up a cute little plastic wind-up toy [I used to collect these years ago – had over 300 at one point] eggbot, who’s head/arms/accessories are interchangeable with his seven siblings. Now that’s imaginative. Maybe all is not yet lost?
Here’s an important document from 1964 by philosopher Herbert Marcuse, which offers a wide-ranging critique of contemporary capitalism.