Yesterday I was in the grocery store, not the coop, the grocery store, in line to buy batteries for my camera, when I noticed the woman in front of me reading the covers of the magazines. And I started to do the same thing.
And I wished there was something better for us to look at. When I’m at the coop, there is. There’s Cook’s magazine, there’s Communities magazine about intentional living communities, there’s Bitch magazine, there’s even an unschooling zine.
But in the supermarkets that most of us visit, every magazine in the checkout line has idealized images of celebrities, unless it’s a really trashy magazine, then it has pictures of celebrities made to look worse off than they are, because trashy magazines understand schadenfreude.
Remember: If you want to control the population,
you first seek to entertain them.
How many people do you know seeking entertainment every day just because it’s there? Whether videogames, movies, or novels, what does it add?
Why are we “entertaining” ourselves when 1 in 3 people in America are in poverty or dangerously close to it?
What I want to know is, Who is Asking for this type of entertainment?
I mean, YOU know and I know that what’s on the covers of these magazines is the most boring fluff paid for (and written by) advertisers who know that the only way you’ll spend money is if you have been made insecure about your appearance via an airbrushed cover combined with airbrushed shampoo ads and airbrushed lipstick ads and airbrushed clothing ads. Everyone in the world has a perfect life except you.
Have you ever gotten caught up in that whole mindset though?
Just thinking, if this is what rich and happy looks like, then
Yeah, if I dump this nonprofit job and go with that corporate job, I’ll really be happy, because then my life will be so beautiful. I can buy all of that stuff I’ve wanted for years, like a new car and a smartphone and a whole new wardrobe and I will get those dresses in those magazines that use native people like background scenery.
Then I’ll get engaged and married and have a wedding and it will be exactly like all of those engagement and wedding pictures I see with people all laughing and dressed up all crazy with all of the people they met from burning man and we won’t talk about race or racism or classism or structures of oppression or the cultural appropriation happening with the feather headdresses or headdresses from tribal people of northern thailand and we won’t ask “Why are our lives so empty of meaning that we have to appropriate other people’s cultures and pretend it’s halloween all the time?”
Every time we are confronted with “aspirational images” or advertising or magazines or photographs of weddings or idealized home images
We can ask, “What makes me happy right now? Does that have anything to do with anything I bought?”
And maybe even ask,
“When I’m alone, and quiet, and sitting by myself in a quiet room, and I ask myself what really matters, Is it money? Is it fame? Is it power? Is it having stuff? Is it vacations? Is it a wedding day photo album where for one day we pretended we had all of these things? Or is that even emptier?”
What if we checked out of all of that ideology?
What if we stopped celebrating all of these consumerist holidays?
What if we valued something more precious?
What if we valued our time, and creating our own legacy every day in each interaction, in our writing, our music, our art, our lives and our labor? What if we worked to get a political system that reflected us, a department of peace instead of a department of homeland security? What if we articulated our values and LIVED THEM like we MEANT IT?
I’m not telling you it’s wrong to want all of these things. I want a lot of things. I want a new car. I want a house so I can stop paying rent. I want a garden. I want a new sweater. And I probably want them all because I was influenced by propaganda too. But I don’t for one minute believe that those things will make me any happier than I am right now.
And right now I’m working to leave a body of work so that people will know that I was here, and what I stood for, and that I cared. What will YOU leave behind?
What do you want?
What do you think of supermarket tabloids and magazines? What would YOU like to see instead?
Here’s a thought. Why don’t you start a blog too, and start becoming the media instead of passively looking at their crap?
If you liked this post, you might also like:
My Critique of Vacation Packages via Guy de Bord
Are you a nonprofiteer AND a good consumer?
VIDEO: How Can You Recognize Propaganda?
How do you create a media empire for your nonprofit?
You might also like Pam Slim, Author of Escape from Cubicle Nation’s post on “Blow Up Traditional Careers in favor of bodies of work.”