Gluttony and Greed
‘ Gluttonous greed is all around us, Slavish obsession with money and goods, Consumers of taste we salivate,
Never satisified we are irate, Craving more we kill for the sweet taste of materialism, Designer labels, more shoes, more food we roll in the bed of our own greed’
In our post-modern state the boundaries between reality and fantasy are blurred creating a simulated world. In a simulation of reality we are disconnected from boundaries and rules allowing us to exert free will without thought for the consequences that will befit the ‘real’ world. Innately tied to the image of ‘simulation’ is post-modern consumerism, whereby the consumers ‘consume’ to enhance the production of self in a ‘hyper-real world.Jean Baudrillard claims that consumerism or late capitalism is an exstention of the ‘hyper real’ which exists in ‘codes’ and signifiers. The ‘codes’ and ‘signifiers’ that we use to actively ‘consume products’ is a coded language that determines who we are as consumers and the economic ‘order’ and ideology we inhabit.
Baudrillard argues that as consumers we desire to become the objects that we ‘buy’ becoming ’empty’ participants of ‘consumerism’. We are empty because the purchases we make are devoid of meaning and are carried out as an automated function of human greed and gluttony. Our empty purchases are what Malapas calls a ‘sham’ because there is no emotional bond and exist purely to make us become consumers without a voice. In other words we become victims of the Hyperdermic Needle whereby the media- the perpetuators of post-modern consumerism- feeds us the ‘notion’ to spend until we are crawling into the gutter and the advertisments that comprimised our psychological sense of self are reaping the rewards.
Entering a phase of ‘wish fufilment’ we continue to consume because we are never wholly satisfied with what we have got, creating an unhappy ‘cycle’ of spending.In fact -insert percent- of consumers have stated that their need to consume the latest products can cause ‘debt’ , poor self-esteem, poor awareness of societies that exist outside their consumerist vision and an inability to stop spending. Like a parasite consumerism is hard to shake off and we are left making poor choices about what we do or do not consume. Speaking from personal experience money has always been a bug bear for me. Growing up I did not have much material goods to add to my name and financial gratification was non-existient. When I got my first paycheck it was like a light had switched on in my head and the thrill of getting money quickly founded my obsession with spending it like tap water. I had no inclination to save and still to this day I struggle to not spend money on unneccessary items and why is this? I spend for gratification and because it makes me feel good and yet I am never wholly satisfied.
Consumerism has polluted the very nature of humanity and many of us are wrapped up in a bubble of self-gratification without thought for others who exist outside our circle of financial gratification. Poverty has increased and we are too blind to notice. So what can we do? If consumerism is an aesthetic and cultural expression of self then taking it away completely will mean that a part of ourselves will be lost. Instead we must actively think about the ‘neccessity’ of the purchases we are making and question our choices so that we become happier, more satisfied consumers. By limiting our purchases and resisting the lure of enticing adverts (published by the media to increase our spending habits) the power of our consumption exists purely in our own hands.
But how did we become so obsessed with our pursuit for a material existience? Economic materialism occurred in the late 17th century and by the early 18th century consumer culture was imbedded deeply in our cultural values and traditions. The causative effect of propelling consumer culture forward has been linked to two central ideas; the industrial revolution and the introduction of Colonialism and the growth of a middle class market who embraced new ideas about luxury consumption. The middle class market saw fashion as a medium to ‘purchase’ rather than ‘buy’ meaning that spending was no longer a neccessity but a trival pleasure to consume. Critics argue that the expansion of a middle class economy meant that it was vital to spend for the reproduction of capitalist competition for markets and profits during a rapid increase in technological productivity.
But now we are no longer conscious buyers but are driven by institutional forces to stop paying bills, reject responsibility and become empty vessels of post-modern consumerism. We spend to be satisfied but we are always craving more and we crave more because it is linked to our psychological sense of self in the postmodern world. Our sense of identity becomes fragmented and we are now split between reality and simulation unable to tell the difference between the two. So where does it leave us as consumers in 2015?
Have your say! What are your thoughts on consumerism and is affecting your lifestyle?
Photography: Jumanna Khanom
Duster Waistcoat: Miian
Turtleneck: Pretty Little Thing
Boots: Lily Lulu