[rumori] Re: pho: "Consumer" is a Dirty Word

From: Don Joyce (djATwebbnet.com)
Date: Wed May 23 2001 - 12:13:51 PDT

Your many thoughts on this are well taken and I agree, but as to your
specific post ploy - I remember seeing it and thinking it does not warrent
(or perhaps deserve) an objecting reply, although I thought it was stupid,
as indeed is the song content (though not necessarily the music involved
which is why music is so impossible to pick apart as an emotional

I just caught a rerun of the PBS Frontline documentary on teens in a samll,
wealthy suburb riddled by teen debauchery. The most perplexing scene among
MANY was the one of the three spoiled 15 year old white girls sitting on a
bed in an expensive house reciting in unison lengthy rap lyrics they all
liked which were a totally obscene description of brutish group sex. Shock
produces SHOCK.
(and ironically, I'm so glad PBS did NOT censor any of the many obscene
words coming out of the mouths of these babes!)
The only rule of capitalist consumerism is..."whatever." Yet any pulling
back from this smacks of prudish, if not political, censorship. We have a
society in which we are becoming as much the victims of freedom as the
beneficieries, but since no one can figure out how to distinguish this FOR
EVERYONE, we must all become schizsophrenic about "values," becoming the
spiritually compartmentalized consumers you describe. Yes, we are stuck in
consumerist Hell, but we can still choose what parts of it to buy for our
own little corner of it. THAT's freedom.

The right wing is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT that mass media content, especially
music and movies, routinely effects the actions, activities, and mind sets
of young humans, yet the left routinely rejects this obvious logic simply
BECAUSE it is a realization from the right. And the left is correct to be
wary of the right's blanket solutions of content censorship as being a
danger to artistic integrity. Common sense says we cannot reduce the
"values" within all content to the lowest common denominator of operational
teenage suggestibility, yet everyone knows these willingly impressionable
sponges can get anything out there anytime they want it, and they DO! It's
all really quite hopeless, you know. To quote a replicant in Blade Runner,
"We're stupid, and we'll die."

The only crises this culture really faces is one of PARENTING, and NO ONE
is prepared or capable of enforcing wiser paths in THAT domain. No one can
agree what that might actually be in the 21st Century. Simple neglect
(usually called either "being liberal" or "We both have to work") is the
default norm. So stupid parents raise stupid kids, not to mention the
stupid kids that smart parents raise, and it seems there's nothing anyone
can do about stupid kids except watch them run away and kill themselves
(spiritually if not physically) and then be SO shocked.

Meanwhile, the WHATEVER teen economy is exploited for all its worth with
virtually no conscience required or implied there either, but part of all
that "healthy" booming is another kind of thunder coming this way.
"Yonder stands your orphan with his gun." - B. Dylan


>A couple days ago, I posted this:
>shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tit fart turd and twat
>shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tit fart turd and twat
>shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tit fart turd and twat
>shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tit fart turd and twat
>I fucked your mom
>And I wanna suck my dad
>and my mamma too
>oh, is this thing on
>- Family Reunion, by Blink-182
>First, let me say that if this were me 2 months - no, even 2 *weeks* ago
>- I wouldn't find that offensive. I would find it mildly amusing and
>move on. However, I've been thinking about a lot of things lately, and
>I've decided that there's more to that song than dirty lyrics. So, that
>song became somewhat of a test to see how others would react to it. I
>purposely inserted this piece into normal dialogue to see if it would be
>accepted as everything else, or it would be something that caused a
>Well, I guess the outcome is obvious (save for JP, but I'll get back to
>that). But why? After all, this is Pho - there are about 1000 people
>on this list, and music is part of everybody's interests. Say 5 people
>read my post (I know, a bit on the optimistic side), and 2 people were
>offended. At least one person should have posted a reply to my post
>saying they found it inappropriate. Why didn't that one person post the
>Perhaps it's because of complacency. Because of the principle of
>"monkey see no other monkey do, therefore monkey not do". This
>principle has been around forever, so I guess we /can't/ say that this
>is the reason that the person didn't write anything. Therefore, we must
>delve deeper.
>Let's think about the basics - the basics of how we as people decide
>when to react. This is usually based around a social norm, and that
>social norm is usually defined by people - by people, as a society, as a
>group of human beings setting standards. Some way or the other, all of
>us monkeys get together and say "we're not going to chide someone when
>they say 'this sucks'", or "if someone says <insert your favorite
>offensive thing here>, we will vocally complain." There's a little
>problem, you see. In today's society, we don't sit around as a bunch of
>humans and decide what is right and what is wrong. We don't make
>decisions as humans with regards to decency.
>We make decisions as consumers.
>And *this* is the basis of a lot of the problems facing society today -
>we have "evolved" from a society of humans to a society of consumers.
>In today's world, humans no longer make decisions. Market forces make
>decisions. The never-ending march of efficiency, my former friend,
>dictates that people are better off deciding with their wallets than
>with their minds and their emotions.
>Or are they? Are we *really* better off as consumers? Is that whole
>human thing really all that bad? I, for one, don't think so. In fact,
>I think that the closer we inspect this problem, the closer we get to a
>truth that I didn't want to face 2 weeks ago, out of my own disbelief
>that my life as a consumer meant nothing for my life as a human - humans
>and consumers are two different creatures.
>Consumerism is such an interesting concept - when I think of consumers
>these days, I envision donkeys with carrots placed in front of them. I
>don't know how the entire idea of being a consumer came to be, but I do
>know that it is viral and ruins the lives of the humans it attempts to
>placate; the consumers who do not feel miserable are the consumers who
>are being ignorant to the world around them. To a greater extent, I
>find the mission of consumerism to be pretty much ridiculous - it's an
>attempt by society to replace human behaviors and human emotions with
>the consumer equivalents.
>And this - this mission - is what initially scared and now disgusts me.
>Consumerism attempts to approximate everything - every behavior, every
>emotion - so that it may package and sell it to those who are able to
>pay. Even if this approximation is a very poor attempt, it is marketed
>into consumers' brains to the point where they feel that nothing could
>be better, nothing could be safer, nothing could be that good. Normal
>human behaviors are repackaged and sold as part of the consumer
>lifestyle - instead of hanging out with a bunch of your friends and
>playing the bongo drums and being reckless youth, you are taught that
>you should go to the mall and engage in social activity in a place that
>cannot be described as anything but a hub of consumer activity.
>Consumer emotions are a harsh substitute for real love and real
>happiness. You might think you are happy with your nice SUV, your house
>on the hill, and your large bank account, but the very foundations of
>consumerism dictate that you will never be truly happy and content, as
>you must continually consume - you must always attempt to acquire that
>which you do not have. Such behaviors drive people mad.
>The substitution of consumerism for human behaviors also poses many
>problems and risks to society (well, other than the obvious ones). I
>think that being a consumer for a long enough period of time means that
>you build up a "resistance" to certain things (such as the lyrics on
>that song) - kind of like you build a resistance to certain diseases.
>This, however, means that encountering human emotions such as pain
>results in a reaction not unlike the one which occurs in a 65 year old
>encountering chicken pox for the first time in his life - it's severely
>damaging and potentially life-threatening. I now think that it is wrong
>to say that kids are shooting each other in schools because of violent
>video games, but for different reasons than before. The violence in the
>video games /is/ wrong, but the kids playing these games have built up a
>resistance to them; they are jaded, and the games no longer affect them.
>If, however, these kids encounter something purely human and foreign to
>their consumer brains - such, as, say getting rejected by a girl or
>experiencing pain as a result of bullying - these kids have no idea what
>do to. Their consumer society never taught them how to be humans and
>how to deal with such things, so they go mad and kill people. In other
>words, don't look at it as "games are killing the kids", but as "human
>emotions are killing the consumers."
>Because consumers can't handle human emotions, they attempt to avoid
>them at all costs. I am sure that humans who lived thousands of years
>ago experienced death on a regular basis, and therefore death became a
>normal part of their lives. In today's consumer society, our inability
>to deal with death means that we try to postpone it for as long as
>possible; we pray for the day that we can live forever, as much for our
>own interest in living forever as for hoping that we never have to
>experience the pain of seeing someone die. Of course, the opposite of
>the consumer's avoidance of human emotions is the lust for the images
>that are marketed to them. Consumers are trained to believe that the
>things they see will make them happy and loved, so they want to be those
>images more than anything else. You don't even have to think about it
>much to conclude that it's quite sad.
>Ah, but this post was about that song and those lyrics, was it not? So,
>here is my conclusion - the reason for why nobody said anything about
>that song was because they probably felt that it was a waste of their
>time to bother, or that they can't do anything about it. Perhaps we all
>feel that we "vote with our wallets." Well, this is my message to you:
>if you think something is disturbing, or something is wrong, say it!
>Yes, you might hurt my feelings! Yes, I might experience pain, you
>might experience guilt, it might be bad! Yes, this means that there is
>a risk in saying what you feel! But yes, it's the right thing to do!
>Quit worrying about "spending habits", "trends", and other consumer
>You'll love it, I promise. It will hurt, it will confuse; but if you're
>aren't thinking like a human, you aren't truly alive.
>Damnit, I love my life. Long periods of thought leading to
>self-realization ROCK.
>PS: I forgot to mention - JP actually emailed me and said he didn't
>like the lyrics. I replied to JP too quickly and went off on a bad
>tangent about the record industry when I later realized that there was a
>larger system that needed to be fixed. JP, you're awesome for standing
>up and saying something, however I think both of us feel that there
>should have been more people who found those lyrics offensive, although
>we probably have different reasonings behind this. :-)
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