On the bumpers of self we slap stickers: “Shop ‘til you drop,” “He who dies with the most toys wins,” “People who say money can’t buy happiness, don’t know where to shop,” When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping,” “But I can’t be overdrawn! I still have checks left!,” “I’m spending my grandchildren’s inheritance,” “Nouveau riche is better than no riche at all,” “A woman’s place is in the mall.”
Soon the marketplace would capture this offloaded meaning and apply it to secular things. Buy this, you’ll be saved. You deserve a break today. You, you’re the one. We are the company that cares about you. You’re in good hands. We care. Trust in us. We are here for you.
Nine times out of ten [clearly a rhetorical flourish rather than a statistical report], if you take a course in anything described as Cultural Studies, you will find that individuals are invariably seen as victims, while your instructor is the sage protector.
(1) Humans are consumers by nature. We are tool users because we like to use what tool using can produce. In other words, tools are not the ends but the means.
One might well wonder if there is anything more to American life than shopping. After all, we are all consumers now, consumers of everything – consumers of health services, consumers of things and ideas, consumers of political representation, even consumers of what high culture there is left.
Most consumption, whether or entertainment or of what’s in the grocery store, is active. We are engaged. In fact, observe yourself watching and you will see that unlike reading, which really is passive, watching television is almost frantic with creative activity [italics mine].
The French sociologists see consumer culture as multiple and interpenetrating discourses or fields, rather than as a singular dominant ideology that can be accepted or resisted. In the spirit of reader-response theory in literary criticism, they see meaning not rigidly super-applied to consumer goods by producers who hold the meaning stable, but rather supplied by the user who jumbles various interpretations simultaneously. Consumers are just [sic] another interpretive community. They are readers.