Attention Shoppers! Memorial Day, Simple Living and Consumer Culture

May 29, 2012


Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for fallen soldiers, is also thought of as mostly a day of shopping by many Americans, according to Time Magazine.  According to analyses from social media sites, most people were excited about shopping, not barbecues, this past Memorial Day weekend.

Many of the articles and media segments seemed to aim their shopping advertisements ideas towards women and the purchasing of clothing.  If you live in the United States, is apparent that our consumer culture runs deep:  Christmas seems to be the most obvious in its ludicrousness, with people tripping over each other after Thanksgiving to buy a tickle-me Elmo doll or find the best deal at Wal-Mart.  Whether it is TV commercials, shows with product placements (or not-very-well-disguised ads scripted into many of them), or celebrity gossip magazines, consumer culture does not seem to be halting any time soon.

Things that are hopeful, however, are out there:  websites like, Reverend Billy and his film, What Would Jesus Buy?, and the Simple Living Institute all advocate more simple living, less material possessions, and less shopping.   The advertisements for Memorial Day Sales, however, still manage to depress me.  Not because I think we should all be sitting around sulking, but in American culture, to have a holiday usually includes something shiny and new.  That might be exciting for a few moments, but where are the peace rallys, the tree plantings?  They’re out there, but where is their coverage?  I don’t expect Good Morning America to do a complete 180 and have them cover money-free events happening  on Memorial Day, skipping Ann Taylor dress sales altogether, but with more and more consumerism happening, the crimes against the earth simply trickle-down, and it is the media’s job to start bring awareness into the limelight.  We have been creating a temporary, pop-up economy.  And besides the earthly destruction it creates, it doesn’t make us any happier.  Statistically, depression is on the rise.  Consumerism works to fill empty voids with air, making one think they need more and more stuff in a never-ending cycle.  Memorial Day (and other holidays) can be about much more, creating memories that people are able to have forever, unlike that new coffee maker that simply replaces your old, albeit not-in-the-best-shape-but-still-works one.

I am not saying that we should darn all of our old socks instead of buying new ones (although you could!).  But shopping just to shop, and buying new shoes that make your butt tighter just because Kim Kardashian says you should, does not make one happy or fulfilled.  It feeds the heartless capitalist model of profit and being top dog.  Memorial Day Sales may seem harmless on the surface, like a girl jumping in the air on a sunny day in a JC Penny’s ad, but like Inga Muscio might say, maybe we should be celebrating love rather than encouraging destruction, sweatshops and manufacturing chemicals.


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