Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Consumocracy Coda

Regarding the "consumocracy" (blog October 13, 2007), I must add that while glancing at NFL football games on TV, I saw three commercial advertisements, one for Burger King, one for Toyota, and one for Visa. Each has a tag-line or slogan, of course:

Burger King's is "Have it your way," which is lovely because it says the exact opposite of what Fast Food is all about--namely, that if you eat at a franchise-outlet, you will, by definition, have it the franchise's way. It's also lovely because it can be taken ironically, as being similar to "Knock yourself out," which is usually a prelude to conflict. "Have it your way" [followed by faux-weary sigh]--and battle ensues. Nonetheless, I do love the fact that burgers have a king. The universe of ground-beef is, indeed, feudal, a civilization in which the warlords McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King wage permanent war around the globe. If one were to open a Burger Princess restaurant, one would hear immediately from the King's lawyers, I assume.

Toyota's slogan is "Moving forward," which I presume is the least anyone would want from a motorized vehicle, although a vehicle's capacity to back up has proven itself to be useful, too. Why not: "Moving forward, backward, at angles, and in broad curves"? I guess that wouldn't be catchy enough.

Maybe you've seen the Visa commercial ad, in which "everyone" is swiping plastic Visa cards to pay for things, when someone who is obviously "different" pays with cash and slows down the pace of the crowd, which is being herded through a variety of retail-chutes. Apparently the herd-mentality in the U.S. has indeed taken over to such an extent that a) to pay cash is to be "independent," a stray from the herd, a rogue and b) to be "independent" in such a painfully basic way is to be disruptive, downright subversive, requiring the herd to become impatient with you, to threaten to ostracize you--to cast you out permanently because of the shameful behavior of . . . giving a clerk currency. The accompanying slogan is "Life takes Visa." This is a metaphysical statement. Reality now depends upon one's having an account at a large credit-card firm. Eric Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell, could not have written better cautionary satire. Indeed, the reality and language--the poetry--of the Consumocracy has far outstripped Orwell, who now seems a bit naive. It has also outstripped William Golding and Lord of the
Flies
. Pray you have your credit-card with you if you are stranded with a pack of retail-shoppers.

As you move forward and have it your way, know, then, that Life takes Visa. If Visa is absent, . . . . yikes. I think we may safely conclude that the Consumocracy is permanently established. It is Life. We'll be right back, after these messages.
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