Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Film 5 - Bullfrog Films - Affluenza

Question: soooo….how did we get this way?        


  1. This film is a really good way of showing how society is reacting against the materialism of nowadays. They show many samples of things done during the 90s to avoid consumerism. A really good idea was the campaign done on November 29, 1996: Buy Nothing Day. I personally think this was a great effort to get to the society and make us understand how much damage we are doing to ourselves and the planet by buying all this unnecessary things. The irony here comes when they are using all this promotional products to giveaway. I really do not know if they did it because they knew that was the only way to get to massive number of people; or if they did not realized that they were also contributing to this materialism and consumerism problem. Maybe in this particular case, the challenge would have also been how to get to people without wasting so much resource and generate a huge impact by using a wise advertising campaign.
    Very interesting the comment of “the good life became the goods life”, every season we see a change of trends in everything that is merchandise; they dictate most of the times the style of life we live or want to live. For a moment feels like goods are the only reason why we work or make money for. Our life has become empty of small and exiting things like enjoying a great conversation in person because you would do it from a phone or computer. There is being a dehumanizing process where we live around things instead of things around us. As credit cards ads would say “…priceless moments, for all the rest Visa MasterCard…” what is the real value of things?
    Another thing interesting that I found in this film is the company Nike organizing study groups that foment the culture of simplicity and ecological growing. Would this be as an answer to the society filling the social and environmental responsibility that like any company needs to give back? Most of their products are massively affecting the environment, not only in the production stage but to the final user and consumer.
    They idea of co-housing was interesting to me, living in a community sense. This will for sure cut the spending and use the money more wisely. I’m wondering if there is any study that shows the results of living under this condition.

  2. Before watching this film I had forgotten that “consumption” used to be the word that described Tuberculosis (TB)- a terrible DISEASE. “Consumption,” in the economic sense of the word, is still a deadly disease in American society today. Consumption has become embedded in our culture so deeply that our constant pursuit for “more” is not only separating us from our hard earned cash, but also from our families and sometimes, in extreme cases, our financial security as well; With all of these “symptoms” adding up to become the source of the slow death of our overall quality of life. Ironic isn’t it? How we could enjoy life so much more if we would slow down for a minute to enjoy what we have already, but can’t because we are so focused on and frustrated by our pursuit of the “ideal” lifestyle. We make our lives so miserable in the process of chasing after something we are “told” will make us much happier. In a nutshell, the film calls us to free ourselves from our STUFF and live more simply as part of the cure to our disease. Simple/Minimalistic living has been an aspiration of mine for many years now.
    Living a simi-nomadic lifestyle while in college has shown me that we middle class Americans just have way too much stuff. Tired of hauling my accumulation of excess belongings around, I vowed to purchase fewer things of higher quality that will last. I plan to make most of my major purchases an “investment.” Buying furnishings, etc. that will appreciate in value rather than depreciate. This “quality over quantity” lifestyle I have chosen for myself also informs my design work in that I will produce products and interiors that are designed/built to last using methods that enhance durability, lengthening the design’s life cycle, and using materials that are both sustainable and recyclable.

  3. This movie is addressing one of the most important subjects that related to our interaction with the environment, which is materialism and consumerism. At the beginning of the movie they talk about how our lives are empty even though we have filled them with numerous objects that were supposed to make us happier and more prosperous. We’ve got to the point that nothing can satisfy us, because we always compare ourselves with other people and we want to have everything that they have. This is referring to sociological aspect of consumerism, and the fact that we are very concerned about social justice.
    This is part of the culture, and the question is what makes culture? The children’s personality shapes at school, in the family, and also social media plays an important role in it. All of our lives are filled with commercial that urge people to buy more to spend more, and as we can see in the movies the main target of these commercials are children. So what can we expect?
    There are two quote in movie that addressing meaningful and deep facts about our society, “good life became goods’ life” and “everything I own, owns me”. These are disappointing statements, which are the consequences of our way of life. By bringing staff to our life and filling it with unnecessary objects, our attention is pulled out to other direction, we are losing our relationships, instant contacts, And family is not the center of the attention any more.
    Knowing and being aware of these facts should lead us to a solution to solve this problem or to make its affect less horrible. In this movie they mention to some solutions like: cohousing, voluntary simplicity, producing products that last longer, reuse and recycle product, and live better by spending less money. To summarize, we should change our habits and our tendencies toward consuming, we should look further and while living in the current, being aware that there is a tomorrow. This is the main concept of sustainable development.
    Thinking about my role and my responsibility as a designer, I came up with a paradox, how can I design a space without adding to this amount of products and how I can have the least impact on the environment.

  4. I should watch this film on a regular basis to remind me of what my values are, or should be. It is so easy to get caught up in the enjoyable aspects of excessive consumerism and to forget the consequences of buying things - for me personally and humanity as a whole. I agree with Claudia that when we indulge our interest in following trends “the good life becomes the goods life”. I often think that I am above that superficial way of thinking (I purchase my eyeglasses at a discount store that has last year's styles, many of my clothes are ten years old,...), but I know that I am just as interested in having current amenities in my home, stylish clothing, and a new, fast computer as anyone. The question for me is how do I stay focused on what is most important?
    I told my sons when they were younger that it is easier to make good choices in life if you spend time with people who have responsible value systems. This advice also works for us adults. The time in my life when I was the most sensitive to my impact on the earth was when I lived in Morganton, NC and was surrounded by people who were appalled that everyone didn't compost, recycle, use cloth diapers, breastfeed their infants, and keep the same car for ten years or more. When I moved to Winston-Salem the culture was completely different and I lost many of the good habits my friends in Morganton supported. Kelly's discussion of living a simpler life and purchasing fewer, but higher quality, possessions reminds me that there are people in my life now who have those responsible value systems – I just need to be aware of who they are and be sure that I spend time with them.
    But sometimes the challenge of knowing how to do the right thing seems insurmountable. A few weeks ago the vacuum cleaner I had owned for just a little more than a year stopped working. It was an Oreck and I took it to their local store to have it repaired instead of throwing it in the landfill and buying a shiny new one. The one year warranty had expired and it would cost almost the price of a new one to repair it. The new one had a two year warranty so it would be a wiser financial decision to replace it. As I mulled over this conundrum, read consumer reports, and watched for sales, my carpets acquired quite a blanket of dog and cat hair, and dust. The end result was to purchase the most highly rated vacuum with the hope that it would last longer than the rest, purchase a three-year warranty, and take the Oreck back to the store in hopes that they would refurbish it, but there was no guarantee.
    Majedeh is so right about how our culture affects our values and Madison Avenue works to shape our values at a very early age. Profit is the motivator for so much of our culture so we need to figure out how our economic infrastructure should be reformed in order to produce incentives for less consumption and more responsible use of resources. Substantial fees for anything that we contribute to landfills would be a good start, but the last few years have shown us that no one really understands the complexities of the world economy and it frightens me to think about making the significant changes needed to change our culture without accidentally causing a depression. In the meantime I struggle with tiny moral decisions of my own on a daily basis. Do I really need a vacuum cleaner?

  5. Affluenza? How did we get this way? It’s the American Dream of “keeping up with the Jones,” fueled by the bombardment of advertising of acceptable behavior. Isn’t it oddly striking that this is a post 1950’s phenomenon that coincides with the rise of television? Prior to this new power of mind control, your family and community cultivated your values.

    The build up of this consumer-based economy is dependent upon the continuous fueling of an unsustainable, unhealthy lifestyle pattern being reinforced. Who would want that vision for our country? Well, our leaders of course, as poetically stated by our President in response to the 9/11 attacks. A Washington Post opinion page written by Andrew J Bacevich on October 5, 2008, captured President George W. Bush’s sediment of “Nothing to see here”, just go about your business as he told America to go out shopping and visit Disney World.

    Then behind the curtain, President Bush and his merry band of neo-conservatism, (as if that is an oxymoron), reshaped American policy as he doled out tax cuts to provide the essential means to an end, our end! His political propaganda was ready to hammer nails in the coffin in order to swell any free thinkers.

    It’s hard to not get political when discussing major issues facing our nations. Our government was set up with great intentions to fight tyranny, when all the while it has been manipulated with freedom being hijacked by capitalism yelling, “you’re a commy if you don’t believe as we do”. Get in line all you sheep!

    I like to exercise my freedom by voting. No election is too small to state my opinion, and local opinions count the most. Recently UNCG had a student vote to decide which QEP Topic required instruction into our educational programs. I thought this was a very worthy vote, mainly because it recognized civic engagement. Civil engagement has been vastly overlooked in our education system, and for this reason, a chosen few have been able to get away with reshaping our American Dream. Educating our youth into civic duty, and in taking ownership of their community helps to restore the American Dream. With free thinkers, this can lead to a path in a sustainable recovery. Certainly, we cannot rely on our leaders to do the right thing.

  6. This movie showed that the current state of our society is a bad one. With out question consumerism is in a since what our population/society is based on. Advertisements, tv shows, movies etc. all tell us that we need and must have more. When we as a culture or a people take a step back and look at everything we have it is easy and clear to see that we have far more than what we need. Now the interesting part in all of this is that we (the entire world) do not look at the environmental impact in what we do. Now the definition of sustainability in our respect is "not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources. How can we as a society ever get to sustainability if we do not change our consumerism habits. Everything that we do affects everything else that happens. Sustainability is a notion that merely sounds good. Its not fully possible or attainable unless so many other things change. It makes you ask the questions are we really recycling are we really not depleting the natural resources? The vision of a world were everything is sustainable is not a realistic vision. The reason that its not realistic is because humans wont let it happen.