Fiske Assignment – Lewis Wood

Posted: February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Shopping malls are cathedrals of consumption” Fiske compares our consumerist behavior with a very suitable metaphor of consumerism as a religion. he goes onto say “commodities become the icons of worship and the rituals of exchanging money for goods become a secular equivalent of holy communion” This excerpt describes my experience in the mall, there seems to be such a need to gain status or favor with the “gods” of consumerism not through prayer, but through purchase. The priests of these cathedrals appear in the form of advertisements guiding the sheep to the flock, like the faithful to a congregation. Because we are constantly surrounded by advertisements preaching about what we need to buy, therefore the act of going to a mall enables the consumer to be a “good” consumer and make purchases, much like a “good” Christian would try to live by God’s word, and thus pray and live by the commandments god has created (I chose Christianity because of the use of a cathedral in the metaphor, as well as personal experience,however i am confident it applies to other religions). When you go to a mall, advertisements much like priests try to prevent you from sinning, however a sin in the scripture of consumerism would be to miss out on a huge sale, thus preventing you from being a good consumer. Moreover, nothing has controlled our lives or affected our actions more than consumerism, with the exception of religion. 

On my trip to the mall I had no real intention of buying anything, mostly due to my lack of funds so i went for the assignment with a friend. I rarely buy anything with the exception of certain electronic appliances and if some of my clothes no longer fit or are ripped and the infamous black hole for money – fast food. Although I would not consider myself a good consumer, if we are looking at this through a religious perspective, but I cannot deny my involvement in the religion all together. For example when the video game “Skyrim” came out I, as embarrassing as this is, marked the release date on my calender and much like many of my friends I waited anxiously for the day to come. It almost felt like Christmas day when it finally came out. When I got it I was completely obsessed for at least month and I would compare the level of dedication to that of a devout worshiper. Because I had pre-ordered it i knew i wouldn’t need to wait in line however there were many who lined up for hours to get their copy. There is no real excuse you can give to this sort of behavior, i obviously believed that having this game would improve my life, and i was told over and over that it would be the greatest game ever made. Much like the messages of the bible are read and followed by the devout, advertisements and reviews tell consumers what behavior is right and what is wrong, and it all comes down from a seemingly higher power. We cannot resist these products because we are told that they will improve our lives, that they are “must haves” and that you would be “missing out” not to buy it. Much like a religion where if you are required to pray regularly and to abscond from sin. In a consumerist religion we are measured based on how much we own, we are demanded to consume, or be left behind.

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