Nicholas Wattie – Hauling/Unboxing

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Whilst I was somewhat aware of the current trend of hauling/unboxing and its prevalence throughout the landscape of YouTube and other video sharing sites, the ideology behind hauling has never really been present to until Friday;s class. Going along with Marx’s ideas of commodity fetishism and the effects on the social relations of labour one interesting aspect of hauling is its lack of acknowledgement for the use value of the items they buy. By that which I mean these objects that people have acquired are more for their materialistic value than their use value. Looking at a few hauling videos, certain commentators put more emphasis into the aesthetic of the good then the use of the good. For instance, the hauling of a toque, the commentator spends the majority of the time discussing the beauty and simplicity of said toque rather than talking about its ability to warm said purchaser’s head, or that the company who makes it has good labour practices with their workers making good wages and well treated. All these seemingly important aspects of what we do with our money seems lost in today’s hauls, rather pushing the importance of beauty and its aesthetic value.

While clearly when discussing hauls, aesthetic value is obviously an important aspect of what makes people want to buy clothes and accessories, the unboxing of technology is another main area where commodity fetishism comes into play. While hauling may be influenced somewhat by commodity fetishism, unboxing would be the pinnacle of what this term means in today’s world. One drastic example of unboxing putting material value over use value is the unboxing of computer parts, specifically video cards. Commentators will drone on and on about the many number of extra fans and graphic designs and other peripheral aspects that offer nothing to the person watching. These specifics are harped on for several minutes even though they are never really seen as they are hidden away in a computer case. Not only that, but the whole point of buying a video card is to see how it performs graphically on a computer screen, yet this is not even shown. The most crucial aspect of video card purchasing is its actual performance, but the commentators only talk about its superficial qualities. Commodity fetishism is at its worst in my opinion, where the importance levied by the commentator on unboxing videos focus on superfluous aspects rather than where the true value is held, and that is in the use value. 

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