Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blog #2

Culture as a Commodity

Amy Lee

         I was doing pretty well during the first half of the week of the challenge. In fact, I wasn't even thinking about it too much. I only focused on purchasing groceries because I've been trying to be more active and aware of my diet after midterms. I started going to the gym and taekwondo practice more. These activities didn't remind of of shopping for material things.

            My sleeping schedule has also been unstable so whenever I have free time, I try to catch up on sleep. This, combined with me wanting to save money, prevented me from buying unnecessary things like clothing. However, I've developed a new bad habit- online shopping, more like, online window shopping. I have to confess, this challenge was a tad more difficult than I expected. It's testing my will power. I usually don't shop for things other than groceries when I'm in Davis because there's only so many clothing stores here. However, I went home for the weekend for a concert and that's when I failed. I committed two violations this week.

          First violation- online shopping. As usual, I was browsing through facebook during my history class, and I saw that a thermos I've always wanted...was 70% off. It was a thermos made with DSLR lenses.  After I saw $14, tunnel vision kicked in. All my reasoning went out the window, I tuned out the professor's voice and next thing I know, my card was in my hand. I didn't even think of the Be Green challenge or the fact that I have a perfectly functioning thermos already. The only thing I was focusing on was what a great deal I was getting.

            Second violation- went to Forever21. I went back to San Francisco for a concert. I've been trying to plan out my outfit for the past week to make sure that I wont worry about it later. I had one ready. I thought I was all set. But once I got home, I started spending time with my sister and we went out to eat, then we went to buy school supplies. And then I started thinking about how I NEEDED a pair of waist high shorts because I didn't have one. I admit, I was rationalizing a violation. I bought a pair that was on sale...and I also bought two tops and a dress. I am 100% I don't need a new dress and I know I barely wear my old tops. After returning to Davis, I realized how impulsive I was and decided to return all my still tagged items.

             For this blog, I am going to focus on culture as a commodity and how it can be engrained in our consumer mindset. I'm not just talking about ethnic culture, I'm also talking about music and art culture. As many of you know, DSLR cameras have gotten popular over the years. I don't even own a camera but I was so excited to buy a thermos that represented it. As if I can take a photo with a thermos, a $14 DSLR that keeps my coffee warm. Ideas like photography is romanticized and now it doesn't just show through owning camera or being a photographer. Photography culture is also present in stationaries such as , and printed on tshirts. Concerts, music, raves, more specifically edm culture, also has step up a new standard on what is "fashion appropriate" in those environments. Colorful beaded bracelets and  lingerie are normal. Before raves, the last time I ever wore a beaded bracelet was in elementary school.

         In Ava L. McCall's "Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Art." The significance of Hmong culture is represented through their prints. Not only do the textiles hold a visual purpose, but it also tells a story. Different pieces can represent a different sub group. Today, you can see a Hmong print on a Forever21 shirt and have no idea that its Hmong. Fashion is always changing, and it's changing faster than ever. Another example of how culture has become 
more of a commodity is the annual Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco. Every year, more and more chain companies and their floats are present: McDonalds, Toyota, and multiple banks. To them,
 this cultural celebration is just another chance to advertise. 
         I know that what I purchased this week won't stay with me for long because I have no sentiments towards them. They are simply trends. America thrives on consumerism. In a discussion in my ASA100, we talked about how the US is the only country that makes their people pay for their university education. "Citizenship is awarded to those who pay taxes, consume, and are self sufficient" (Carlson).

Inside Source: Mccall, Ava L. "More than a Pretty Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Art." Theory & Research in Social Education 25.2 (1997): 137-67. Print.

Outside Source: StAtistics Bureau of Japan. "How Other Countries Manage Paying for College."International Business Times - International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex, Commodities. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

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