Forget About the Price Tag

This week in my Pop Culture class, we watched a movie called “The Story of Stuff.” In it, the narrator talks about how stuff is made, its impact on the environment, how consumerism started, and how consumerism effects the cycle of stuff. Around 11:50, she explains how, after WWII, the government and corporations were trying to figure out how to ramp up the economy. An economist named Victor Lebow came up with a plan for how to make this happen. She quotes him as saying “Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life. That we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.” This is why we feel so bad when we watch commercials. The media, government, and corporations are trying to make us feel as if we aren’t good enough, healthy enough, pretty enough, all in the name of a productive economy. This video made me think a lot about how I spend my money and how to help his cycle. To be honest, I haven’t come up with the solution, but later that day I got the song “Price Tag” stuck in my head and I found it very relevant to what we had been talking about in class that morning.

When I read the lyrics,  I found some key phrases that I thought really related to what we were discussing in both my Pop Culture class and my Video Web Apps class:

  • You got your shades on your eyes and your heels so high/That you can’t even have a good time

A lot of people are busy worrying so much about having the “right” clothes and appearance, but they end up obsessing over it so much that it makes them miserable. They work just to get paid so that they can buy more, but in reality, this will always leave them feeling empty.

  • Why is everybody so obsessed?/Money can’t buy us happiness

Commercials have us always yearning for the next thing to make our teeth whiter, our waists thinner, and our face cleaner in order to achieve satisfaction.  Buying these things will never get us happiness though. We will always strive for perfection that we can never achieve.

  • We’ll pay them with love tonight

This line, in my opinion, is the most important. If we focus more on trading love and compassion rather than cash and goods, we can make the world a much better place for others and we ourselves will feel better. If, out of compassion for other countries we spent our money in aiding foreign nations rather than getting the next designer bag, we can both help another person get into a better position, and we can feel better about ourselves for making a difference. Money and material goods will never help us achieve happiness. We can’t reach spiritual and ego satisfaction through consuming, only by creating, loving, and sharing.


-b. hench