The way we live has been changing from past to now. As a result, human tendency to consume products has been changed vigorously. That is, we are consuming some products even though do not want them actually. One such example is, in the essay "A Photograph is Not an Opinion or is it?" Susan Sontag says some information regarding consumerism i.e. about how it is affecting photography but the author did not explained about consumerism though. Fortunately, Kaplan's "The Gospel of Consumption" helped to understand this missing information from Sontag's text. Kaplan in his text gives some information regarding consumption, its affects, and some methods for controlling over consumption. As a result, now I am able to trace out the affect of the word consumerism in Sontag's text.
In Sontag's essay "A Photograph is Not an Opinion or is it?" Sontag says that, "Photography is in the service of the post-judgmental ethos gaining ascendancy in societies whose norms are drawn from the practices of consumerism"(229). First, when I read this I did not understood the relationship between the consumerism and post-judgmental ethos. After relating this text to Kaplan’s "The Gospel of Consumption" I was able to understand their relationship.
From the above quote Sontag mean that now a days photographing a person is mainly used for judging the person. She also mentions that many portraits of women featured [judged] their “beauty” and men portraits are almost featured [judged] by “character.” i.e. which reflects that photographs have become post-judgmental ethos. After in the same quote she says that we are promoting this post-judgmental ethos by practicing consumerism. Then how does this relate to consumerism and what are its affects?
Kaplan in his text gives a finer definition for consumerism which helped to understand the above quote by Sontag. He says that, “‘the gospel of consumption’- the notion that people could be convinced that however much they have, isn't enough" which means we are not at all satisfied for what we have (110). We consume a variety of resources and products today having moved beyond their basic needs to include luxury items and technological innovations to try to improve their efficiency. Resulting, luxuries had to be turned into necessities and entire cultural habits had to be transformed for this consumption. Such consumption beyond minimal and basic needs is necessarily a bad thing often. We are totally not satisfied for what we have, which intern causing over consumption.
This unsatisfactory feeling for what we have is resulting consuming again and again which we simply call as consumerism. The same phenomenon can be applied to Sontag text. She says that we are getting addicted to get photographed because we are not satisfied for what we have. For instance, a survey in 2005 by United Nations Development Program (UNDO) proves that cosmetic are the products which heavily consumed by the people. They estimated that people from United States and Europe are spending at least $80 millions for cosmetics and $120 millions for perfumes every year, which can ultimately show really adverse affect on people’s economy. So who are to be blamed for current situation?
Industrialists are the main reason for chaining this consumerism cycle. An evidence for this condition is explained in Kaplan's text. He mentioned that a person who is president of Committee on Recent Economic Changes saying that they believe that economically they have vast space for them: that are there new wants which will make customer dissatisfied. Industrialists are using this simple trick and running their business over decades. They are promoting their business through advertisements. One of such promotional activities is photographing and commercializing these photos by posters and advertisements. So that people get attracted towards their goods. A survey from United Nations says that almost every company is using 40% of their investments for promoting their goods with advertisements and posters, this again leading over consumption because we are spending a lot on unwanted things. Thus, over consumption is maintained in our society from Industrialists to consumers.
A solution for this state is mentioned Kaplan’s text. He says that we can break this over consumerism cycle by turning off machines when they have created what they need. By doing this we can save a lot because we will be satisfied for what we have and which can drag out us from consumerism. Thus by comparing these two texts, I understood the insight meaning of the word consumerism in Sontag's text.
Kaplan, Jeffery. “The Gospel of Consumption.” FIRST YEAR Composition Reader 2009-2010. Custom Publishing. United States of America, 2009. 109 - 116.
Sontag, Susan. “A Photograph Is Not an Opinion or Is It?” FIRST YEAR Composition Reader 2009-2010. Custom Publishing. United States of America, 2009. 221 – 229.
Last edited by krishnau; 10-May-2010 at 02:51.
I suspect people will be more inclined to do you the favour of commenting if you ASK - this is not a paid service, and most teachers expect a modicum of politeness.