Conspicuous Consumption

Happiness is an Unopened Box

Happiness is an Unopened Box

The New York Times, 2018, 4:14… On the internet, we can vicariously consume more stuff than we could ever actually buy, touch, or even see in our lifetimes. Are these videos eliminating a desire, or creating one? From Internetting with Amanda Hess.

McMansions & The American Dream

McMansions & The American Dream

Washington Post, 5:26... There’s a certain type of house that people love to hate. They're called "McMansions," and architecture critic Kate Wagner has dedicated her website, McMansion Hell, to explaining why these houses rub people the wrong way.

Countertops and Conspicuous Consumption

"How granite countertops took over American kitchens" -- Vox, 2017, 6:16 -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXyHRnDNH64

Expensive granite countertops are examined as a status symbol. In my apartment the countertops are cheap white laminate. While I don't necessarily care about them being low quality, whoever decided that white is a good color for countertops obviously never used their kitchen. I shouldn't have to deep bleach my counters after every little spill... Just sayin... 

Aspirational Lifestyles

How TV Ruined Your Life: Aspiration (Episode 3) -- BBC, 2011, 29:19 -- https://youtu.be/tNGK9ni4aSY

It's a shame Americans don't know about Charlie Brooker aside from his Black Mirror series on Netflix. But this sociological critique of aspirational imagery in the media is brilliant, hilarious, and is certainly understandable to an American audience. This episode brings up concepts such as social class, status symbols, conspicuous consumption, and focuses on how the false consciousness a la media creates misery in our lives. Television socializes us to become obsessed with the perverted rat race of opulence, celebrity, and unrealistic standards of beauty. We now aspire to a way of life manufactured by the media and have seemingly forgotten how fabricated such an ideal is. 

China's Rich Girls

China's Rich Girls (101 East) -- Al Jazeera, 2017, 25:40 -- https://youtu.be/MFJBgsr939c

A video detailing the extravagant lives of wealthy young Chinese women living in Canada. The main theme here is the conspicuous consumption of status symbols made possible by being born into a family of high socioeconomic status. This can also be seen through a dramaturgical perspective as staging behavior is rather prominent here, especially surrounding their image online and on television. 

Status Symbols in Pop Culture

Why Rappers Love Grey Poupon -- Vox, 2016, 10:04 -- https://youtu.be/jOgPk5T1xi0

An example of how the social class system and status symbols can be found in pop culture.

Pro-Tips: (1) Show your class the original Grey Poupon commercial before this video; (2) Buy a jar of Grey Poupon and some popsicle sticks (or small spoons) so your students can taste the opulence.