Consumerism refers to the practice of consuming or a typical state of mind in a free market context and by consumerism, we are talking about a concern, even an obsession with owning and consuming material things.
I have studied a number of texts including two of Bruce Dawe‘s poems, namely "Enter Without so Much as Knocking" and "Breakthrough". I have studied and analysed a song from Jennifer Lopez, entitled "Love Don’t Cost a Thing" and a cartoon from Michael Leunig.
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These texts have stimulated my thinking and to be more critical of consumerism. Bruce Dawe focuses his satirical voice on the consumer culture, in the poems I have studied. Jennifer Lopez’s song raises issues of relationship breakdown due to the misleading perceptive of money-motivated love. Furthermore, Michael Leunig’s cartoon explains why TV is such a dominant force in the consumer world.
In the poem Enter Without so Much as Knocking, Bruce Dawe is suggesting that the "modern society" is false and superficial. He makes us focus and consider the corruption behind the whole concept of consumerism. In the poem, the child blinked into birth and consumerism surrounded him. From his teenage years to his dying days, consumerism surrounded him. Bruce Dawe tries to express his negative view with his satirical tone. He uses stereotypes by describing the mother as an Economy-sized and using an Australian suit to describe the father. He effectively uses a number of imagery techniques i.e. "Human Life as a Game show" and "Family as an advertised product". In general, Bruce Dawe tries to portray that people are too ashamed to face the fact that they have surrendered to a society corrupted by consumerism and full of disguises.
Another masterpiece from Dawe is the poem "Breakthrough". As the preamble tells us, it is about a little girl reported to have died happily singing an advertised commercial. Bruce Dawe is very critical of consumerism in this poem. He is not admiring it at all and he shows this by his ironic tone. He suggests that advertising has now extended its influence and even goes beyond death. Dawe feels that this girl is a link between heaven and the "mortal round" and that she is bringing advertising to heaven. Reading his irony properly made me discover that to him, advertising seems to be a cosmic thing but still is just a sham. He juxtaposed the beauty of advertising with the cruel human descriptions of a dying girl. (The frail cup crumples like a paper cup). He effectively uses the dying girl to create an image of advertising being as important in heaven as it is on Earth. This technique makes us think that advertising is a religious experience.
Jennifer Lopez, with her affectionate voice, effectively inspired me to look at consumerism at a different angle. Her song, "My Love Don’t Cost a Thing", deals with issues during relationships caused by consumerism. It is a very emotional song as JLO tries to decry her lover’s attitude towards their relationship. This heart rending song is accompanied by JLo’s natural affectionate voice making this song a very effective text to be judgmental of consumerism. The song also tries to produce a feeling of sorrow or pity for someone. Besides being compassionate, it is also evocative in which JLo tries to call up memories, feelings or thoughts. JLo uses repetition for emphasis. She repeats "even if you were broke, my love don’t cost a thing" because she wants to make sure that the message is being delivered. To tell us that she would sacrifice all those material things for the sake of spending more time with her lover. JLo’s attitude in this song is "Pure love replaces material things".
This song mainly discusses materialism and how it can severely affect a relationship. Some of the lines from the song that discusses consumerism include "Give me all the things that money can’t buy" and "You think the money that you make can substitute the time you take".
Lastly, a cartoon from Michael Leunig that I have studied makes me think, at a greater extent, the power of consumerism. It has made me realize how much it has corrupted our minds. One of the most influential consumer world products, the television, is being discussed in this cartoon. The cartoon shows a guy standing on top of a television and facing the parents of the children, who are sitting behind him. It is an anti-consumerism text and it explains why TV is such a dominant force in the consumer world. Michael Leunig uses a technique called juxtaposition. He placed the parents on the left side and the children on the other. This enables us to compare and contrast these two types of characters. It’s the simplistic look of the cartoon that makes it very detailed. He simply focuses on the facial expression or stance of the character. The look on the audiences faces in the cartoon indicates how a material thing such as a TV can manipulate our mind and make us pay attention and take an advice, a message or information. The guy standing on the TV represents the power of consumerism. And again we would notice his facial expression as well as his stance… Michael Leunig makes him look superior by putting him on top of the TV. Like any other cartoon, Michael Leunig’s approach is implying by suggesting something without actually stating it in the cartoon.
These four texts use different language techniques, to make sure that the readers are on the receiving end of the message. From reading these texts, I have become more critical of consumerism, making me realize that consumerism has its own deficiencies. There are many negative sides that weigh up against the benefits we extract from consumerism. Analysing the texts being studied made me more aware and learned that the composers use such techniques to strengthen their viewpoint of consumerism. Such techniques, including juxtaposition, emotive language and irony, have adequately supplied more emphasis on ideas being expressed in each of the texts.
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