I admit to being a member of this “cult” that Kalle Lasn speaks of, however, I have a question for him. How can one escape the obsession of name brands and shopping? I understand that some take it to the obsessive level and barely think for themselves, but some things people need. What about when someone just wants to buy a reliable dishwasher? Does this mean one is in the cult, because instead of washing and drying dishes on his or her own, this person would rather employ a machine to do it? And then what about dishes? People don’t need to eat off of ceramic or china plates, or even plastic plates for that matter. Who needs electricity or plumbing? People have survived without it in the past. I realize that this is different from the constant urge to keep up appearances and wear the latest articles of clothing by the latest designers, but this is our culture.
As much as I don’t want to admit to it, however, Lasn is completely right in his description of this cult. Despite this though, I disagree with his idea that people didn’t consciously choose the roles and behavior patterns they were recruited into. I think people know exactly what they’re doing. It’s not as if everyone sits in front of the T.V. or opens up a trashy tabloid and becomes suddenly brainwashed with images. There’s an effort in our society to be members of this cult because people want to feel that they belong to something and share a common interest with others. There’s awareness about being sucked into this cult that no one admits to but everyone is still apart of it.
I’m not sure about Lasn’s answer “Not really” to his question of “Are we happy?” For those who pride their entire lives on keeping up with this cult, I can understand how despite their constant shopping sprees and obsessions with the newest items, they are never really satisfied. Their goal in life is to keep acquiring whatever is being projected out of sweatshops and factories across the world, however, this cycle never really has an end. For the rest of the human race, Lasn depicts us as if we were all robots obeying orders. His use of the second person gives the piece a more personal tone that can be easily related to. Most works that use “you” go down an amusing and entertaining direction, but with “The Cult You’re In” Lasn excludes himself from the cult and takes on a judgmental tone. He makes a good argument but by excluding himself and offending his audience, how can he hope to gain the respect from his readers?
Furthermore, to say that our consumerism overrides our family ties is pushing it. Yes, it’s a race trying to keep up with what’s fashionable, but in the end, we can go back to our friends and family. Despite our sudden craving for what’s up on the billboards or in a magazine, there’s more to life than that. I’m not denying that everyone is a consumer-I think that’s a vital part of every human life and our economy, but I do think there’s more to people than just the urge to spend money.
What seems like a lot of bashing of Lasn by me is also balanced with the truth in his argument. What our society has in common is the dream of “wealth, power, fame, plenty of sex, and exciting recreational opportunities.” But honestly, who doesn’t want a few of these things? It’s absolutely normal to value them, because even though they’re out of reach, who doesn’t have fun imagining what life would be like with them? Lasn speaks as if being part of a cult is such a negative thing…who is he to say that? If most people are happy, what’s the harm?