Saturday, March 10, 2012

Capitalism Run Amok

I've been having a little trouble sleeping nights lately (and no, it's not the result of a guilty conscience ... unfortunately).  While much of the TV on late at night makes pretty bad look pretty good if you don't have cable, some of the 'Commercials for Insomniacs' are actually quite amusing.  I am learning more a about American popular culture from these examples of Capitalism than I do from watching the news.

Did you know that that there are elastic waistbands that women can buy to get the layered look without the layers?  While no one has explained to me why women want to look layered without being layered, I was able to grasp that one of the reasons for the purchase of this extra 12" waist band was so that when a woman bent over she didn't expose her waist, or worse yet, the exterior of her posterior.  While I can certainly see the desirability of limiting the display of 'Plumber's Syndrome", I was nevertheless struck that the same could be accomplished (without spending the $20, plus shipping and handling) by not purchasing shirts cut so high and tight they rode up and pants so low-cut and tight that they rode down.  (This is undoubtedly why I am neither an expert on fashion, nor a rich inventor/entrepreneur.)

Did you likewise know that you can buy devices that make slicing, dicing,and chopping far easier than it would be with an ordinary knife?  (Of course you did, since such devices, in one form or another, have been around for years.)  I can't really poke too much fun at this one, as I found myself purchasing one of these technological wonders many years ago in order to be able to fragment vegetables more efficiently ... and create Julienne fries 'in a snap'.  (The fact that I had never heard of Julienne fries before buying this device, and therefore didn't even know if I wanted them, seemed inconsequential at the time.)  While I must admit that the device did in fact slice potatoes, carrots,and onions admirably, and far faster than I could do in manually with a knife (even one of those fancy new knives that slice empty cans of refried beans before creating wafer thin tomato slices), I was still somewhat dubious of the processOf course after you added in time required for assembly, tear down, and cleaning; neither method actually proved faster than the other.  

Over succeeding years, I found that by the time I dragged the damn thing out, figured out how to reassemble it, found the proper cutting blades, and finally began to cut, I had lost interest in the vegetables requiring dis-assembly (and sometimes the will to live); so I parted with it through donation to a charitable organization (tax-deductible recycling).  I still have one of those 'slap choppers' collecting dust in the back of a cabinet, but seldom use it.  It likewise did nothing to truly expedite the vegetable dissection process and the memories of the sore hand that I got using it further remind me of why it too should be recycled.

But these forays into personal consumerism and rampant capitalism are educational as well.  I have recently learned that the only way that I'm going to get eight golf balls or a bowling ball out of my carpeting is to buy a $500 vacuum cleaner.  This model of modern carpet cleanliness is capable of maneuvering around furniture that I don't own, getting under tables that I don't posses, and is capable of vacuuming around corners by turning on a dime.  Of course, I like to vacuum in straight lines so I get those 'clean lines' in the finished carpet, and if the power it contains is half of what it brags about, I suspect that it would suck the dime up long before turning on it. I'm also told that it's very easy to carry up and down stairs, but since I live in a one-bedroom apartment, this ability seems of little practical benefit.

Then again, if the vacuum cleaner didn't make me a big enough sucker (and I suspect it would), I could always add to the volume of air movement in my residence by buying one of those massive air cleaners.  According to the nice lady on the infomercial, they exchange the air in a room at least three times an hour (though no one ever seems to explain what they're exchanging it with).  In fact, these devices confuse me.  While I'm trying to live a bit 'greener', dedicating myself in small ways to cleaner air, I can't help but wonder if such a unit wouldn't exchange the air before I had done my efficient best to use it.  Additionally, I'm not sure of the trade off between the pollution generated in order to power the unit with electricity vs the promise of cleaning the air with it is a fair exchange.  I fear I will not be able to reach a logical conclusion to this dilemma until presented with properly documented fact one way or the other.

As for women's undergarments, let me only say that I had no idea that so much scientific development was going into them; or that women could talk about them for hours on end in spite of the fact that they used to be called 'unmentionables'.  It seems that women are willing to buy articles of clothing that manipulate their bodies in ways that would surely get the average man arrested, even if he was married to the one in question.  The parts that aren't being pushed up are being pushed in.  Whatever real or imagined body parts or body faults that a woman has, according the show's hosts, should be quickly surrounded by elasticized material, manipulated, and re-displayed through methods that have already been outlawed as torture by the United Nations.  

And while corsets seem to have for the most part been done away with (except decoratively of course), most of the functionality of women's undergarments seems to have been taken over by the scientists that created the Ace Bandage, and with much the same material.  Perhaps most intriguing in this meat manipulation process (sorry ladies, but that's what it is) is that it's done in a mostly misguided attempt to gain the ability to wear styles of clothing that no one, let alone supposedly mature women, should wear.  While I have always been fascinated with women, like the making of sausages and laws; I suspect that this is a process probably better not viewed too closely, too often, and certainly not on television late at night.

(I am coming to believe that like many other areas of scientific study, women's underwear falls into two schools of thought.  The 'Victoria's Secret'  school of undergarment design holds that "less is more", and charges more for the less that they provide.  The 'Ace Bandage' school on the other hand, believes that "covering more showing less" is the answer, and charges far less than the Victoria's school for the more making it appear that there is in fact less being covered.  It's not a perfect theory, but it's a working one that works for me.)

I may be an unreconstructed capitalist, but some of this scares even me.  The fact that there are multiple channels dedicated to consumerism on such a scale is bad.  The fact that in these tough economic times, there appears to be a great many people with a day pass on the crazy train with 'disposable' income to buy this carnival crap is worse, and may in fact prove that Capitalism has finally run off the rails.  I'm not sure whether to give the process a standing ovation, or pull the covers over my head so I don't have to watch any more.

But if you'll excuse me now, I need to get back to the the show I was watching.  The electronics hour starts in 15 minutes and I have my eye on a deal on a 73" HD, 3D, surround sound TV that if I pull the trigger on it, they probably won't be able to get through my front door anyway.

1 comment:

Roland Hansen said...

In the course of considering discourse in the form of a comment, I reconsidered and have censored myself.