Friday, October 30, 2009

Course Discussion: The Story of Stuff

This is a blog post concerning the content of this flash-video for my participation of a course in English at Karlstad University.

While I watched the video I wrote down notes to keep thoughts that flew through my head. The little note looks like this:

corporation vs government - sweden vs US
burning itself up?
how to change this?
idealistic - is it possible?

And this will be my index.

1. Corporation vs government.
The thought came up because a couple of friends talked about it. In the US, the perceived image is that the government is your friend, and the large corporations are your enemies. In Sweden, at least this is my opinion, it's the other way around. We're quick to blame the government for things, and if large corporations get critizised it's usually the government-involved ones like SJ or Posten or one bank or another. I'm not convinced either is my friend, really, more like I'm Andorra and they're France and Spain.
Does this have some connection to the fact that many large corporations try out new trends in Sweden first, because Swedes are somehow very "fashion sensitive"? Det lilla landet lagom wants to fit in everywhere, which means the propaganda about shoes and computers really hits the right spot.

2. Consumers.
The video says "our main role in society these days is to be consumers". Is our value judged not from what we produce but what we consume? Transferred to the Arts, this would mean, it doesn't matter if you paint well as long as you have good taste in paintings. And wouldn't you say that in some ways this is true? That a lot of people live according to this? "Good taste". Such bullshit, just like fashion.

3. Burning itself up.
The dude who said "let's consume our heads off because it's good for the economy" apparantly never noticed as a child in the sandbox that if you keep digging the sand away and dump it on your mom's favorite flowers, it will eventually run out, and so will the fun.

4. How to change this.
I wonder how much time and money and effort has been put down to get us where we are now? How much have the big corporations showered us in propaganda and "information"? Can we really turn it around without an opposite force of equal measure? Yes, I guess. With the right angle of application we can chance the course, and with a few smart wall-bounces we might turn it around. But the thought of it is overwhelming. Like the hobbits must have felt looking out over a sea of orcs. Or like the swedish hockey team watching russia play back in the day.

5. Idealistic.
Is it then possible to create a perfect cycle? I don't think nature does perfect cycles, it does cycles but not perfect ones. Things change, things end, things die and break and are lost. Our planet isn't a closed system, nothing is a closed system. But, at the risk of sounding cliché, I don't think that the fact that we'll never get it perfect is an excuse for not trying to make it better.

Final Reflections
It must be all the propaganda I've been force-fed, but this type of environmental/humanitarian/sensible reasoning always sound somewhat... wussy. Which is strange, considering I've grown up with the very particular dialogues of superhero comics. It takes all my strength to take it in and not brush it off as I did religion before, and tend to do feminism now.
I guess the inner cave animal screams in protest at the mere thought of having to give up 42" plasma TV so that starved orphans can have some extra rice a few times a week. And it's possibly the existance of that animal that makes all this so damned hard. If only it could realize that we should just start at recycling the boxes with microwave food in, and work from there, maybe it would see that it's not the end of the world.


Rik said...

I disagree with your view on Sweden-US when it comes to trusting the government. I think Sweden trusts its government to the point of naivité. The US is quick to call the government fascistic just for intervening (just look at Obama's health care plan, and all the people calling him a Nazi).

Put simply, when the govt. in Sweden comes up with a "Let's vaccinate everyone!" plan - as with the swine flu now - people feel safe and taken care of. Americans in a similar situation a while back started protesting even the idea of offering free vaccines to people.

Yeonni said...

I realize that I mixed things up when I wrote this, and Rik is right. Actually, when I think about the vaccine, I have no hard feelings toward the government for handing it out, but I'm really suspicious of the medical companies who made it. So yes. I'm not editing the post though.

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Danne said...

In point three you point out the hole problem of our world today! At first we in the rich western world dug in our own sandbox until we reached the bottom of it. Then we changed course and began to dig in the unexploited parts of the world. Now as these sandboxes also soon seem to be empty, where will we move our digging?

As long as companies in the world keeps paying lobbyists to propagate for just their product, even if it´s enviromental unfreindly, a change seem far away...

Best regards

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Christoffer Lynghed said...

Some thoughts regarding the fifth headline. Maybe there are no perfect cycles in nature as you say, I don’t know actually. But I do know that ever since the human race entered the scene those cycles have been interfered with and that overconsumption certainly has something to do with this. Hopefully we can restore some of those cycles and make the planet earth a better place to live in.