Consumer Culture Essay

1270 words - 5 pages

Seeing families camping outside Wal-Mart is not a shocking scene on thanksgiving night as they wait for the after thanksgiving sale doors to open. Shown on the documentary Buy Nothing Day directed by Palli Grimsson, hundreds or thousands of people line up before sunrise in order to a bargain at the sale is the American consumer culture, also a image of class in America. American consumer culture and class exists in America can be proven from Gregory Mantsios's "Class in America (2000)" where four myths of class and equality is demonstrated through lifestyles of different class demonstrating the reality of class in America. In Buy Nothing Day shoppers were lured from sales and advertisements and overflow their trolley, depicting lifestyles and the American consumer culture. They support Mantsios's myths that America is classless and everyone has equal chance to succeed, and showing realities of the shrinking middle class, poor people and how class standing effects survival.

Class can be noticed through what and when people buy goods, therefore it is incorrect to say that America is a classless society. It is often neglected that there are poor people, average people, and rich people because people in the same class live together, shop together, therefore the idea of class existing is often ignored. To prove that we do not live in a classless society, Mantsios states that "the contrast between rich and poor is sharp, and with nearly one third of the American population living at one extreme or the other" (Mantsios 334) clearly shows class. To show these extremes, Buy Nothing Day depicts one where hundreds and hundreds of people wait for Wal-Mart to open on the day after thanksgiving. These people in line will only see people who have similar background or possibly people from the same neighborhood and workplace. They are the ones who wait for the sale days to buy compared to others who can afford to shop at original prices. This shows the difference between classes and also reveals how everyone is not equal.

Success is everyone's dream and goal, but the chance to achieve it not equal in everyone. As there is class in America, it is agreeable that rich people have obviously succeeded in some way. However, if a lower class person wanted to become rich, the chances are low. No matter how hard they work or how strong they are, it is not necessarily enough. People are often judged on their appearance and background, therefore "success for the offspring of the wealthy" (Mantsios 343) is much more likely. Wealthy offspring's already have a head start; their parents can afford the best while they grow up. Where as, less rich children can not get the best, sometimes barely enough to do well, showing inequality. Through the documentary, inequality in success can be seen after the big sale, Wal-Mart earned $1.43 billion nation wide. Directors and people who own Wal-Mart benefited greatly from this sale. However, the workers, lifting and stacking,...

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