AMS FINAL - Jeff Mylet American Studies 150 Professor Smith...

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Jeff Mylet American Studies 150 Professor Smith 12/10/2006 American Consumption For what seems like countless years, certain stereotypes and identities have gone hand-in-hand with gender. For a simple example, when a baby is born, a boy is usually given something blue by the hospital staff, while a girl is given something pink. No one ever consults the babies when they are born which color they might prefer. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways society tells us what we should like or wear; boys like blue, girls like pink, end of story. This gender identification has been happening for a myriad amount of years. Society, media, and corporate America all collectively play a part in this gender construction. Corporate America tells us how we should dress, what specifically we should look like as men and women, what we need to have in our homes, what to drive, etc. Corporations tell us how to do this through constant advertising in all varieties of the media; television, internet, radio, magazines, billboards, etc. These industries jointly tell us how we need to live in order to define ourselves. These companies do all our thinking for us and they decide what is “in” right now and what isn’t. If we as individuals want to fit in with the mainstream trends, we have no choice but to change our styles to whatever they say, whenever they decide. Throughout the duration of this semester, our class has observed many examples of American mass consumption, past and present. Through many quotations taken from the
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film Fight Club , as well as citing illustrated examples and passages from the Carolyn Kitch book The Girl on the Magazine Cover , along with other references, I will argue how the media’s gender construction of our country has led to this mass consumption by men in the United States. “I’d flip through catalogs and wonder: What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” This quotation by Edward Norton in the film Fight Club gives a reference to the notion of corporate American telling us what we need to own to fit in. In this scene, Norton’s character (whose actual name is never revealed in the film, but keeps referring to himself in the sense of I am Jack’s… ) is narrating how he has “become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct.” The director gives us a shot of the evolution of Norton’s character’s apartment. We see it almost bare at first, but as he keeps talking, it fills with more and more…stuff. Norton’s character in Fight Club is far from what anyone would call a stable person. He is suffering from insomnia, and every time he is on a plane he wishes it would crash to the ground, or collide with another plane mid-air. However, as unsound as his character’s life is, he still feels he needs to do his part to measure up to the standards of living, set by corporate America, and almost enjoys the quest. His mission isn’t exactly clear, but it is pretty safe to say that it has a lot to do with owning everything
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course THTR 201 taught by Professor Placke during the Spring '08 term at Lafayette.

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AMS FINAL - Jeff Mylet American Studies 150 Professor Smith...

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