Liberation or Convoluted Optimism?

Contrary to the more common criticism of mass culture and its homogenizing effects, more recent scholars have been leaning toward the liberating possibilities in consumption.

One such argument might run like this: in reading a magazine and its ads, articles, fiction, and images, a person gleans a certain satisfaction from what he or she sees. Advertisements in particular fuel this satisfaction because their audience already looks/acts/feels the way the magazine says a successful person should look, act, or feel. Thus, a person emotionally benefits from feelings of belonging to a larger community. In this way, the individual maintains sovereignty and the ability to be a discriminating decision-maker.
To be more specific, one argument involves the liberating potentials of make-up, especially in terms of the marketing of race in American business history. In a nutshell, make-up challenges the black/white binary on which so many cultural ideologies are based. While providing women entrance to a masculinized marketplace, make-up also situates race on a continuum.
There are numerous other arguments in this vein...taking into consideration the pleasures derived from entertainment, hobbies, and many more aspects of American culture.

Do these arguments merely argue within the parameters defined for them by consumer culture? Have they naturalized the advertisers' promotions of success and well-being through consumption? Or is there merit to their optimism?

Can You Guess Who These People Are?

Who are these people?

have been accused of spousal abuse

have been arrested for fraud

have been accused of writing bad checks

have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

have done time for assault

71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

have been arrested on drug-related charges

have been arrested for shoplifting

currently are defendants in lawsuits, and

have been arrested for drunk driving
in the last year

Can you guess which organization this is?

it's the 535 members of the United
States Congress.

Celebrate Something Different this Valentine's Day

Embrace flower workers

A flower is a dictionary engraved in a haiku –a candle light melting clouds in our living space. A flower is a delta of fresh water thoughts longing for the waves
of salted sunbeams that sneak in at morning –the scented waves that help us sail through the beauty of everyday life. Flowers are bridges of emotions, but also messengers conveniently misused. Embrace flowers with your hands, your tears, your smile, your pollen-driven sneeze, and your skin pinched by thorns. Embrace them, hold them, pet them and massage them after the long walk from the shop to the vase; from
the nursery to customs. Embrace your flowers; embrace the people that grew them in Kenya, Zimbabwe, India, Ecuador, Guatemala, the United States and Colombia, where I lived for more than a year.

Around eighty percent of the flowers grown in Colombia come to the United States. The industry provides jobs to more than 75,000 Colombians, mostly single mothers.
But what kinds of jobs?

Workers commonly face breathing problems because pesticides are sprayed in their presence on the fields without proper equipment. While those pesticides and fertilizers make most flowers spotless in our markets, the workers often end up with skin rashes. And they have to kneel constantly for planting and cutting, leading to back problems. The chemical exposure and the kneeling lead to a high miscarriage rate. During peaks seasons such as the pre-Valentine’s weeks, people work 14-18 hours a day. Many have no choice but to leave their children unattended, because the flower companies don’t provide child care. These women need the work, but does such job creation deserve to be called development?

Embrace your flowers and, as well, the people who grew them. Embrace the mothers who can’t be mothers even after Valentine’s Day because they need to keep working hard to send flowers for Mother’s Day.

Celebrate labor rights on February 14, celebrate Flower Workers’ Day! Send a Valentine’s card to your congress people and Dole, one of the US companies that has been involved in the Colombian flower industry, to demand worker rights and to stop the free trade agreement negotiations that will further these kinds of abuses without providing true development means.

For more info:

Aqua Teen Hunger Force!

I know this is old news, but after the bomb scare and arrests, the guys from the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force held a press conference, and it is hilarious... Check it out on youtube here: