Bring Down the Rich… and More

UPC in TrashI’ve become kind of taken with a magazine called AdBusters.  Magazine subscriptions don’t seem worthwhile to me, but I pillage the library’s stock frequently.

If you’ve never flipped through an issue, let me describe it this way: I’m not sure I’d let my kids read it, but I’d definitely talk about its content with them.  Add to that the astounding creativity of the editors (they routinely spoof corporate ads), and I’m intrigued.

In a recent stack of back issues, here’s a few things I found:

  • An article entitled “The Rich Stand Accused“, in which the memorable line for me was, “We must bring down the rich rather than bring up the poor.”  Cue the discussion on socially responsible consumption.
  • A quote: “One strange secret that I learned is that a great deal of human interaction is rather bad acting.”  Cue the discussion on what real and genuine mean, and how we get there together.
  • An “advertisement”: It depicts a 50-ish couple dressed to the nines and decked with sunglasses and a few gawdy pieces of jewelry, looking at a cell phone.  Below it is a text titled “The All-Consuming Self”.  Here’s what follows:
    • “Never before have our emerging environmental crises been laid out so clearly before us.  Rather than shouting from the fringes, respected economists, scientists, and politicians are sounding the warnings in high-profile journals and the halls of government–warning that our oceans are dying, that the ice shelves are melting and that we are setting ourselves up for the most massive and devastating market failure humanity has ever seen.  /  So we recycle our garbage.  We vote greener.  We buy sleek, new hybrid cars and fill our houses with energy-efficient light bulbs.  And we put our money and faith in the brave and ingenious technologies that will rescue us from the whirlwind.  /  But it won’t be enough.  Because this is not, fundamentally, a technological problem.  No is it, fundamentally, a political problem.  This is a problem of appetites, and of narcissism, and of self-deceit.  The planet is breaking, and it is breaking under the weight of our hunger for more.  To reform the world, we must first reform ourselves.” (Cue a whole bunch of discussion.)
  • Another “ad”: The picture shows three women near a beach.  There’s a concrete, half-completed building behind them, and the nearest woman is in her 50’s.  Her bathing suit straps are down (wouldn’t want a tan line, you know), but she’s wearing several gold bracelets and necklaces with her pricey-looking sunglasses as she puffs on a cigarette.  The caption: “The more you consume, the less you live.”  I’ve been pondering that sentence for two weeks now; cue discussing that sentence with a friend over coffee.
  • A quote: “On your mark, get set, kill each other!”  That’s the phrase shouted by a Wal-Mart greeter right before 2000 people trampled each other to get cheap X-Boxes.  Yes, nothing shows Christmas spirit quite like pushing someone down and stepping on their face to get that special gift for your special someone.  Cue the planning ahead for how THIS Christmas COULD look in your life.
  • A few links: To check out a few campaigns that Ad Busters spearheads, go HERE.  The page is currently being updated, but mark it for later when it’s filled out more.  The three that grab my eye are “Buy Nothing Day”, “Buy Nothing (or Less) Christmas”, and “Mental Detox Week”.

    • And since it’s my blog, let me say what I’ve thought a thousand times… I don’t understand why these are not messages that I’ve heard more loudly in the churches of my life.  Why it is that a slightly enraged, ready-to-protest, politically-voiced, neo-hippy kind of publication speaks to my spirit in ways that my faith community should?  THAT is a challenging thought about which I am trying to do somethingCue another cup of coffee.
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