PsyBlog has posted a list of “six psychological reasons consumer culture is unsatisfying.” All of them can be boiled down to the idea that when it comes to purchases, experiences are ultimately more satisfying than objects, mainly because experiences become fond memories instead of outdated clutter. Retailers who sell objects are as aware of this as psychologists are, so their marketing efforts arguably tend to try to make shopping itself into an experience, and make the purchased object into a necessary souvenir of that experience. Or is that experiences have become polluted with souvenirs as they are made “consumable”?
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Let’s forget for a moment that he played the reprehensible antagonist Jim Batten in the equally awful Jon Mikl Thor vehicle (and MST3K favorite) Zombie Nightmare, or that the rest of his limited acting resume is similarly shoddy. Let’s ignore his boob tube work, directorial efforts for shows like The Secret World of Alex Mack and The Famous Jett Jackson arguing for his limited skills behind the lens. His jump from the small screen to the big Bijou was facilitated by the luck of a prime time draw (2002’s Big Fat Liar featured flavor of the Fox month, Malcolm in the Middle‘s Frankie Muniz) and the restricted success of said family film gave him the chance to expand his creative wings.
The results? The horrid Just Married, the equally awful Cheaper by the Dozen remake, the nauseating update of The Pink Panther (poor Peter Sellers is still spinning in his grave), and the overblown high concept F/X farces Night at the Museum and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Now with Date Night, his deflating of TV titans Tina Fey and Steve Carrel, Shawn Levy has reached a kind of commercial crossroads. While it looks to be a modest hit (Hollywood has never gone broke catering to the ‘CGAS’ - “could give a shit” - demo), it does put this derivative hack demon in a very precarious spot. Until now, he’s been able to hide his Four Horsemen heinousness. But with this unfunny cinematic buffoon-cartoon, Levy has announced himself as the motion picture Antichrist.
AV Club’s “Under the Cover” series treks on with Americana golden boy Justin Townes Earle’s take on the Springsteen classic “Atlantic City”.
Here’s your dose of young adult fiction for the day. Frankie Landau-Banks is a sophomore at an elite American boarding school where a mystery lurks, and it’s one that only boys are supposed to be involved in. Enter intrigue!
So of course Frankie needs to investigate. Puzzling out the pieces of a semi-secret old boys society, the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, Frankie is determined to find out all she can about the group that forms the roots of future business deals as the boys graduate and attend top-tier universities, then go on to lucrative careers. Why should only boys get to do the social networking and bonding that mean their children too will be born with silver spoons in their mouths?
Well, this is quite strange. There’s an inarguable baby zeitgeist happening right now for some reason. Celebrity birthing speculations are one of the few things that keep the print industry alive, while the E*Trade babies manage to get a movie deal.
Babies, a documentary about the first year of four different infants living in different parts of the world, seems like a product of that zeitgeist, but it somehow appears novel. The trailer shows a thoughtful and visually dynamic film that takes a different spin on the subject matter than the rest of pop culture (i.e. doesn’t give them CGI mouths.)
Although something as mindless as babies or bacon can take the world by storm, this shows that it can be possible to take a mundane subject and give it a serious look. This is just a trailer, so this may not ultimately be the case, but it shows hope.