So I really got to thinking on Tuesday while we were discussing the magazines that fashion, like video games, or heroin (not necessarily different from video games) is much like an addiction. Our culture today is heavily dependent on “fixes” to help a person get through the day (see smoking figures. On a side note, have you seen Thank You for Smoking? If you haven’t, you should.) As I sat there, trying to find meaning in perfume ads, perfume I might mention that I would probably be able to fund my meals for a month based on the cost of it, it struck me that I could literally sit there for weeks staring at these products trying to find meaning in them, and then spend a fair amount of money to purchase some of them, and less than 6 months later I would have to turn around and spend more money on something else that may or may not be necessary in the first place.
Enter Everquest. Ever play? You pay $50 for the base game (at least you did at the time.) Then, you pay about $13 a month (per account) to get up to 8 characters or so an account (that you can only play one at a time). Every 6 months (or so) they put out an expansion which would cost anywhere from $20 to…. $50 dollars. Some of these expansions actually included a substantial amount of new content. Some, (skipping names, which I could give you, if you really want) basically allowed you to change the color of your characters clothes. Oh, and extra Bank Slots. Don’t forget the bank slots. Worthless right? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But we still paid the money for it. Just like the teenager who is obsessive with fashion will without a thought decide that she absolutely MUST have the new whatchamacallit from whoeveritwas who designed the pieceofcrapthateveryonehastohave and will do anything to get it.
Its all still just a way for Americans to get their fix. At least in a game, you get some sense of accomplishment, you get the next level. Fashion? You get a closet full of clothes you wear once (can’t be caught dead in the same dress more than once?) which you may or may not ever wear and then donate (or throw away) when the rack breaks and you realize its time to get rid of some of the clothes. A dear friend of mine recently purchased a house. I’m so excited for her! BUT She told me she spent several hours arranging her closet, getting it perfect and then to her dismay realized that she had roughly double the amount of objects outside the closet, as there already were inside of it. We both laughed. At least she realizes that she has a crazy amount of clothes. Am I addicted to Video Games? Probably. While I have kicked the EQ, SWG, and WoW habits, I’m currently playing Eve Online. While I could spend some of that money on fashionable items, or Vogue!, on some level I guess I’m geeky enough to realize that its still a waste of time and money. At least this way its on my terms. Or maybe I just have horrible fashion sense and should never go out in public. That works too.
I tend to look at the use of media (fashion included) as a quest for identity. We experiment with entertainment or leisure media as a means to try out lifeworlds different from our own with the goal of finding some intersection (horizon?) between the two that help us situate or expand our lifeworld. For some people, fashion is a chief route and for other it’s video games, novels, photography, etc.
Much more I could say here, but I may make it a blog post. 🙂
In your last paragraph you said “on my terms”… It got me thinking. We discussed the idea that a perfume ad is only a perfume ad to a certain subset of the human population and it ties into the idea of the ‘fix’ or the idea of ‘fitting in’ or ‘expanding our horizon’…. Consider religion as a form of media. Utilized by cultures to civilize the ‘savages’, pr subsets of people who didn’t share in the same lifestyle, the same horizon. It is interesting to think about the differences of forced life-worlds vs. shared life-worlds… just a thought.
Aren’t all lifeworlds “forced” though? I mean, your culture is pretty much unilaterally assign to you, based on when and where and to whom you were born.
Still though, great point, Tim. Your observations that some lifeworlds are tools of subjugation rings of what Jeff was saying in class about how most lifeworlds to date have served to preserve the white-male-rich power structures. It’s a creepy curtain to look behind.
I’m going to leave the deep thoughts to Tim and Marty, and instead follow up with something very shallow. 🙂
I think video games and fashion are not a waste of time. If they were, neither industry would be as big, influential, or aesthetically mature (especially fashion) as it is. I agree with Tyler when he talks about how interacting with these cultural phenomena help us develop our identities, in a creative and social process. Yes, there is crass commercialism in much of it, and yes, one’s addiction to these things (like any addiction, say, to politics, film, or Air Supply) can squeeze out other good things in life, so I don’t mean to paint an Edenic vision here. But I do think there is great value in video games and fashion, because both of them have enriched my social and internal life.
I’ll post an even shallower comment regarding the Everquest effect.
LOL. That is outstanding!
A great blog post idea would be to explain that video as the humorous juxtaposition of different lifeworlds. Someone, get to it!
ooook. Great clip! And Jeff, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing these games and I agree that a lot of the experiences I’ve gained from them are well worth the time. “Waste of Time” is used with the fondest of affection.
great clip! i’ll try to find some Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy to post in the near future.