The International Writers Magazine: Modern Lifestyles
what you wear, where you buy it, what you smoke, where you drink.
It's what you listen to and it's where you live. From the shoes
on your feet to the products in your hair, this is the materialism
our society hinges on. But why are material possessions so important
My Prada - My Life
To get an idea we
can look toward a country where this has gone to an extreme, where school
girls sell their underwear in vending machines so they can buy a new
pair of Pradas.
This is Japan.
When a society is so repressed through social conventions and complicated
rules of etiquette the pleasures in life become more important. The
ephemeral nature of the things we buy reflect the fleeting nature of
happiness for Haruki Murakami. His novels feature this battle between
equally wanting happiness and unhappiness (therešs more certainty in
the latter). His women are as unobtainable to his men as happiness itself.
For so many, personal happiness is hinged upon an impossible dream based
on money: if only I was rich, I'd be happy!
Of course, those with money have a lot of power just look at Madonna.
This is a woman who constantly changes her mind, but carries a multitude
of followers with her. For her, it is not just what she buys that is
ephemeral, but also her morals and religion. Her fads all fade with
the latest hair colour. But it's not just her: you only have to look
at fashion and celebrity magazines to see how quickly our society moves
on. Our idea of celebrity is one that pivots upon lust and aspiration
(men want her, women want to be her), but it is fickle. We brand ourselves
with what we buy and our choices show more of who we want to be (Beyonce/Jlo/Brad)
than who we actually are.
Does this mean that who we want to be always changes? Perhaps it's more
that we want to be successful our idea of success equates with money
and thus we want what they have, which always changes. The latest car,
the shoes of the moment and the hottest best seller. It's always got
to be now and new (except for when it's vintage or retro, but that's
deliberately old so now). We're all chameleons, changing colour to
suit the rest of our tribe. This tribal aspect of life from the Chavs
to the Sloanes goes back to playgrounds and fairy tales. It's
the stigma and fear of not being accepted by society. A tribe gives
a sense of belonging with its own top ten, a reading list and even a
uniform. It's how we ensure that we donšt become the wicked old witch
in her gingerbread house. When we were at school, we had bullying as
a way to sacrifice another so we wouldn't be shunned. Now we have tribal
name-calling, hence the rise of Chav-spotting.
Is life just about conformity? (And should it be?) This is another theme
important to Murakami. His characters are fascinating, but not for any
kind of conventional beauty or conformity. These are individuals who
are unique. They are so alluring for their minds and mannerisms; an
off the wall idea and a flicker of a smile are more beautiful than a
perfect nose and cheekbones to die for. And so Murakami asks us to have
the courage to be ourselves.
Key Influence Films: Mean Girls- About A Boy-
Waynešs World - Clueless
Essential TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Influential Books: Child X - Lee Weatherly - Sputnik Sweetheart - Murakami
Topical Magazines/Newspapers: The Face Cosmopolitan The Observer The
Independent The Guardian
Games: The Sims Music: Over the Counter Culture The Ordinary Boys
© Clare Sager
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