Jens The Consumer

by Jens Alfke ⟿ August 24, 1995

The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
—Gang Of Four, “Natural’s Not In It”

“He realizes everything he does is second-hand, a waking dream, a dream someone else has dreamed for him — when he walks into a pub and greets friends with a line he’s half-consciously lifted from last night’s sit-com, he’s an advertisement. He hears himself and he feels tricked, humiliated, so he smashes into his friends … as if he’s never seen them before but knows they mean him no good. Screaming, he insists that he’s happy.”
—Greil Marcus

Like most of us, I derive much of my sense of identity from mass-marketed consumer commodities, and present my identity to other people by prominently displaying these brand names and logos. But it’s okay, because I adopt a knowing, ironic Generation-X attitude towards it.

And really, apart from Apple t-shirts (they give them to me for free) and other shirts so deeply ironic they can’t be taken seriously (Spam, Mister Bubble) the major brand names I freely advertise are those of musical groups that haven’t quite taken over the world yet. Many of them aren’t even signed to deals with multinational corporations. Yet I have bought so deeply into the pop music dream that I believe the names and identities of my favorite bands are indicative of who I am and what I stand for.