The Consequences of Buying Everything

An interview with Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters, about Buy Nothing Day last year. (sorry the beginning is a repeat of the commercial from yesterday).

The video is about 5 minutes long, but quite interesting

My favorite part of the Video:
“If somebody want’s to buy their kid an elmo doll, what’s the harm in that?”

“You make it sound so nice. But you know, if we consume 86% and we leave only 14% for the other 5 billion people on the planet, how do you think it makes them feel?

Forget about our kids, what about their kids?

39 thoughts on “The Consequences of Buying Everything”

  1. I can’t stand that condescending CNN interviewer.. She should seriously stop being so damn subjective and try to act like a news reporter

  2. thanks for this vid. we are reading Culture Jam, Lasn’s book, in my writing course at Michigan State University. I think we are also going to be watching this clip.

    So, thanks.

    and so much for CNN Entertainment Television.


  3. that anchor may be one of the more maddeningly ignorant people i’ve heard lately. what’s so depressing is that most of the u.s. probably thinks like her.

  4. wow….that’s a journalist?
    Kelle, you’re my new hero.
    If you are interested in that guy’s work you should check out his other book, it is more aimed toward designers but it’s real nice , it’s called design anarchy.
    Check out the adbuster website for a sample.

  5. Kalle Lasn is a prophet. I only hope we start listening to him and others like him who are trying to bring us self-indulgent consumerists to our senses before we destroy the only planet we have. We can’t claim we haven’t been warned.

  6. it’s obvious that interviewer is a member of the “consuming” or “do-as-we-tell-you” cult. ironically the more shopping in developed world done the more misery in developing world(no one in developed world cares about nor wants to see developing world developed)to overlook. in any case, the interviewer gets to keep her job exactly by reporting how consumerism makes you feel good because EVERYONE’S DOING IT!! So, people DON’T THINK FOR YOURSELVES but JOIN THE CULT, CULT WILL THINK FOR YOU and TELL YOU WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU. BUY ALL THAT YOU DON’T REALLY NEED and SHOW OFF YOUR PURCHASING POWER TO OTHERS …IT’LL MAKE ‘EM MAD JEALOUS AND YOU’LL BE COOL.

  7. An interviewer is there to listen OBJECTIVELY to the views and opinons of the interviewee. This ethnocentric perspective is, unfortunately, typical of Americans who think they can trample over everyone else. Its sad, but I’m glad that Kalle took it with class.

  8. I love all the new comments that pop up on here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone.

    I’m curious how sharing the views of Kalle has changed your purchasing habits.

  9. The interviewer is really annoying, and it is amazing the way Lasn took it. I would lose my temper.

  10. Wow, that’s the first time I’ve watched TV in years. I guess I find two things amazing. First, I’m amazed that the U.S. culture is so resilient. When I look at ancient Egyptian culture, I know that the Egyptians believed deeply in their culture, but today it would be hard to take an ancient Egyptian seriously if he proclaimed pretty much any of his cultural norms. Most people presume that we couldn’t take the Egyptian seriously because “we are more developed, more rational, more modern.” For example, if an Egyptian told you that “slavery is OK” or that the state religion demanded the sacrifice of your life to help a leader cross into the afterlife, you would tell him to go fuck himself, that he’s antiquated. Now I’m surprised that Americans don’t tell their own culture to go fuck itself when it tells them “one should work,” “people should buy things,” “have an economy,” that the state religion demands the sacrifice of one’s life for manna, etc. In a way, it seems almost absurd that Americans don’t reject their own culture, because we ostensibly have an individualist culture, and one would naively suppose that any individualist culture would reject all of the rituals of ancient Egypt just out of sheer laziness and eyebrow-raising skepticism. However, I suppose that this isn’t the case mostly because people haven’t examined their own culture carefully enough — like a scientist — and somehow assume that their own culture is “magically different” and that they should “be sociable” and “do what’s necessary.”

    The second thing that surprises me is that people like Kalle are willing to speak to this culture. That they are willing to speak to this culture indicates that they feel it is productive to speak. However, I can’t imagine myself rationally discussing any issue of interest with an ancient Egyptian! The Egyptian for example might decide that I was a slave and should be used as a paving stone to the afterlife. How could I find common ground with a view like that? What would I say? Should I say, “You’re nearly entirely wrong and would be better off assuming nothing at all?” At best, the Egyptian would ignore me and go back to making Egyptian cultural artifacts. I can’t imagine how Kalle can discuss much of anything with a public which holds such outlandish views. It’s no surprise at all when they get angry at him like this reporter did, for clearly an Egyptian would get angry at me for not bowing down to Horus or Isus and giving the appropriate sacrifices.

    Finally, I think Kalle’s pretty cool for trying to speak to such a culture. I mean, it takes balls, and you already know beforehand that the culture will mindlessly lash out at you in “self-defense” and will look at nothing at all that you say based on its own merits. Kalle is throwing foreign values at the Beast itself and he knows that it will go for the jugular not by reasoning with him but by dominating the meme space with white noise. What can he do? He can’t win, not directly, but perhaps he can help in the periphery by helping to teach people: to teach people online in blogs to talk among ourselves rather than talk about television, to consider actual problems rather than fictitious ones, to realize that our lives do actually have meaning, etc.

    In the end, he wins only if he can show us the extent of our ignorance. So I leave by boldly proclaiming my ignorance. I am ignorant!

  11. It makes me terribly sad to see that woman say that people would not be discouraged from overconsumption based on the ecological and psychological threat alone. What is disrespectful to Mr. Lasn is that she isnt even thinking about anything he is saying, she just laughs it all off.

  12. OK, sorry for going over the deep end in my comment before.

    I think what I was trying to say is that it’s really worrying, the lack of introspection that some people show in their lives. I don’t think avoiding “consumerism” is just about reducing environmental damage and reducing the amount of wasted energy in a society generally, but it’s also about not destroying peoples’ own lives. Because purchasing things is really self-destructive after a certain point, it’s not healthy. I’ve seen it, and it’s not a happy thing.

  13. Kalle Lasn is an idiot.

    The consumeristic means of pacifying a nation is the only probable method of maintaining peaceful economy. His ideas on this type of behavior causing wars (which I suppose eludes to the oil market) isn’t a battle worth fighting citizens for.

    Insulting people into agreeing with an opinion is a valiant tactic, but adbusters and Kalle have better success with satirically showing the techniques of various corporations preying on peoples “needs”.

    Kalle’s endgame is one of disastrous consequences for our over-initiated society. He’d be better off to assume people are idiots and inform rather than plead for a revolution in anti-consumerism.

    My apologies for the objective opinions.

  14. Tab, if your “peaceful” economy is a destructive, insidious wreck, and I believe it is, what’s the point in trying to preserve it? And Lasn does inform: all of his work is jam-packed with facts, data, and statistics to go along with his rhetoric. And your “disastrous consequences” are my “necessary global rebirth”. It’s all a matter of perspective. I think the difference between you and I is that you have not had the epiphany that I have had, where you suddenly realize how horrible corporate America is, and how it must be stopped.

  15. You know nothing.
    “Necessary global rebirth”? Bullshit.

    It won’t work, it’s too far gone to inform and rebuild. The real battle to be fought here is to prevent it from getting worse, which the latest issue of Adbusters presents fluidly without holding back.

    Kalle has a lot of theoretical economics based on probable theories and formula’s that have been used successfully elsewhere in the world.

    America’s corporate structure is necessary to maintain their society, the only intervention we can achieve without national anarchy is to keep the line of power in balance.

  16. So…you’re giving up? I’m not mad at you, because that’s your choice. But I read Culture Jam religiously. It is gospel to me. And perhaps its greatest tenet is this: never give up. Never. I don’t care if its unrealistic, I don’t care if it’s naive, I DON’T CARE. It’s about time America dropped its can’t-do attitude, latched onto a cause, and fought for it until their last breath. The USSR couldn’t collapse. It did. Black people couldn’t gain equal standing in the eyes of the law. They did. America ITSELF, a purely experimental democracy founding a bunch of scrappy colonists fighting the world’s greatest empire, couldn’t succeed, but it did. I never said that the transition won’t be bizarre, uncomfortable, maybe even dangerous, but the alternative is unacceptable.

  17. Jupiter, it’s a rough concept. I’d invite you to come see a CAMH (Center for Addiction and Mental Health) seminar.

    The most interesting insights on this issue come from the organizations in charge of people who are overloaded by this relentlessly merciless culture (this is also, by no coincidence, where I intern).

    But as anyone there will tell you, without pacifying the masses with a bunch of corporate monogamy. It would be a lot worse. It’s not that they’re giving up, it’s not that they agree with it. It’s that shutting off a nation like America from its corporate control will instantly and devastatingly affect it’s mental health and economy.

    I don’t think I need remind you of China’s acquisition of America’s world debt. Civil unrest amongst it’s people can only further it’s unbalance.

    People can opt for slow change, to attempt to stem the media control here, to sell some blackspots instead of nike’s there. But fighting to revolt against the way people live is what’s really unacceptable.

  18. Jupiter and Tab,

    Thanks for a brilliant discussion that was way over my head. I’m really glad you two could find a common space to dialog, to the benefit of others.

    I’m not exactly sure what the conclusions was, but maybe you’ll take some more space to make it clear to the rest of us.

    Tab, are you suggesting we do anything about our consumer culture?

    Jupiter, you sound like your interested in action. What type of action do you suggest?

  19. The kind of action I’m talking about begins with mankind taking control of corporations. We invented them, we should control them, and they are desperately out of control. Make posters that mock them, put “fat” stickers on a McDonalds or “wage slave” stickers on a WalMart. Make jokes about them and tell your friends. If you’re an artist, make a few pieces dissing them. If your job involves public speaking, throw in a line about them at the end of your speech. Spray-paint their walls, take them to court for emotional damage (what else is subversive advertising, report them to the cops for environmental and health violations. If this is all too much, simply stop buying products from the worst environmental and social offenders. (notably Kraft, Post, and McDonalds)Do it all with the conviction that corporations are not responsible, respectable members of society, but icons of shame and mockery that don’t deserve your respect. Culture Jammers don’t believe in banning things: That’s commie talk. We believe in mocking, demarketing, truth-telling, and protesting to a degree that the public realizes how bad our enemies are, and stops servicing them on their own.

  20. Jupiter,

    Definitely a lot of stuff I resonate with, though many I struggle with the legality of. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I’d love to hear stories about some of your actions.

  21. Legality is a touchy issue with many. The way I see it, the worst corporations-Phillip Morris, WalMart, Calvin Klein, and McDonalds-have already committed crimes against humanity, so they have forfeited their rights. One of the things that Lasn says in his book is that not everybody who supports the movement has the chutzpah to go out and start a revolution. If you are one of those people, that’s OK-just protest in quieter ways. Boycott certain goods, chat up your friends, limit your TV watching, etc. As to what I’ve been doing? Well, I really only discovered this movement about 20 days ago, so I haven’t had the chance to do much. It’s also cold in Chicago and I don’t wanna go outside. So mostly what I’ve been doing is just wandering the internet, chatting up whoever I meet about the culture jamming movement, and just spreading our ideals in general.

  22. Jupiter,

    thanks for your thoughts on legality, I’d love to hear more of what your doing, even being new to the movement, What have you jumped out and enjoyed doing?

  23. What I’ve largely been doing is, like I said, going around the internet and trying to sell people on the movement, especially on the website deviantart. I’ve attracted a lot of attention, if nothing else. I’m a bit ashamed to say that I haven’t taken much action yet. High school life is a bit confining, so I’m hoping to do more over the summer and in college. But ultimately, I think that winning more converts is the best thing I can do. This revolution will take more than a few fighters.

  24. What a dumb reporter. So much for unbiased reporting.
    Way to go Kalle Lasn! We need more and more of that message in the media.

  25. Kalle Lasn is completely right, but he is not giving the background to back up what he’s saying: what rampant consumerism is doing to the planet, etc. etc.
    People just hear him ranting about “don’t buy” and don’t see anything put in context.

    His choice of pro-consumer CNN was a poor one to expose his views, he allowed himself to be set up to look ridiculous by the woman interviewing him.

    Not to say that Kalle Lasn is perfect however. His own personal life is sadly lacking in living what he preaches.

  26. ‘oh come on’ i found that very annoying and unprofessional!!!! I agree with Kalle, 3000 marketing messages must effect us more than we think.

  27. @Tina, Curious about your comment about Lasn. Do you have an article or info you could point to me about his lack of practicing what he preaches?

  28. Aria,

    I read it somewhere, it’s been months now, so I don’t remember. But they had interviewed Kalle Lasn. He drove a car everywhere, ate hamburgers from fast food joints, etc. When questioned about this, he just shrugged.


  29. In order to eliminate ALL advertising we have to eliminate the WAGE system, used to be called slavery but is now called Capitalism. All people should own all things worldwide, obviously, so that food, medicine & all things are free so then no one will have to create ads to get a wage or starve. Work-or-starve is the cause of world poverty. If all food is owned by rich people/corporations, then they say "If you want MY food you have to BUY it, & if you can't get a JOB to buy it then STARVE." Consider the lilies, they TOIL NOT & yet God feeds them. No one should ever have to work for a wage or starve. End the wage to eliminate all advertisements, most importantly end FOOD advertisements. Read "Rogue State" by Wm Blum to see how USA forced every attempt at Socialism & Communism (God's perfect way) to fail.

  30. In order to eliminate ALL advertising we have to eliminate the WAGE system, used to be called slavery but is now called Capitalism. All people should own all things worldwide, obviously, so that food, medicine & all things are free so then no one will have to create ads to get a wage or starve. Work-or-starve is the cause of world poverty. If all food is owned by rich people/corporations, then they say "If you want MY food you have to BUY it, & if you can't get a JOB to buy it then STARVE." Consider the lilies, they TOIL NOT & yet God feeds them. No one should ever have to work for a wage or starve. End the wage to eliminate all advertisements, most importantly end FOOD advertisements. Read "Rogue State" by Wm Blum to see how USA forced every attempt at Socialism & Communism (God's perfect way) to fail.

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