The impacts of commercialism and materialism on society

Commercialism and materialism are major flaws inherent within modern society.

Consequently, as satirical texts, Nick Hornby’s 1998 novel “About a Boy” and Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein’s episode of “The Simpsons: Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” written in 1994 critique this. Both texts are used as vehicles to demonstrate to the audience the detrimental impacts that commercialism and materialism have on society, through the use of a range of textual and satirical techniques.Through the juxtaposition of two opposing stereotypes, the protagonists Marcus and Will, Hornby exaggerates and criticises the effect that commercialism has on the social life and personality of an individual.

Marcus is introduced in the text as a social outcast who is bullied at school. His mistreatment can be partly attributed to his complete lack of “cool” and materialistic possessions. As he explained in Chapter 3: “the [bullies] patrolled up and down school corridors like sharks…on the lookout for…the wrong trousers, or the wrong haircut, or the wrong shoes, any of which sent them wild. Through the use of simile and the repetition of “wrong”, Hornby emphasises the enthusiasm with which the bullies search for and harass others on the sole basis of materialistic reasons.

Hornby portrays an exaggerated environment where even children form social hierarchies based upon the principles of materialism. These techniques are used to ridicule contemporary society and the effect that commercialism has on one’s social life. Hornby use the characterisation of Will Freeman as an allegory of materialism to demonstrate the detrimental impact that mindless consumption has on an individual’s personality and identity.Ironically, despite his “trendy” and decadent lifestyle, Will is as socially isolated as Marcus, demonstrating the negative effect of supporting a materialistic ideology on one’s social life.

Consequently, Will is portrayed as a shallow and selfish individual who places value into possessions rather than meaningful relationships and emotions. The exaggeration of Will’s extreme materialism and possession-based lifestyle is evident when Will stated, in Chapter 2, that he had “spent more than 300 pounds on a jacket…[and] more than 20 pounds on a haircut” and his mindless and repetitive consumption of the showCountdown. This ridicule reinforces the replacement of “real feelings” with superficial possessions that exists in every aspect of his life, as exemplified in Chapter 20 when “he used loud angry rock music as an expression of real feelings,” therefore completing the portrayal of a shallow man and the consequences of a materialistic lifestyle. Hornby juxtaposes and critiques the two extremes, to demonstrate that both the complete lack of materialistic sentiment and the dedication to commercialism result in detrimental impacts.

The high degree of influence that commercial products and materialism has on individuals, especially children, is a fundamental flaw in society. Thus, Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy, uses situational irony to effectively reflect on this theme. This is demonstrated when Lisa complained about the sexist phrases spoken by a line of talking Malibu Stacy dolls, such as “thinking gives you wrinkles.

” Marge remarked that “[she] had a Malibu Stacy when [she] was little and [she] turned out all right. ” She then dismissed the complaint by stating “Let’s forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream. In reply Lisa pulls the phrase string causing her doll to say the same phrase. Oakley and Weinstein use the characterisation of Marge to demonstrate and ridicule the consequences of the impact of commercialism.

This reinforces the idea that commercial products can have a detrimental impact on younger individuals, particularly if they convey sexist or misogynist ideologies. As the episode progresses Lisa develops her own line of Lisa Lionheart dolls that state intelligent and independent lines. However, the project fails due to the new “[Malibu Stacy] with a hat. The fact that a less intellectual doll is vastly preferred over Lisa’s doll demonstrates how reasonable objections can be ignored in society for the sake of following trends, as a result of commercial influence.

The mindless consumption of commercial goods is satirised in Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy as Weinstein and Oakley exaggerate and mock the gullibility of consumers. This is evident when an unrealistic Buzz Cola commercial is broadcasted on television showing elderly citizens drinking Buzz Cola and transforming into young, “hip” revellers. Grandpa Simpson immediately proclaimed that he’s “looking and acting young from now on.

And [he’s] going to start with a Buzz Cola! ” Later during the episode, Lisa released her Lisa Lionheart dolls to the market. Malibu Stacys’ developers felt threatened and decided to “reinvent Malibu Stacy for the 90’s. [And they’ll] stay all night if [they] have to. ” The following day, Lisa Lionheart sold a single doll while Malibu Stacy sales increased exponentially to exclamations of: “she’s better than ever” despite Lisa’s reasonable and intellectual protestations that “she’s just a regular Malibu Stacy with a stupid cheap new hat” and that “she still embodies all the awful [misogynist] stereotypes she did before.

The irony that the developers “spent all night” to “reinvent” the Malibu Stacy and made a minimal change to the product in the form of a hat is demonstrated in conjunction with the fact that the consumers were still willing to buy it.The clear juxtaposition of the two dolls and the choice made by the consumers despite being presented with clear and rational arguments allows the composers of the text to succinctly outline and mock the naivety of consumers as a fault in contemporary culture. Both About a Boy and Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy are used as vehicles by Nick Hornby, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein to identify and critique consumerism and materialism as major flaws inherent within modern society and their impacts.

The composer achieve the satirical treatment of the effects of materialism on one’s social life and personality, its influence on consumers and their gullibility through the use of a range of textual and satirical techniques. Baz Luhrmann modernised Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in his 1996 cinematic adaption “Romeo + Juliet” while maintaining its textual integrity and dramatic impact.By focusing on and retaining the universal themes of love, hate and impetuousness, Luhrmann successfully shows contemporary audiences the relevance of the original play. This is further explored through the translation of the original play with a modern perspective and a range of dramatic and cinematic techniques.

Love, specifically youthful passion, is a universal theme understood by all audiences. This concept is demonstrated during Act II Scene II when Romeo and Juliet affirm their mutual love and exchange “faithful vow[s]” of marriage.Romeo’s metaphorical exclamation that Juliet’s window is “the east, and Juliet is the sun,” presents light as a motif to reflect on Juliet’s beauty and his love. This motif is used again when Juliet bids him “a thousand time good night” and he replies: “a thousand times the worse, to want thy light.

” The use of a hyperbole further emphasises the presence of love as a fundamental aspect of the scene. Similarly, Luhrmann introduces the motifs of water and light into his cinematic adaption.The two are used collectively in the form of the pool, its ambient lighting and the string lights below Juliet’s balcony to depict a sense of vitality and youth. This atmosphere of youthful passion is reinforced when as soft piano non-diegetic musical piece complements the two protagonists as they confess their love in the pool.

By changing the setting from an orchard to a modern pool, Luhrmann explores the use of cinematic features while retaining the universal theme of love, thus modernising the text while allowing audiences to enjoy the drama of the original play.The theme of hate, and the resulting “quarrel” between the Capulet and Montague houses is highlighted in Act I Scene I of Shakespeare’s original play. This theme is emphasised through the depiction and characterisation of Tybalt Capulet as an allegory of hate. This is evident when Tybalt states: “peace? I hate the word, as I hate hell [and] all Montagues.

” Prince Escales also refers to the two houses as “enemies of peace” and demands them to “quench the fire of [their] pernicious rage” supporting the theme of hate.Romeo + Juliet’s first scene also demonstrate hate as a major theme, however it exaggerates and criticises it through satire. The characters perform quick comedic actions in a slapstick style, such as Sampson biting his thumb, and their lines are delivered in a significantly exaggerated manner to reinforce the general comedic atmosphere. During the first aspect of the gunfight, a western non-diegetic underscore plays while Tybalt performs extravagant poses while fighting.

The constant and frequent appearance of religious symbols, such as: the portrait of Jesus on Tybalt’s vest, the cross hanging from Benvolio’s gun and the cross that both houses wear as necklaces, provides situational irony through the juxtaposition of their presence and the fact that the characters wearing the symbols are the ones committing acts of violence. The latter half of the scene portrays a dire tone, as signified by the flames covering the entire scene during the fight. This is evidence of the use of fire to symbolically represent hate, as supported by the Pheonix Gas Station sign: “Add more fuel to your fire”. The scene is underscored with dramatic non-diegetic orchestral music to further reinforce the idea of hate in the scene.

Luhrmann first satirises and critiques the hate as petty and then as harmful to society to not only maintain the textual integrity of the play and theme, but also to reflects on it from a contemporary perspective. Impetuousness plays a major role in Romeo and Juliet, primarily through the impulsive nature of the protagonist, Romeo.The entire play occurs over the course of five days, demonstrating the impetuousness of the two lovers, causing Juliet to remark in Act II Scene II that their love was “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden [and] too like…lightning. ” The repetition of “too” and the simile comparing their love to lightning reinforces the idea of a hasty relationship.

During Act V Scene III, Romeo’s irrational desire to return to Verona and suicide immediately after being informed of Juliet’s faked “death” and his cry of “tempt not a desperate man” exaggerates the image of a reckless youth who does not consider the consequences of his actions.Furthermore, despite the fact that Romeo noticed that “death’s pale flag [has] not advanced” on Juliet’s complexion, he ignores the detail and drinks the poison. This dramatic irony emphasised the rashness inherent within the characterisation of Romeo and as a theme in the play. Similarly, Luhrmann also demonstrates impulsiveness within Romeo + Juliet through Romeo.

During Act II Scene II, Romeo and Juliet deliver their lines and kiss each other with exaggerated speed, highlighting the impetuous nature of the relationship.This idea is further explored in Act V Scene III, where fast paced non-diegetic music and the constant ticking clock sound effect underscores the action scenes when the police attempt to arrest Romeo for entering Verona. Luhrmann exaggerates the dramatic irony of Romeo’s death to emphasise his impulsiveness. Juliet wakes immediately before Romeo takes the poison and brushes his face with her fingers, an action he does not notice.

Therefore, Luhrmann uses film and dramatic techniques to retain the significance of impetuousness as a theme in “Romeo and Juliet” and in the characterisation of its protagonists to translate the text for modern audiences. Luhrmann successfully demonstrates the relevance of Shakespeares “Romeo and Juliet” to contemporary audiences by depicting its universal themes of love, hate and impetuousness with a modern perspective and a range of dramatic and cinematic techniques. He achieves this in his “Romeo + Juliet” while maintaining its textual integrity and dramatic impact.

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