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Pulling At The Fringes: The Great American Pastime - Shopping

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Do zombies exist? Simply go to your local mall.

As we come upon autumn, many people get excited about that grand ole American pastime of baseball, as it moves into the playoffs on the way to the fall classic, the World Series. Others get excited about the beginning of football season. But the retailers are giddy about an entirely different season. So, what is the great American pastime in the 21st century? It's a question I have asked myself since I was a teenager, viewing the rampant hypocrisy in message versus deed. And over the last several years the message has increasingly cropped up as I hear politicians saying we need to protect "our way of life" or our culture. As I have looked around the post-modern American landscape, there is really only one conclusion I can find that really is the glue that keeps people in this country together. In a word - shopping.

For proof, there are several primary examples I found. First and foremost, American television, the general anesthesia, which seems now to exist for no other reason than to promote products and/or more television. The entire medium is supported or sponsored by corporations hoping to run their commercials, display their logo or place their products. Even a 30-minute news program, which usually consists of about 21 minutes of actual programming, will undoubtedly have segments on popular consumer products - a newly approved medicine, a new electronic device, the latest movie, a food craze...we may not even realize how bombarded we actually are.

And to answer the question - do zombies exist? - simply go to your local mall. You will find that, in fact, the living dead not only exist but seem to breed quite prevalently. See the eyes, glazed over in the climate-controlled concrete eco-dome that seems to suck the life right out of any creature that ventures inside, numbing the conscious mind to consume over-priced non-essential junk. I can only marvel at the vacuous state people walk around in at these temples of blind consumerism.

How many pairs of shoes does a person really need? Doesn't anyone understand that the changing face of fashion exists only to serve itself by continually offering and proffering new wares for people to buy? And then they prey on people's insecurities by basically saying - "you want to be hip, don't you? You don't want to walk around in out-dated clothing, do you?" This really boils down to someone saying - "if you don't buy our product, you're not hip, and that is a reflection of your personal character and worth." And people follow along unquestioningly! I mean, this is the same country that produced the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?

There seems to be nothing in this country that is marketing-free. Television, of course. The radio seems to exist solely to sell more music or tell you what is on TV tonight. The great meeting places of yore have been replaced by malls and restaurants. Get 25 people together on a street corner and the police are likely to show up rather quick. Put those same 25 people in the mall, no problem. This whole marvelous system is rather like a hamster wheel in which the hamster runs on the wheel to keep the wheel spinning and the spinning wheel thus keeps the hamster running. Surely there is something beyond "work, eat, buy, consume then die."

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