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Commodity Fetishism


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#1 Maria

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 04:23 PM

Can that idea be applied to the gadgets Mr Jobs created?
Aren´t people worshipping, idolatring him and his creations too much?

There are a lot of news about the bad conditions workers in China are exposed related to producing on time the lovely fetish the rest of the world are longing for. But nothing of this is news. Now he is dead, rip and all that but maybe it´s time now to think about the side effects of our fetishes.


#2 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 12:37 AM

Yeah I love my Mac.

So Maria do you go over every object you buy to find out exactly how it was made? where? and by whom?..a fine tooth comb to detect any and every last piece of exploitation it may have involved being produced in the capitalist world.

We're all in the sht. It's silly to single out one particular product.

And no people don't worship him..they make a joke of it..it's irony. Yeah?

Mac owners don't worship anybody..that's the whole point.

And Macs are simply the best. (Humour alert). Except they really are (another humour alert) Except they really really are. (No humour alert this time..this is serious).

#3 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 06:50 AM

Well, when I read Maria's post, I assumed she was using Jobs and Apple as examples. Commodity fetishism as a really good term for it. And I think you are right, by the was Maria. Though of course the irony - or hypocrisy - is that I am typing this on an iPad.
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#4 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 07:44 AM

Well I don't get it. I thought everyone knew that fetishisation is the basis of most of what we buy that isn't essential.

Why pick on Apple Mac. Also the joke is that no-one worships or did Steve Jobs..apart from a few geeks the mass media like to make a stereo type of.

Nearly all creative people use Macs because they traditionally designed specifically for that area..also the most intuitive OS the OSX series..Unix based and crashes about once a year. Half the music that gets written will be on a Mac. My best friend an artist who does so much work of a political radical nature..couldn't do it without a Mac.and yes she also loves the look of it..as do I.

If people don't get the irony to do with the Steve Jobs thing..because people who choose Macs do so as much for the OS as the look..and yeah what's so bad about enjoying aesthetics..people are happy to buy paintings and any sort of art.

I just don't understand why Apple Mac is being selected.

#5 Mr. Dreadful

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:11 AM

Because it's a matter currently in the public eye and therefore is a useful example.

I do scrutinise a lot of the products I buy for where they're made and what's in them... for example I don't buy any foods with palm oil in if I can help it and if something's Made In China I am automatically suspicious but don't immediately boycott it because I know that not all Chinese factories are sweatshop hellholes and trying to trace a particular part of something to a particular factory to check conditions there is not something I have the knowledge or time to do.

To me the iPhad (and Apple products in general) represents a massive triumph of capitalism over individualism, almost everyone who can afford one seems to have one and they're even becoming ubiquitous on television. Yet it is still insisted that they are some kind of edgy, creative thing rather than a fashion accessory. All Macs are created equal and then stay equal until such times as you buy a new one, the same cannot be said of PCs which have a wide range of specs and can be easily upgraded. <canofworms>

(Yes, I am aware that there are people who do use Macs to be edgy and creative and didn't even consider fashion when they forked out some silly amount of monet* for it but, really, how many people can honestly say the Mac allows them to do anything a PC can't except say "I have a Mac, look how cool I am"?)

(Also, I am aware that as an iPod owner I am one of the very people I'm railling against but that is the only Apple product I'm likely to own although the fact there is portable guitar amp/effect modelling on the iPhad does make it sooooo tempting... I normally dislike digital modelling but this has little pictures of the things it's modelling! Eeeee!)

*This typo left here on purpose because it amused me.
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#6 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:18 AM

>Because it's a matter currently in the public eye and therefore is a useful example.<

Well it annoys me ..because I'm sick of being stereotyped by the media..as are other apple mac owners. The idea that we worship Steve Jobs is too laughable to be true.

Also I find some of this contempt for nice objects to own and take pleasure from in a capitalist society that we are all immersed in from birth, quite puritanical.

As I made clear they work best for my needs *and* I love the aesthetic. I'm similar about cars. Even if I wasn't using a Mac for creativity..not much of late to be honest, I'd *still* buy one. It can give you confidence to own one or two really desirable objects.

And like I say fetishisation is what makes the capitalist world work,. It underpins everything. We know that..so once again why suddenly start a thread about this particular product?

It does annoy me as well because I am one of the least acquisitive people for buying stuff. I have one or two areas though where I want the best and most aesthetic. Computers are one.

#7 Mr. Dreadful

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 11:32 AM

But Macs aren't the best. They're just as clunky and unfriendly and vulnerable and unstable as PCs, with the added disadvantage that the hardware peripherals are not really upgradable. The only reason we've not heard much about it is that up 'til recently Macs were not popular enough to warrant much mainstream media coverage when something went badly wrong.

I'm not saying PCs are the best either. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that really Macs and PCs are about the same... the only real, tangible differences being the boxes they come in and the stereotype associated with their users.
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#8 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 11:47 AM

They *are* the best.

They crash once in a blue moon. You don't have to waste money on firewall and anti virus. You never have to bother with patches. The OS is so intuitive, simple and friendly compared to Windows. They look great and always have.

You feel proud to be a Mac owner. The word Mac is a much nicer word that PC. (For those of us with a thing about words and language that's important.)

If I'm spending a fair amount of time on a computer I want something I can form a good relationship with that looks the way I'd design something..and something I've trusted for years.

Like I made sure I bought a top notch bed mattress and duvet..My mattress has written on it..'Hand crafted..and Appointment to HM Queen' I've had it for 20 years and do all that turning stuff every so often. I never had any more back or neck problems. It just feels nice and cosy and protective.

Emotion is very important to do with some objects. It's about forming a relationship with them. Same as cars.

That's the honest truth for a lot of people. They won't talk about stuff like making a relationship with an object..for fear of seeming silly. But I'm sure its that for lots of people.

I'll never cheat on my Mac ;-)

#9 Mr. Dreadful

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 12:12 PM


They crash once in a blue moon. You don't have to waste money on firewall and anti virus. You never have to bother with patches. The OS is so intuitive, simple and friendly compared to Windows. They look great and always have.


You don't have to waste money on firewall and anti-virus on PCs either, there's some fantastic stuff out there that's totally free. And Macs do need to be patched, they just don't crow about it like PCs do (which I admit is annoying when you're in the middle of something and the PC suddenly pops up and says "O hai! I've done a great big patch and you need to restart now!"). And, well, I find Windows perfectly intuitive...

For me the pride comes not from owning the 'right' brand but from owning the right tool. For me PCs are the right tool and I've yet to encounter a pro-Mac argument that'll persuade me otherwise. Prettiness (and I will not deny that Macs are pretty) just don't cut it.
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#10 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 01:08 PM

Surely if it was just about Macs, then Jobs would be no more interesting than Linus Torvald.

"Who is Linus Torvald?" you ask.

The guy who created Linux, the open source OS. Which is, arguably massively like humungously cooler than either Windows or Mac OS: http://fossmaniac.hu...on-myths-busted

The reason that everyone is eulogising Jobs right now is in their pocket, clipped to their lapel, helping them subscribe to radio and independently produced podcasts, playing their music, amusing them on the train, helping them talk to their friends.

So Effers, you are missing the point by talking about Macs, they are SO 20th Century, baby. As Mr D rightly said, the reason people are reacting to the death of Jobs is because of the iPhads.

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#11 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 01:15 PM

Oh, and this is interesting, if you like this sort of thing. Which I do: http://www.w3schools...browsers_os.asp
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#12 Mr. Dreadful

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 01:15 PM

Ooh yeah, Linux... thinking of sticking that on t'desktop.
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#13 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 02:54 PM

>So Effers, you are missing the point by talking about Macs,<

How am I missing the point?

I've repeatedly said that the enjoyment of the aesthetic of the desirable object, (fetishisation, as Maria calls it), is as important to me as its functionality. I have no interest in 4G mobiles or iPads. But if I suddenly do..which I may well do..it'll be a iPhone for me and an iPad. And I shall revel in the fetishisation.

And as I say we're all in the sht in terms of people being exploited through capitalism..so why not at least indulge yourself in stuff you can really enjoy fetishising about.

#14 Maria

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:00 PM

Hi Effers,
It´s not being puritanical. Actually, the attitude of the fetishist is quite Calvinistic: “I´ve got my i-thingy, and I don´t care about exploitation. I belong to The Chosen ones, that is, to the civilized, first world. The rest can suck it up. It´s the law of the fittest, blah, blah…”

This thread is not to blame anyone who have an i-con. But the question is that if you search worker´s rights in China in relation with Apple the links are quite meaningful. (try the search in The Guardian) or about the disposal of computers garbage in the third world, in this case it´s not only Apple.
And yes, there´s also a bit of tiredness of so much corny sentimentalism for a corporation which is not fair at all with the environment nor with their workers
.
On the other hand, commodity fetishism it´s a marxist term and I´d like to know more about that idea. I only have a slight intuition of it.

#15 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:03 PM

So Maria you haven't answered my question to do with every time you buy something, you go over all the possibilities of exploitation that it may involve before you buy?

#16 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:10 PM

>It´s not being puritanical. Actually, the attitude of the fetishist is quite Calvinistic: “I´ve got my i-thingy, and I don´t care about exploitation. I belong to The Chosen ones, that is, to the civilized, first world. The rest can suck it up. It´s the law of the fittest, blah, blah…”<

That's a bizarre thing to say. I'm a fetishist and don't think any of those things. In fact the day before yesterday I was helping a friend finish off a sound piece to be played to people on the Tate boat which highlights BPs sponsorship of the Tate and arts in general. So what are you *doing* about spreading the word?

It's so silly when people have such a black and white attitude to people and seek to pigeon hole. The people I know are a whole lot more complicated than simple rules about people...often full of contradiction. Things political theorists never seem to quite get.

#17 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:10 PM

On the other hand, commodity fetishism it´s a marxist term and I´d like to know more about that idea. I only have a slight intuition of it.


In which case Ed the Bonobo / Not the Monkey is your chimp, Maria. Ask him about it.
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#18 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:15 PM

Effers, back down a bit. Maria is speaking in a second language. 2/3rds of the people I work with are in the same boat, and I've learned it makes people seem a bit in-your-face, they can sound more direct than they intend. And English culture is surprisingly indirect and allusive. (We say someone's idea is "interesting" when we mean "something I am going to ignore for the time being" for example).

Maria said:


maybe it´s time now to think about the side effects of our fetishes.


".... maybe ... etc"

She wasn't getting at anyone, just floating an idea. An unpalatable idea, because there's some truth in it, but an idea nonethelesss.

Or so I assume - Maria, if I am wrong, please say so.

Ben
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#19 Maria

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:16 PM

I hope Ed bites the bail the moment he sees the title of this convo. I was thinking of him when I wrote it. <smile>

#20 Mrs Zen

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:17 PM

Heh. If not, he can be pointed in its direction.
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#21 Maria

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:18 PM

What Mrs Zen says. I was generalising about fetishists.

#22 Maria

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 03:19 PM

:G11:

#23 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 04:50 PM

I've just been sat in the garden watching Stripey mucking about. I think that cat maybe has sexual identity contradictions. She's defo female..you can see..but she's started doing that marking her territory thing that tom cats do..<snork>

Oh yeah so I got to thinking about things you can buy that I have a real fetish for. And alloy wheels for cars is a big one for me. I spend a lot of time looking at them on parked cars..all the various patterns..and also how they look spinning when a car is going past.

My plan is to get another car..but only if I'm confident about driving again. I had thought to stray from my brand which is Volkwagen..but I'm back again to her now..and it'll be a Polo not a Golf. And it'll be shadow blue metallic and not red.

The alloys that come as standard aren't that exciting. But I'll go for that and then get something really fetishistic from Wolfrace..a famous British company for alloy designs of 40 years. They have some some brilliant sexy alloys.

I'll probably get second hand on ebay though.

http://www.wolfrace.co.uk/

#24 Maria

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 05:10 PM

You see, the problem with this whole economic situation is that in order to keep afloat the system we are in, people need to consume. Cars, phones, whatever, and most important, whether they need them or not. So we need an urge, a need to buy and keeps the engine working. And here comes the fetishism idea.
I see people buying at weekends as others go to church. It´s a ritual, is like saying, look I´m squeezed at work but I earn money to buy what -_I WANT_ I feel redeemed from working so much if I have this and that thingy. They are cool, I´m not a loser, I´ve got money...
Money is another fetish?

As Effers has said many times, I´m just exploring ideas through debate. So , critisize my words which reprsent ideas I want to make clearer.

#25 Mr. Dreadful

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 05:14 PM

If we're expanding beyond 'puters it's old Peavey amplifiers for me. Weigh a ton, really sturdy, unfairly dismissed by those who think Marshall and Orange are the only good brands. I have one that I could simply never push into full overdrive because it's so powerful my ears would fail before the power valves started having to hard. Bliss.
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#26 Effers

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:19 PM

I haven't bought any new clothes in about 6 months..and then just some cheap rubbish from Sainsburys. Nothing for the flat in several years...

Extras in the last month I bought an SAS tunnel, pegs and guys, cold weather sleeping bag, Go Cat for Stripey, cheap mobile..my first ever..still haven't put in the sim card..and worked out what my number is or how to top up..though friends have tried to explain. Think that's it.

Really all I spend on is bills, food, drink. Don't even buy books now..as concentration shot.



Priority fetish areas:- Stereo system. Very expensive valve amp, speakers, CD player and tuner.

Computer with external sound card.

Video camera

Car...if that becomes possible again..though Ollie from next door is still trying to persuade me to get a scooter.




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