My mother and father met one summer while deep sea fishing. He drove the boat, while she caught the fish. Their love was consummated when my mother decided to keep the fish and my father had to beat it with a baseball bat. The fish's sacrifice was followed by bats of revelry and remorse amid a smokescreen of debauchery involving heavy drinking and skinny dipping, ending with bikini tops hanging from the mast. Obviously this wasn't your ordinary fish, but a trophy sized White Marlin that still hangs in my mother's garage today. It is by far one of my greatest possession.
Others may have a Big Mouth Billy Bass hanging in their garage. Why you may ask? First and foremost it is a novelty gift that nobody actually wants but somehow gets. Basically it is a plastic singing fish, who groves to the tune of Don't Worry Be Happy and Take Me Down To the River. In other words it solidifies the American stereotype of being loud and annoying, along with the American Dream to innovate ridiculous money making schemes. Which is why following Billy was Buck the Animated Trophy is a mounted fake deer who sings Sweet Home Alabama. Once again this object puts in concrete America's fascination with guns and further proliferates the National Rifle Association's right to bear arms. Sure it isn't a real deer, but to a child, what is the difference.
It's as if you can't go into a bar these days without seeing some taxidermy animal on the wall. It's like the Smithsonian or Natural History Museum meets Cheers. Now I'm not complaining but my only wish is that these animals could talk, like the one's in George Harrison's Got My Mind Set On You video. What would they tell? Would they take the voice of the hunter or the prey? Say the moment when they realized it was all over, taking their last breath? Or the moment they extinguished something's life, watching it's last breath? Would excitement, anxiety, dry mouth, beads of sweat, and adrenalin racing through their veins? Would they be nostalgic or nauseous? Well one thing is for certain, nobody ever felt that way about opening up a Big Mouth Billy Bass or Buck the Animated Trophy.
100 Objects of Popular and Material Culture is an blog exploring the manifestations of human consumption and commodity-ization. The purpose of this experiment is to explore material and popular culture in contemporary society by using objects and concepts to prompt wider questions and reflections. So by emulating The British Museum's and Neil MacGregor's format of A History of the World in 100 Objects I plan to satirically analyze and reinterpreted 100 material culture objects over the course of 2014. Material Culture is the study of our culture's consumption of stuff; namely the manifestation of culture through material productions where people's perceptions of objects is socially and culturally dependent. With this, objects reflect conscious and unconscious beliefs on the the individuals who fabricated, purchased, or used them, and by extension the society where they live. So examining materiality, cultural truths and societal assumptions may be discovered. As anthropologist Arjun Appaduai states "in any society the individual is often caught between the cultural structure of commodity-ization and his own personal attempts to bring a value and order to the universe of things." Objects and commodities make up a much larger symbolic system consisting of want and need, socio-economic status, fashion, etc. Often times form follows function whether the commodity, market, and or consumer forever evolve around one-another. Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu's theories of capital flow full circle; where regardless if you are a minimalist or a hoarder the world is made up of things and everyone will leave their footprint on the earth. So by humorously analyzing marketed objects and concepts, hopefully this blog will provide further incite into ideas of over-consumption, a disposable society, consumerism vs. anti-consumers, planned obsolescence vs. sustainability, as well as the greater good of mankind and future generations.