Are you prepared for a possible apocalypse? No not spiritually, but fiscally, or most importantly physically. Prepare for the worst, right?
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy and the many blizzards of 2015, my household contents include a hand crank radio, gallons of clean water, Jesus candles, and a substantial first aid kit. While procuring the first aid kit, I became readily aware of the vast survival market capitalizing on the fear and terror surrounding catastrophes. It is no wonder with today's news savvy society, it is only a matter of time before Fox News makes their own subscriber survival kit. God only knows what that look like, complete with a Bible and handgun.
Recently while out to dinner with friends, two very dear friends admitted to catastrophism. This fear of a catastrophe is commonplace in mainstream culture. Whether watching the local news or the Walking Dead, notions of the world's demise surround us. Although this is nothing new, especially seeing nuclear fallout signs walking down 16th Street in Manhattan, one can't but help think of their catastrophe contingency plan?
Apparently people enjoy being entertained by the fear of the world ending, while many are also captivated 24hr news channels reporting it live. As for my plan; I'd bike or walk from Brooklyn to Richmond Virginia to meet up with my family. Google maps says it would only take 37 hours on bike and 113 hours walking.
It is this thought of "what if" where popular and material culture capitlize. You have television and movies, along with products. The products are the most captivating. So while looking for the ideal first aid kit, I also discovered that Costco sells a 1 year supply of food for 4 people marketed at $3,499.00. If you think of it, thats a hell of a lot cheaper than feeding a family of 4 for a year. It is curious that people haven't taken up this for a daily use. This product is advertised as “With over 5,000 servings and many foods with a shelf life of up to 25 years, this package will give you variety, nutrition, and peace of mind."
While there are a million different variation on meal replacements, but for a mere $45,000 you can buy you very own fallout shelter. Once again it's not surprising people are buying these instead of homes. But if you're looking for a more economical route, buying a bunch of school buses like Bruce Beach of Horning Mills Ontario. Simply embed them into the earth and cover with cement. Voila, DIY shelter of your own like Ark Two Shelter. Now why anyone would drop a nuclear bomb on bum fuck Horning Mills beats me. Also clever name Mr. Beach.
The real question is whether or not a lifetime supply of food and a bomb shelter will actually provide you with peace at mind. Will you be able to rest better at night knowing you have food and shelter? Or will you fears continue to manifest such as the shelter properly sealed or is your food contaminated? Will your family turn on your or can you finally kick back and relax, ready for the apocalypse and fallout shelter selfies?
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.