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Commodity Fetishism

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Qian Jun Liu

on 12 October 2012

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Transcript of Commodity Fetishism

Qian Jun Liu 998029084 Commodity Fetishism When asked this, the first thing that comes to many minds is the sexually charged advertisements we see nowadays. What is Commodity Fetishism? In this presentation we shall look at the idea of commodity fetishism and how it applies to both In Style and People magazine, as well as how the organization itself is expressed through the magazines. Media Lab 1:
Marxist Analysis Let us look first at people magazine.
Sure this piece gave advice, but it was by far the cleanest, and most worded in the magazine, other than the discount page. Well what about the articles in the magazines, they focus on advice! Don't they? As stated earlier, In Style writes more about the people than People Magazine does, they have included articles that look at charity, decorating, and even included recipes. What about the writing of the articles? The magazines both are heavily involved with commodity fetishism, however this is due in most part to the conventions of the magazines themselves. so, to what extent is commodity fetishism expressed in the magazines? This assumption is not completely wrong, the fetishism refers to Karl Marx's theory of the need for humans to fetishize money and wealth. How humans long for the money and the benefits it provides. They then in turn seek ways in which to get more money. (Marx, 1978) So then what does commodity fetishism refer to? Similar to Marx's view, Commodity Fetishism refers to the wanting of consumer goods, and the perceived lifestyle or status that it brings. We will look at how they emphasize this fetishism for consumer goods to make you perceive the need to buy these products, and the implied benefits given. Finally, we will analyze the degree to which the two organizations writing style are associated with commodity fetishist influences. But that's a movie! Movies over-exaggerate everything! You may ask, so what? Why should understanding commodity fetishism be so important? There are several reasons why, firstly people have been swayed heavily from many advertisements that have preyed off of commodity fetishist principles, which has led to many changes in society, For instance The Confessions of a Shopaholic. For Example, this ad right here. Notice how she is dressed, but also notice the attention she gains from wearing this clothing. Men long for her. This is what usually comes to mind when thinking of commodity fetishism. Basically, a literal take on consumers or people being drawn to a commodity through sex We will closely analyze what the writing itself is like, how it influences people and what the differences in the magazines conventions are based on the layout, number of advertisements and the subjects of the articles. This trailer perfectly embodies the effects of commodity fetishism in everyday media. The protagonist of this film is influenced from a young age with the ideals of the women shopping with their "magic cards". She sees these women lead a magnificent lifestyle with their clothing, shoes and so on. Even later in the trailer where she describes the feeling she gets when she sees a shop, and the ferocity in which she fought for the Gucci boots, also the monologue in the beginning where she describes the brand of each item she is wearing, all this suggests she does this to lead the lifestyle that was influenced onto her at a young age. Yes, movies do tend to over-exaggerate things, however there are many types of media that aim to sway a person to purchase something to attain a certain lifestyle. For example: Taken from October 2011 People magazine, page 76 This piece shows you how to dress like Kourtney Kardashian! With everything under $100! So cheap right? And if you look closer, those $54.90 shorts are actually 20% off! What a steal! To purchase a whole outfit from this piece, with the $99 dress, the $16 bangle, $39.99 clutch, and the $59 pumps, it is certainly not under $100, but that is the price to pay to dress like a celebrity! This undoubtedly seems ludicrous to many, but this piece gives you a guide to dress like Kourtney Kardashian. Why would you want to dress like her? Similiar to the protagonist in The Confessions of a Shopaholic, to lead the lifestyle that Kourtney Kardashian leads, or at least to look as if you do. People are so drawn to lead the lifestyle of the rich and famous that they are willing to relinquish hundreds of dollars on a dress, or a pair of shoes. To frame it as Marx would, they want to attain the status of those of the bourgeois class, and hope to do so through the items that they wear or use. The author of this piece knew this, perhaps wishes to attain this status them self. This piece preys on this wanting, and knows that it is heavily present in the media. Regardless of appearance, the article itself is based solely on products and trends, both of which are commodity fetishism related. Even the piece at the very back, which has no pictures, is focused on getting you to shop more, it is the discount page, where they show you the items that have been discounted for your convenience. There aren't any articles that doesn't involve a product, from hair, to clothes, to jewelry, this magazine focuses primarily on commodities. What about In Style, surely that is the same, it is after all named "In Style" a name that suggests a heavy commodity driven organization. This assumption is true! But, surprisingly, not to the extent of which People magazine has reached. In Style has many articles that discuss things other than commodities, not to say that they are not sprinkled into the piece, because it is, it's just not the focus of the article. For instance, this Uma Therman article The article looks at how Uma lives her life, what her habits are, her opinions on things that have become public in her past, her children, and her history. At the end, it provides some of the dresses she has worn in the past, with the design information, as well as pictures taken to accompany the article itself. It talks about HER as a person, and not as the commodities she surrounds herself with. For a magazine called people, they sure don't focus on many people! Taken from In Style September 2008 magazine Taken from People October 2011 magazine Sadly, this isn't even an article! this is an advertisement, however the ad itself tries to trick you into believing it was an article from People, if not for the "ADVERTISEMENT" at the top, it could be passed off easily without anyone noticing. An article from people looks more like In Style also displays a sense of professionalism in the way they write, with a font that is maintained throughout the whole magazine, and bolding when needed. People on the other hand relies heavily on different types of font, arrows, highlighting and pictures. It looks very unprofessional, busy and as if it targets specifically young women. What about the layout of the magazine? The layout for both magazines are very similar, they both place advertisements between each piece in the magazine, some two pages large, or on the side. One of the major differences between the two magazines is that since In Style had articles, the layout differed in where they put them. Similar to people, In Style had tips and advice for beauty and fashion at the forefront, but pushed the articles that focused on other things to the back of the magazine, with the only charity piece on the second to last page The convention most appropriate to People magazine, or rather to fashion magazines in general is the "News as Mystery". This convention seeks to identify key characters i.e who wore it right? A or B?; search for criminal violations i.e. stripes with spots? fashion don't!; confronting the wrongdoer for their misdeeds i.e publicly acknowledging their fashion crimes through the articles; and finally assurance that they have been brought to justice, basically a close watch is kept on their clothing (Ott & Mack, 2010). In Style on the other hand is a mix of conventions, similar to People, they use the framework, "News as Mystery" however they also use the "News as arbitrarian" framework as well, although there are significantly less articles that do this, it can be found in the interview pieces, that give you the words from the interviewee, without opinions to sway you or to drive you to buy something (Ott & Mack, 2010). Although both magazines are owned by the same corporation, they both have different styles. It can be easy to say that one is more focused on commodity fetishist principles, however commodity fetishism can be found in almost all media today, this presentation even, I have spoken about two magazines, a movie, and will cite two books later on. In any tv show, you will see the apple logo, alienware logo, coca cola logo and so on. We undoubtedly live in a heavily marketized society where covert advertisements are the norm, and unless they have been pointed out to us, will go un-noticed. To conclude, the two magazines have heavy commodity fetishism influences in them, throughout the articles as well as in the ad space in general, they both use a similar writing convention however, in terms of professionalism and variety of content In Style outweighs People. Bibliography
Marx, K. (1978). The Marx-Engels Reader. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.
Ott, B.L. Mack, R.L. (2010). Critical Media Studies An Introduction. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. p 65
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