Monday, 29 April 2013

Commodification of Life

It is a harsh fact that today life  is subject to commodification and it is affected by market forces to an extent never before achievable. Every aspect of our lives is subject to an assault of offers, trade ins and makeovers guaranteed to change our lives for ever! It is not surprising therefore if we are all being brainwashed by the propaganda techniques adopted by manufacturers and advertisers. Amazingly, even some of the most private and intimate aspects of our lives are subject to commodification.
Looking at some of the advertisements that keep appearing in the print  as well as the electronic media are those that attempt to make “love” a commodity. Remember that advertisement that goes by that popular James Bond Movie Jingle, “Diamonds are Forever”? Well, if you really love her then why don’t you give her a Diamond engagement ring? The idea is that your love for her will not let you baulk at the prospect of spending so much on a Diamond ring.  Your love for her will provide an opportunity to the Jewellery house to sell one of its Diamonds. It is surprising how easy it is to sell things to a lovelorn couple. Some of the object in the market are objects of desire for the couple in romance and these include Chocolates, Wine, Champagnes, and perhaps clothing lingerie et al ! There are many objects that are exchanged during courtship, and these might include teddy bears, toys, lighters, decoration pieces, the list of objects is simply mind boggling! Romance definitely sells like hot cakes, and manufacturers and retailers are out for a killing!
If you were not surprised so much about the commodification of love, then how about considering the commodification of Body-Parts? Surprised? No, I guess by now you’d be beyond surprise! With black market prices of body parts going up, we have heard about cases involving illegal trade in body organs. Today, there is a price  on each body part which  might surprise you the most. So much for Kidneys, so much for a liver, and so much for a heart! Well this is a bit discreetly done, although we are aware of this illicit organ trade.
With the summer vacations approaching, timeshare groups are fast selling timeshare options on different holiday resorts. These offers come with various attractive gift options such as an LCD/LED colour T.V. or whatever. One common gimmick adopted by marketers of timeshare groups is to call you up and tell you that you have won a gift. They call you, pamper you for the whole day, extol the virtues of their services, and by the end of the day you are so beholden of the lavish treatment and that attractive hamper that you end up signing a cheque. Enter the commodification of Vacations!
Nothing sells like the so called,”Opium of the Masses”- religion, of course! It wouldn’t be very wrong to say that your relationship with your maker is no longer personal and private. Take for example the numerous religious objects for sale both on T.V. and the print media. Advertisements selling these objects target your religious sentiments and faith. A crystal pyramid guaranteed to bring peace into your house, the Feng Shui coins guaranteed to bring you wealth, the Turkish Evil-Eye symbol guaranteed to ward off the evil eye are some of the objects that are forced upon you. Include to this, the numerous books on spirituality, and the numerous compact discs containing hymns and prayers, all promising you the world! Nothing sells like religion, and yes you got it, Religion is one of the most commoditised aspects of our lives! So next time you go to Church or the temple or perhaps even watch your favourite spiritual leader, make sure you are not a target of commodification and perhaps getting bombarded by propaganda!
After religion, Education is one of the most commoditised aspects of our lives. Every parent wants his child to have a successful career in life, and every student wants to land up a job which would give him or her monetary gain, popularity and of course satisfaction. Parents and their children become targets of advertisements and propaganda early in the child’s life. On a visit to the International Book Fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi, I was accosted by a sweet talking executive of a publishing house that prepared study material guaranteed to  improve the intelligence of a child. I was not convinced, but then had to waste a lot of time talking to this person who claimed so much about the “brain boosting” techniques of her package! Schools claim to give your child an all round development, some promise the world and blatantly misuse some of the quotations by famous personalities and great thinkers. When the child comes to Grade Eleven, he and his parents become the targets of the numerous coaching institutes that display photographs of   some of their toppers who got selected to Engineering, or Medicine courses in some of the prestigious institutions of the country. In some of the rural areas of India there is a mushrooming of  institutes which promise  to train the learner to speak English fluently in forty-five days only. To sweeten the offer further, the learner can choose between an American or a British accent. Whether the learner is really able to speak English fluently in forty five days is however highly suspect. The craze for learning spoken English is however so great that these institutes are doing brisk business duping unwary customers at will! No wonder Education is a booming market in India and even elsewhere in the world!
If the purchase of the Diamond Engagement ring was not enough, think of what happens after  engagement-well you have marriage on the cards. And then of course, nothing sells than marriage. For most, marriage is a grand occasion and it involves numerous agencies. The Wedding planner has to be paid a large amount so that he or she can decorate the venue and have a say in the type of clothes to be worn on the occasion. Then you have the caterers, the venue, the jeweller, the photographer, and the list goes on and on! It is mind boggling how commodification affects our lives to such an extent! Propaganda techniques, market forces and social trends have meant that our lives are no longer our own, sacrosanct and personal!
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