Sunday, December 12, 2004
The Rebel Sell
What does Fight Club have to do with Updike’s Rabbit, Run? Our fearless publisher is otherwise occupied at present, but he points us to a worthwhile read from Canada’s This Magazine. In “The Rebel Sell,” authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter (their book is currently available only in Canada) suggest that movies like Fight Club are not so anti-consumerist as they would have you believe. They draw on the ideas of Thomas Frank: “So here is Frank’s claim, simply put: books like No Logo, magazines like Adbusters, and movies like American Beauty do not undermine consumerism; they reinforce it. . . . What American Beauty illustrates, with extraordinary clarity, is that rebelling against mass society is not the same thing as rebelling against consumer society.” The rebel consumer is just as much a competitive consumer as the average Bobo or Yuppie. It’s all about distinction, and it’s why anti-advertising made “Volvo the car of choice for an entire generation of leftist academics.”
This is a compelling and revealing piece. One caveat: the distinction necessary when speaking of Nietszche seems equally necessary with Heath and Potter: superb description. Seriously questionable prescription. Read for yourself.