Death by Shoppers -- Haunted by Wal-Mart
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No wonder many marketers insist on using erotic imagery in their ads. Think Calvin Klein or Abercrombie & Fitch -- are you buying the perfume or the cleavage, the hip-hugger or the bulging crotch? Leafing through a Macy's brochure or a Crate and Barrel catalog, therefore, is just like perusing Hustler or Playboy (which, by the way, I get just for the articles). It's consumer porn, and we've all indulged in it innocently enough, in fact, from a very early age.
Remember when as kids we were introduced to the pleasures of window-shopping? We often couldn't really afford the stuff we ogled, but just imagining having it brought delight. Now science proves that those memorable family outings downtown were essentially peep shows, done right out in the open with our parents by our side, and Santa and the baby Jesus in the display windows.
Such mental conditioning, in its myriad forms, has ceaselessly taken place in every modern society from cradle to grave, to the point that countless human beings have begun to define themselves by their ability to shop for less. Brought to an extreme, this consumer pathology led straight to the tragedy at Wal-Mart. To paraphrase the late Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory, working was what we were all about as a nation, shopping is what we have become. Our total credit card debt now amounts to $915 billion.
Perhaps we need a big public health campaign to start curbing uncontrolled shopping ads on television, an maybe even rehab for shopaholics and inveterate impulse buyers. And we may need it quick. Before they kill again.