Author : Harshita Hiya
So what is it you feel like doing, when you can’t afford that latest cellphone on TV, that everyone around you is raving about?
In December 2015, Seattle police was after a man responsible for the murder of his niece over a pair of Michael Jordan Sneakers. Si Phu shot his 14 year old niece when she refused to part with her sneakers on his demand.
In October 2007, 16 year old Daniel Petric shot both of his parents, killing his mother and injuring his father, for not allowing him to buy and play the popular Xbox game, Halo 3.
These incidents, although hard to believe, are real, and they bring to light a disease that currently plagues the whole world, materialism and its vitriolic aspect is talked about quite often, but taken too lightly.
Conversations today are riddled with mentions of multi national brands and chains. No one minds shelling out 3000 bucks for a pair of Levi’s, but everyone thinks twice before parting with even half of that sum for something without a label.
‘Fight Club’ and ‘American Psycho’- two movies widely acknowledged as cult favourites,despite having very different stories, deal with the same issue at their core- the repercussions of a materialistic society.
All of us remember Tyler Durden and his iconic lines-” The things we used to own, now own us”, and “Working jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need to impress people we don’t like” ( Sincere apologies for breaking the first rule of fight club).
Caught in the monotony of a corporate job and frustrated with the mindlessness of the rat race to buy…say, the best sofa, or the best TV set, he fights back by giving birth to an alternate persona. An alternate persona which, while going on to mouth some of the most widely quoted lines in mainstream cinema, is a harbinger of anarchy and violence.
He begins the aptly named ‘Project Mayhem’, a group of people similarly motivated, who vandalize and sabotage all, that stands for consumerism.
Patrick Bateman of American Psycho is a different story altogether. Narcissistic to the T, he, unlike Tyler, allows himself to be consumed by that rat race, and boy, does he enjoy it! So much, so that for him, it isn’t a big deal to kill a rival over a better business card. A man who doesn’t normally like a hair out of its place on his well groomed head, shows how superficially attractive, and intrinsically repulsive materialism really is when in a psychotic frenzy he gives Paul a grisly, bloody death.
These two movies, which came out one year after the other, both show a picture of the consequences of materialism, which though different from each other, are equally apalling. It won’t be a lie to say that many Patrick Batemans now walk amongst us, as is evident from the real life incidents cited in the beginning, and God knows how many Tylers are on the brink of breaking down and resorting to violence and mayhem.
So what is it you feel like doing, when you can’t afford that cellphone on TV, that everyone around you is raving about?
Do you save up for it, do you secretly dream of breaking the one your friend owns, or do you feel like tearing out every poster, and vandalizing every lamp post it’s advertised on?
It is a disease alright, but one disguised as an ego boosting joyride.
One that makes us feel better than the rest of the world, just because we own an expensive car, or the latest video game.
One that incapacitates morality and compassion. And no one wants the cure.