Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Material Girl Living in a Material World.

Driving in the car yesterday I heard Madonna's Material Girl on the radio during an 80s playback hour. It is such a wonderfully straightforward and uncomplicated song. It's refreshing to listen to it in the context of modern pop music that is so convoluted and messy with the layers upon layers of sounds and samples, beats and lyrics. (I'm thinking of modern pop icon Lady Gaga.) And while I was singing along unabashedly to the chorus I thought to myself that I was somehow feeling okay if not even good about proclaiming that "we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl." I wondered what that was about...

Ideologically I'm opposed to the tenets of consumerism. I'm appalled by how the pervasive the consumerist mindset is in this society and how it gives people a delusional sense of purpose. Consumerism cultivates within us a notion that perpetual happiness is the ideal and that happiness can be gained by the acquisition of material goods. I can't believe this. Stuff is just stuff, and I go further even to reject the notion that perpetual happiness is not a viable or meaningful purpose in life.

Ideology aside I recognize and appreciate how consumerist ideals can be a driving force that leads people to create. Money is a concrete incentive that pulls people into a field and keeps them there. I truly think that all the creative fields of design - fashion, furniture, graphic, etc. - has benefited from the burgeoning of consumerism. That isn't to say that it also hasn't suffered as well.

Anyway, back to the "material girl"...

I thought to myself that Madonna's Material Girl is much like an anthem for the consumerist age of the 80s in America, and while the lyrics advocate the valuation of materialistic gains as a top priority, which I personally don't advocate at all, I can't help but respect the "material girl" that knows herself and the context in which she exists and isn't afraid to say it like it is.

Perhaps I'm giving the "material girl" too much credit, but in my ideation of the quintessential material girl she is as self-aware as any person can feasibly be. She knows her strengths. She knows her weaknesses. Most importantly she knows what she believes.

Although, honestly, I don't think we'd get along.

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