Columbus killed more Indians than Hitler did Jews, but on his birthday you get sales on shoes — The Goats
What at first might seem mundane subject matter is made illuminating and interesting by Thomas Hine’s engaging narrative, personal and historical examples, and downright deep digging. Excavating our culture of consumption from the perspectives of power, responsibility, discovery, self-expression, insecurity, attention, belonging, celebration, and convenience, Hine unearths the desires and rituals that have made us all shoppers in one sense or another. In the spirit of the quote above, I Want That! (HarperCollins) points out the fact that we “mix up reverence with consumption.” Our every holiday is tied to purchases and a subsequent sale of some sort.
Are women born to shop? Do today’s shoppers truly have choices? Why do we buy what we buy? All of these questions and more are answered and explained in a free-for-all spree of analysis of what Hine calls the ‘buyosphere.’ “The buyosphere,” he writes, “is both a set of shopping opportunities and a state of mind. It encompasses the shopping streets of the city, the mall, the supermarket, the home shopping channels, advertisements, and the Internet.” Comparing the shopping experience of a Persian bazaar to the non-experience of shopping at Wal-Mart, as well as how humans have moved from hunting/gathering to sharing their surpluses through marketplaces, Hine shows just how far the story of consumption has come throughout history. He even highlights the postmodern aspect of our current ubiquitous marketplace, writing, “There are no fixed identities in the buyosphere.”
Shopping is something we all do with little thought as to why or how. As Hine writes, “Whether you are a buyer or a seller, when you are in the market, you’re a part of the performance. You’re looking. You’re learning. You’re alive.” I Want That! will make you rethink your purchasing habits and why you want to buy what you buy.
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.