"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." -Paulo Friere

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brave New World and "The Story of Stuff"

Hey Seniors--

Ok, just one more Brave New World post. I love this video, "The Story of Stuff," and it seems very relevant to all of Huxley's predictions. So...as your second (or is this the third?) website homework, please watch the video (it's less than half an hour) by noon on Saturday. In your comments below, tell me your opinion of this video, and make one connection to Brave New World.


  1. Oooh! I believe the English Honors students this year have already watched The Story of Stuff in 10th grade. Everytime I watch it, though, I get a major smack in the face. We ARE living in this cycle driven by consummerism and we ARE suffering because of it. Like in Brave New World, we've become more and more focused on material, surface, physical pleasures. We're missing out on the great things in life, things like love, friendship, and genuine emotions that are essential to our beings. Huxley tried to portray a dystopia in which people had everything easy, and HAD everything. Nowadays, we own so much materially, but it leaves us wondering, "How much do we really have?"

  2. I saw the title of the post and was like, "I've actually seen this!" Yep, two years ago.
    The video is cute and yet makes many insightful points. One part that made an impression is the trend switching from skinny heels to thick heels every year so that shoe sellers can earn more money from women constantly throwing their old shoes away and buying the "new fashion."
    A growing number of people are becoming more and more focused on material things and believing that having more stuff = more happiness. Like in Brave New World, many people view material goods as more important than the environment, personal relationships, and morals.

  3. Ooohhhh!!! I really liked this video clip. I've never seen it before, but I found it very interesting.
    In the beginning, when she mentioned her iPod, I got reminded about how obsessed I was (still am, actually) about my iPod, even though it died last month. And of course, like any other consumer, I got a new phone that can serve as an mp3 player as well. I actually haven't thrown it away yet, because a) it's special to me and b) apparently I can use it as a door stopper or a fancy paper weight. It's crazy. :O
    What I also found very interesting was the whole government-corporate relationship. It's very true that corporations are getting bigger and the government just keeps on supporting them because, let's face it, they sure do help the economy. A lot of what was in the video, we've actually discussed in Government Class.
    Just like in Brave New World, our spiritual and ego satisfaction is achieved through consuming. We consume because, in some convoluted way, it actually makes us feel better about ourselves and happier. How on earth did SHOPPING become our source of happiness, instead of, let's say, going on a picnic with family and friends?
    The connections between everything that was mentioned in the video about our consumer-society and BNW is just...very....eye-opening, to say the least.

  4. I find this video very sarcastic and biased, although with some truth. A correlation to Brave New World would be the fact that the economy of Brave New World is also linear based. If the video is true, then I also find it scary that we have become, like the people in Brave New World, a world of consumers, living for shopping and devoid of hardship. I believe that the video is only showing one side of the story, however, and my proof is the existence of that video itself! If there were truly nothing but comsumerism, then that video would not exist. These are my thoughts.

  5. Interesting points in this clip. Amusing part where the government shines the corporation's shoe...in BNW the government is the corporation. Anyways, people don't really get to see the details of the process of their consumerism,and in BNW this is in the form of the peoples' ignorance.
    Natural resource usage is obviously unavoidable, but resource exploitation and waste is. The use of toxic chemicals is not really warranted, yet for the sake of profit, it is a necessary evil. Consumerism is definitely encouraged through ads and society, here and in BNW.
    Of course, BNW is satirical and exaggerates consumerism, as the people are ignorant and brainwashed. It's a stretch, but people do love buying new stuff in our world. Still, they don't really talk about the environmental harm and exploitation aspects in BNW.
    Overall, the clip is a bit biased, and some parts like the shoe part sound like conspiracy theories. Humorous though. Well, people gotta make money, and that's business...they can't just introduce all that technology at once! It is a sad fact. And, that's right, Apple, stop revealing new models of iPods every day!

  6. I really liked the video. Although I had already seen it once before, the ideas still appealed to me because decreasing excessive consumerism has never hurt the planet before, so I feel that the point that this video makes is a very strong one.
    In all seriousness, however, I don't think that all of the facts presented in this video were completely true. I sense this feeling that the facts were presented in a biased manner and therefore must be discounted a little bit. But as I mentioned before, it's never hurt anyone before, it won't hurt anyone now.
    In its' connection to Brave New World, I think they both present the same moral and theme of excessive consumerism. The numerous references in Brave New World about the helicopters and the feelies and how everything people would perceive as normal in this world are abnormal and practically unheard of in Brave New World. The underlying theme of both video and book is clear and Huxley really was a genius for seeing the future so precisely.

  7. I've watched this video several times, but its impact doesn't lessen much. I suppose it IS a bit biased, but sometimes things need to have some bias to get the point across. That reminds me of gov class actually, when we discussed whether bias was always a bad thing... I always get the feeling that the big people plan everything out to exploit us little people. Shoes aren't the only example. I've actually never noticed the thin/thick heels thing, but a lot of fashion is just old fashion becoming fashionable again. And I did kind of feel like a loser when everyone but me had a laptop.
    I have 3 ipods; I've gotten a new one almost every two years. My siblings each have at least one ipod, and my dad also has an iphone. We sound like crazy consumers, but my family actually hasn't spent a single penny on apple products. They were all gifts. :P
    I think Brave New World is like an exaggerated version of The Story of Stuff. It replaces our typical consumer items and also describes the results of taking excessive consumerism and physical satisfaction to the very extremes. The Story of Stuff is the story of now, and Brave New World is the story of what will happen if we continue our trip down Insatiable Consumer Lane.

  8. "The Story of Stuff" is truly an eye-opening, mind-blowing, motivational video. It is a strikingly accurate portrayal of the problems of current society. When I watched this in 10th grade, I thought it was amazing and after watching it again today, I still think its amazing and so informative.
    Many parts of this video stood out to me. One thing pretty crazy is how corporations are now larger than government. Are government bodies becoming less influential because of this? How do we implement new ways to help society and environment without strong governments. Another part that stood out to me was the part about toxins. Its amazing how we are so exposed to the neurotoxins each day (the pillows were an eye-opening example). It was also crazy that the youngest members of society, babies, directly recieve those toxins from the mother's breast feeding. Another thing that stood out to me were the environmental impacts of consumption. Statistics like how the US has only 4 percent of their forests left, how the US is using thirty percent of the worlds resources, and how the US is producing four BILLION pounds of toxic waste per year is simply ridiculous. WE should definitely do our part by going green and of course, stop consuming so many products.
    One way that this video connects to Brave New World is when it talks about the Third World countries. In a sense, those countries represent the Savage Reservation in the book. And because people who live in those countries have no other options, they have to move to the factories and become directly exposed to pollution. Similarly, John feels like he has no other options and feels trapped in the Reservation, so he goes to London. Yet when he gets there he realizes that London is even more messed up than the Reservation. Another part that had a correlation with Brave New World was when it talked about excessive consumerism. In Brave New World, the society expected the individuals to consume and spend money on games, activities, transportation, etc so that it would always be a new process and they wouldnt settle for things that last such as literature. Similarly, in our society, it is becoming a goal for governments to produce more and more goods so more and more people will consume products. Even though public spending can help correct the economy, there needs to be a boundary that is drawn because the amount of consumption these days is absolutely ridiculous.

  9. This is the second time i've watched this, but i don't think it appealed to me as much as the first time because i've been pretty aware of it ever since. In response to the excessive consumerism she was talking about, I think that has decreased through the economic crisis. Maybe we should have more economics crisis in the future so people would learn to be thrifty. Just kidding. But I think it's really hard to stop consumerism, mainly because it has to keep the country's economy going. The clip connects to BNW in terms of how the citizens are encouraged to consume so that it makes them happy, However, I also realized that they have been conditioned to think that they ought to consume and they can't help repeating the process. That is what consuming cycle the girl was talking about---the guys buys the start tee, goes off to work,goes home to watch tv, just to find that the star tee isn't popular anymore, so he goes to shop again---and the cycle keeps going, and he can't stop. I find it very fascinating how BNW has been mentioning this all along.

  10. I believe this is the third time I've watched the "Story of Stuff." Everytime I watch it different things capture my eyes and leaves me thinking.
    First of all, the material’s economy is a linear system, but we’re on a finite planet. I really wonder how we can make it into the green cycle she presented near the end. The part where the government was wiping the corporation’s shoes…IT WAS CUTE! But disappointing. So was the idea of planned obsolescence. The corporation is always trying to think of new ways to enhance that GOLDEN ARROW of CONSUMPTION, and we people blindly contribute to it, too, because we don’t really know the whole story—the huge chain of cause & effect. However, I believe there is still hope that we can reduce the speed of the cycle, or intervene at some point.
    In Brave New World, the people are also caught up in the linear system of consumerism because they believe that’s what makes them happy. That’s why they never mend their clothes. Yes, that makes them happy, but that happiness is superficial. In the real world, people switch from skinny to fat heels just to feel valuable. But do they truly? I doubt it. The real happiness comes from friends, family, and other “stuff” that doesn’t come from mass production.

  11. I watched this video two years ago! Though "The Story of Stuff" is trying to stress an important concept, I feel the facts may be a bit skewed. She IS trying to convince people to consume less, so it wouldn't be surprising if her stats were altered a bit to help her argument.
    The thing that really stuck out to me is what she said about fashion. She says fashion is mostly old fashion becoming popular again, and I fully agree. The hippie/boho look is very popular right now. However, it's not a "new" look. The same thing applies for ipods. I've had my first generation itouch for a little over a year, yet apple is about to introduce a third generation. The only real difference between a first generation and second generation itouch is the fact that a second generation itouch has built-in speakers whereas the first generation doesn't.
    "The Story of Stuff" relates to Brave New World because it describes a world where people try to satiate their physical needs. According to "The Story of Stuff," people are concerned with fulfilling their physical needs. Brave New World is a dystopia where people are persuaded to pursue their physical needs, and they are conditioned to not have emotional needs. "The Story of Stuff" and Brave New World both portray a dystopia in which emotional needs seem to be ignored.

  12. Every time I watch this video I'm amazed at how this system keeps working. I don't think relying on consumerism and the market will help. People can't really afford to keep spending forever and ever. We have already started to see the consequences in this economic downturn. People just don't have the money to keep spending. They lose the money for retirement when they keep spending.
    On the topic of obsolescence I completely agree. In the past, cameras and other electronics that we buy break after about a decade of use. Now, things break just after the warranty period so that companies don't have to give peopl another one for free. Sometimes it's only one piece in the whole that breaks, but when that piece breaks, the whole item is unusable. My mom has actually been quite upset about the whole quality control issue.
    About perceived obsolescence, I think people just have to learn to ignore it. Especially on fashion. People shouldn't be so keen on throwing stuff away, because fashion changes in a circle. Things that were "in" 3 years ago become "in" again, so there's no reason to throw all the stuff that's no longer in fashion away since they'll all just come back into fashion. So I guess being a packrat isn't a bad thing.
    So I guess "The Story of Stuff" just goes to show that the World State wouldn't quite work out. Of course Huxley could just throw in some scientific discovery that allows everything to be reused, but as it is now, The World State wouldn't last long, especially if they keep trying to produce more humans per ovary as the book mentions in the beginning. With the finite resources that we all have, we should really be trying to change things.

  13. When i first saw the post, i was like "Oh my gosh, i've actually seen this video before!" This video was one of the first videos that really helped me shape my point of view on society today. It never struck me how much we as people consume and how almost every aspect of society is geared towards increasing that "gold arrow of consumerism." One concept that really made an impact on me was the "work, tv abuse, consume cycle." It finally occured to me that we work so that we can go buy more thigns, and the only reason we would want more things is because society tells us that we "suck." But if you really think about it, America has reached its global position and wealth because of this system, so what would happen if we stopped this massive focus on consumerism and shifted to something else, wouldn't the free market economy crash??
    My reference to Brave New World was a book about how our society today, or at least our entertainment industry has basically become a mirror image of the Brave New World. The World state, who controls basically everything, has told the world that satisfaction and happiness comes from consuming soma and going out to feelies and other recreational activities. Everything is focused on consuming things and fun. This is exactly what the "story of stuff" is talking about. How our society today, like the World State, has turned "fun" into somethign that MUST involve some sort of consumerism or recreational fun. No longer is there ready for fun, oh no, reading is only to condition people to consume more. Overall, it seems that Huxley was extremely accurate in his prediction of society, and in that if we do not change our ways, our society will become like the World State.

  14. Oh shoot I woke up late today -.-
    Anyway yea like everyone this is my 2nd or 3rd time watching The Story of Stuff. When i first watched the video, which was back in 10th grade, it really shocked me. It scared me to know that I am actually being controlled by the corporations and economists, and that whenever i buy a new pair of shoes, the dude who made it in mexico might've died of factory toxins already.
    However, after watching it again today, it didn't shock me that much anymore. I guess it's because I've learned more about the world. The world right now centers around materialism. Everywhere we see we see ads of clothes, food, technology, and ads with hot girls on them. The main purpose of these ads is to encourage us to buy more things, and by buying more things, we create more waste, and our planet becomes more and more polluted, and then we are doomed. It might be a little bit exaggerated, but it's the inconvenient truth nevertheless.
    A major theme in Brave New World is consumerism. In the book, the World State encourages, no, more like forces the people to buy things. Because people had no individual opinions and ideas, the only satisfaction they get is from stuff and materials. Even though our world is becoming increasingly materialistic, I still think that our world will never become the world in Huxley's novel, and the main reason is that each of us still retained our individual thoughts. In Brave New World, videos like The Story of Stuff wouldn't appear. Our world still has love, friendship, family, and morals.

  15. Felix! I was at the open house and then we were out running errands and I totally forgot that I would not be back by noon; I just got back. Thank goodness I'm not the only one.

    I think this video is kind of cute. I know the message is not at all cute and that it is actually really scary, but the way it is presented is very, well, not heavy. It's not like IOUSA with all the dramatic music and the "YOU AUDIENCE MEMBER YOU BETTER LISTEN UP!" tone. I actually think the way the video presents the information makes helping the world more intriguing and easy in a way. I'm not entirely sure why.

    Like Felix said (again), what I think of most about Brave New World when I watch this video is consumerism. The hedonistic cycle is kind of like the way the "civilized people" consume in Brave New World. What I mean is that when I hear about the hedonistic cycle, it seems like all the buying doesn't actually mean much. It's more like a bad habit than an act of attaining true joy. Consumming all that stuff we don't even need only provides fleeting happiness. Same with the consumerism in Brave New World. Everyone consumes like crazy--it's encouraged--but the people aren't really happy. I mean, they are happy because practically everyone in that world is happy all the time (and when they aren't they can just take soma) but it's not true happiness. It's kind of like what John said. John "claimed the right to be unhappy," but he also claimed the right to experience real joy. I read this children's book once, and basically it was talking about how, if one does not experience the more disappointing parts of life, one cannot really appreciate the good parts. It's like how if you work really hard and get a hundred (or at least way above the average) on a really hard quiz, that is more "sweet" than getting a hundred that the entire class got for free.

    I know the "above average" thing sounds mean, but truth be told, happiness is relative.

  16. IM SO SORRY!!! the family lunch after open house was so draining that i passed out the instant i got home! i'd like to thank JO again for reminding me!!

    this is like my second time watching this video. i think the video makes a great point about consumerism, and how people these days are focused on getting bigger, better, newer stuff. consumerism is a major theme in Brave New World, with their whole "More stiches, less riches." saying. "The Story of Stuff" really gets us thinking about our ways and actions, and how we shouldn't let consuming be such a major part of our life. It doesn't just harm the environment, and it harms our chances of having closer ties with PEOPLE that we care and love.

  17. This is sooooo weird. I commented on this video at around 8:15 this (Saturday morning, but now my post isn't there anymore...hmmmm....

    Well, this is my second time watching this video, with the first time being in my 11th grade AP psychology class. I must say that i agree with this video: people these days are taking in too much "stuff" and giving so less in return. Like in the Brave New World, this video makes a strong emphasis on the element of cunsumerism.

    Like Theresa said, this video does indeed get us to think about our ways and actions of handling certains things.

    ARGH! Why can't people understand that during all this consumin process, they are not only hurting others, but themselves as well?


    posted by Annie