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Teeny Beenies, Cabbage Patch, Miatas; consumerism gone mad

April 24, 1997

The issue:

Consumerism

His view:

'Keeping up with the Joneses' has taken on

frightening

proportions in today's world.

Edward Sanchez

campus columnist

The other day on CNN, I saw a story about the promotion McDonalds has with the 'Teeny Beenie' dolls in their Happy Meals.

Expecting about the usual demand, McDonalds has been overwhelmed by the demand for the little toys. It was said that a delivery man that was unloading a new shipment of the cursed things was attacked and tackled by a frenzied customer.

What does this remind you of folks?

Remember 'Tickle-Me Elmo?' If memory serves me correctly, the same phenomenon occurred in the '80s with 'Cabbage Patch' dolls. It is, however, not limited to toys.

As a car enthusiast, I have seen some people pay exorbitant prices for cars they could never hope to recoup their money on.

People were paying $35,000 for Mazda Miatas when they first came out. At the time, the suggested retail price was about $14,000. Same thing with the Dodge Viper. I remember seeing one in a showroom with an asking price of $250,000. The list was $65,000.

What we have here is consumerism run amok. What has caused this intriguing plague of the modern world?

Either advertising agencies have somehow managed to send out subliminal messages on VHF signals to all the consumers out there saying 'YOU MUST HAVE THIS THING!!'or we have become so materialistic and insecure that we must all run together like a herd of buffaloes to have exactly the same things.

For what? Some would say that the 'Tickle-Me Elmo' craze was just a massive outpouring of love by parents nationwide for their children. Well, they demonstrated anything but love when they were literally fighting each other to get the last one on the shelves.

What ever happened to 'love thy neighbor'? Has an amendment been added under my nose that states 'except during the holiday season when 'Tickle-Me Elmo's' are on sale and must be obtained by force. 'Teeny Beenie' Happy Meals also subject,'?

And what possesses perfectly mature grown men, (and women, in the interest of gender fairness, though I seriously doubt many women would show such poor judgment) who are usually super-savvy about investing and maximizing interest on their dollar, to spend triple or quadruple the price for a car that they can only hope to get a fraction of that price when they sell it?

Though there is an innate tendency to follow the crowd and to have illogical desires among humans, I would venture to say that this plague is more an effect of the perversion of values in this country.

Though I used the 'love thy neighbor' example above as a humorous anecdote, I am quite serious when I ask the question rhetorically. Are a pair of Nike shoes and a Bulls Starter jacket worth taking a life?

Instead of blindly chasing after the glitter and glamour of corporate consumerism, we should realize that material objects will not make us more popular with our true friends, nor will they make our children love us any more.

There is nothing wrong with having fine material goods and enjoying them.

But ultimately, our possession of them will not make our lives any more fulfilling or meaningful, or make the country a safer, more loving place for our children.

Copyright © 1997 The Lariat

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