According to the Darwinian consumption theory, men and women are driven by the instinct to consume. That is in an effort to satisfy their needs (Saad, 2013). The Joneses (2009) is an American-based film that was created by directed by Derrick Borte in 2009 (Jenkins, 2015). In its composition, the film shows how persons consumption behavior can be influenced by the forces around them, such as their peer relationships. This essay is a discussion of the concepts of consumerism and consumption in relation to the film The Joneses (2009).
The term consumerism characterizes a social or an economic order that encourages people to consume goods and services in a gradually increasing amount. Furthermore, the model encourages the attainment of goods and services through purchase for personal as well as economic stimulation. Today, consumerism is often confused with capitalism. However, the two concepts are not the same because the latter describes an economic system while the former is a form of pervasive cultural attitude. In a consumerist perspective, persons believe that their happiness, as well as wellbeing, is dependent on a large level of personal satisfaction. This concept applies mostly to the attainment of physical products.
Moreover, consumerists believe that their happiness is not dependent on the standard of their living, but on the scale of consumption of material possessions. Also, a consumerist society is a form of society where persons dedicate time, energy, thought as well as resources in consumption. The United States is a form of a hyper-consumerist society. In the American society, the nation has devised structures for promoting consumptions of physical items among its nationalities. As portrayed in the film The Joneses (2009)s massive advertisements are among the widely used strategy by business organizations in encouraging mass consumption among the public members.
On the other hand, consumption means the action of using up a resource or product for personal gain or satisfaction. In economics, consumption is the usage of goods and services by individuals or households, to fulfill a basic or luxurious needs. Additionally, contrary to consumerism, the concept of consumption is not focused on the quantity that a person can consume to attain satisfaction. Instead, consumption in done to fulfill an individuals immediate need or desire. Additionally, such desires could be the need for luxurious products such as luxury cars for prestige. For example, people could also consume expensive chicken in a restaurant instead of ordinary chips to feel more satisfied than others consuming cheaper meals in the same restaurant.
Furthermore, conspicuous consumptions characterize the usage of luxurious items in an attempt for a person to promote his personal prestige. Additionally, conspicuous consumption has been portrayed extensively in the film The Joneses. This is a form of consumption that occurs when persons start caring about their standards of living because of their peers. In this case, people tend to spend a lot of funds purchasing luxurious items to set themselves apart from others in their environment in terms of their economic status or material possession. Ultimately, the current contemporary society is highly characterized by persons competing to consume various products to satisfy their current needs. In most cases, such needs are developed due to the need to better off than others in regards to material possessions.
In the film, The Joneses (2009), it is portrayed that products have a large impact on the people. This is because, in the film, they are viewed as the sources of happiness and a symbol of the American dream. The film portrays a group of marketers who pretend to be a happy family, working to market various products for their company in their neighborhood. The family moves from one town to another, with their most marketable products ready to sell them to the people around them. The family is made up of a dad, mom, daughter, and son and each has a role in marketing various products to the targeted market.
At first, the products, being marketed by the Joneses family are viewed as a source of happiness by the neighbors. However, the craving to acquire material possession by the Joneses and their neighbors leads them to self-destruction. For instance, a couple that lives next door to the Joneses completely transform their lifestyle after meeting the Joneses. In the film, this couple is referred to as Larry and Summer, and they result in purchasing expensive goods to match the lifestyle of the Joneses family.
This is an ideal example of the concept of consumption in the film. In this case, Larry and Summer try to keep up with the lifestyle of the Joneses by buying new and expensive cars, cosmetics, sporting equipment and TVs. This is in order to appear to be at the same standard as the Joneses. Additionally, in the film, it is evident that Larry cannot afford the expensive items he is purchasing. Consequently, he gets in so much debt than he can manage to pay, which eventually drives him to commit suicide.
In this context, it can also be hypothesized that Larrys behavior is driven by the concept of consumerism. In this case, Larry and Summer could have resulted in their uncontrolled purchase behavior due to their perception that ownership of properties results in the attainment of happiness. Furthermore, in the film, the Joneses try to portray their life as being perfect in the face of their neighbors. Contrary, the film later reveals that Joneses are faced with immense challenges.
This is despite their efforts to lie to others in the society that they are happy with their material possessions and wealth. For instance, everything about the familys lifestyle is fake. This is because they try to exude happiness with products that are not even their but belonging to the marketing company where they work. Moreover, despite having the lavish products, it is evident that each of them wants more in his/her life. For, instance, Steve needs love and a family of his own.
Additionally, Steve even develops emotional feelings for Kate. However, his high need to consume drives him to betray Kate in order to acquire the ICON status from the marketing company they work for by himself. On the other hand, Kate desires to achieve the ICON status than any other thing in her life. Consequently, this turns her into a person who does not care about others in her social context but herself. These two examples of Steve and Kate portray how consumerism and consumption aspects can modify the behavior of an individual.
Also, in the film, it is also evident that the concepts of consumerism and consumption have also influenced Micks life negatively. This is because Mick is gay, but he is forced to pretend that he is straight and in a relationship with Naomi just to make sales. In this case, Mick recognizes the potential of Naomi to help him in his sales and such chooses to remain in an unsatisfactory relationship to further his consumerism and consumption behavior.
Ultimately, from these examples, it is evident that people have a tendency to continue consuming products. This is due to their consumerism attitudes that make them believe that consuming more products can aid them in attaining happiness. It is also evident that luxurious items in an attempt for a person to promote his prestige. This through their conspicuous consumptions behavior, which makes them purchase unnecessary products in an effort to fit in the society.
In conclusion, the concepts of consumerism and consumption are expansively portrayed in the film The Joneses (2009). Consumerism characterizes a social or an economic order that inspires people to consume goods and services in a progressively and increasing volume. Moreover, consumerists trust that their happiness is not dependent on the standard of their living, but on the scale of consumption of material possessions attained. Additionally, consumption means the action of using up a resource or product for personal gain or satisfaction. However, it is slightly different from conspicuous consumptions, which refers to the usage of luxurious items in an attempt for a person to promote his personal prestige. Ultimately, through conspicuous consumption, people tend to spend a lot of funds purchasing luxurious items to set themselves apart from others in their surroundings in terms of their economic status or material possession
Jenkins, C. (2015). Home Movies: The American Family in Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. New York: I.B.Tauris.
Saad, G. (2013). The Consuming Instinct: What Darwinian consumption reveals about human nature. JSTOR: Politics and the Life Sciences, 32(1), 58-72.
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