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The International Writers Magazine: Life Style

Fail and Fail Again: the choice is yours
Colin Todhunter

I used to feel really great. Then I started to watch TV on a regular basis. I didn’t know it previously but I’m ugly, have bad hair and don’t possess the latest gadgetry that will make me supremely happy. My diet is lacking, my fingernails poor, my eyes faded, my skin sagging and my taste in food, fashion and lifestyle choices questionable. I’m a total mess! I should do the world a favour and end it all now, the sooner the better. I’m a complete and utter failure.

Or so I’m led to believe. We are what we wear? Don’t believe a word. There is nothing proper about lifestyle propaganda. TV commercials talk about the miraculous wonders of the newest worthless household gadget, the latest tastier-than-tasty fizzy drink or the better-than-ever overpriced designer label clothes. Luxuries that we can do without? Of course not. They are the necessary, must-have, must-be-seen-to-have lifestyle products, all because some beaming sportsperson, celebrity or movie star endorses them.

I used to quite like the music of The Beatles. Now I hate it. That was because Nike shoe commercials used some of their songs to grace their fantastic products on TV. I now no longer think of wonderful youthful idealism when I hear particular Beatles’ songs — just smelly feet and mass-produced footwear. If you do not possess the latest products on offer, then you are a failure. If you do possess them, you will feel an even bigger failure because by that stage you will have bought into the lie and will be wanting the bigger, brighter, better versions of the older products that were supposed to be the biggest, brightest and best that could ever exist.

Six months ago you ran out to buy the latest miracle product to hit the shelves. Now you are told that that particular cutting edge commodity is obsolete and useless when compared to the super-improved-edge version. Or do they mean that YOU are obsolete and useless? You don’t have time enough to begin to get that hollow feeling because the message is relentless.

Retail therapy? Some therapy! Advertisements create a thirst that can never be quenched. And for those who crave, it’s an expensive endeavour. Billions are spent telling us that somewhere at the end of the rainbow there is a pot of gold and the hapless consumer in the quest spends trillions. But as day fades to night, the rainbow disappears, and illusion gives way to reality: you may find that there is no gold.

There is nothing that can make teeth any more whiter-than-white, skin any more smoother-than-smooth, and hair any more shinier-than shiny. Wearing the appropriate designer label product will not miraculously turn us into bright, young things and, believe it or not, drinking the right type of cola will unfortunately not suddenly make us God’s gift to men or women, despite what the happy, smiling faces say.

But it is all about freedom of choice, isn’t it? I can now go and buy some Botox, miracle facial cream, a fantastic plasma screen TV, a wonder hair strengthening shampoo… I nearly forgot – a newer super improved version of a credit card that will enable me to shop till I drop beneath an even greater burden of debt. Of course you may say the ultimate choice is that you can either take it or leave it. So I think I’ll leave it. After all, I’m already happy… or perhaps I only think I am.
© colin todhunter April 2007

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