“I’m proud to be an American.” How many times have I heard this phrase growing up? Probably at least enough to have paid for college, especially thanks to that song from Desert Storm that should now be playing in your head. That it is now playing in your head is an indication of successful propaganda, but that’s not what I’m here to write about today. “I’m proud to be an American” means different things to different people, of course, but at the heart of the message is something I don’t think is thought about often enough. “I’m proud to be an American” means, for those of us born after World War II, “I’m proud to be a consumer.” I can see the song lyric now: I’m proud to be an American, where at least I can consume. And I won’t forget the dinosaurs who died to give that right to me… America is a consumer culture, and though we peg consumerism on the post-World War II generation, it really dates back to the pilgrims and our concept of this land as a place of infinite resource available just for our consumption.
So while I was out walking my dog this morning–have you ever considered how you consume your dog? As soon as you walk into a room and start showing pictures of your dog and correcting people about your dog’s breed, you’re consuming your dog.Oh, she’s an American Husky. The vet calls her a “mini.” That’s why she’s the size of a Husky adolescent at 10 years old–I started contemplating the ways in which the brands I consume are part of my identity. This is an excellent exercise for anyone who reads this, because inevitably, even those who think they are anti-consumerist are in fact consumers, making choices about brands that stem beyond affordability and convenience. Truly this is the American Way.
My Branding Identity, a poem-ish by moi
In the gigantic scheme of things, I am:
A cat person, not a dog person.
A Beatles Girl, not an Elvis Gal,
The Who, not the Stones.
I prefer Coke to Pepsi,
but Dr. Pepper when given the choice.
Gap to Old Navy,
Chevy to Ford
(But lovingly drive a Toyota).
Amazon to Ebay,
Kindle to Nook.
I’m a PC, not a Mac.
I like CDs over MP3s,
DVDs over VHS,
But Blu-Ray to DVD.
Xbox over Wii,
Droid over iPhone.
I fly American, not Continental.
SBA to LAX, AUS to DFW,
The airport influences the tone of the trip.
McDonald’s Fries to Burger King’s,
But In-n-Out Burger to everyone else,
except P.Terry’s in Austin.
I choose organic peanut butter over Jif.
Kleenex to Puffs,
Band-aid to Curaid.
I make copies at Kinko’s rather than the other place,
And buy my supplies at Office Depot.
DC rather than Marvel,
Batman can save me over Superman any day.
Jung to Hillman,
Campbell to Eliade.
Disney to everyone else.
Eeyore to Pooh,
Wonderland to Neverland.
Star Wars to Star Trek,
Or is it Star Trek to Star Wars?
My Doctor is the 4th, and I don’t have a Bond.
Austin, Texas, rather than Houston, Texas.
Country roads are better than Freeways.
Disneyland gets my money, not Six Flags,
But I will always stop for a historical tourist trap.
E-mail to snail mail,
but Hallmark Greetings over e-cards.
Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Great Pumpkin:
SweetTarts, Spree, Runts, Smarties,
Please save the chocolate for someone else.
Starbucks to Seattle’s Best,
But local coffee shops are always the best.
Lattes are better than cappuccinos,
And I prefer drip coffee to French Press.
A little half-and-half, please.
Water to fire,
Earth to air.
Spirals to squares,
Beaches rather than lakes,
Except in the mountains.
This list goes on, and continues to grow.
It’s part of being a consumer, and it’s all I know.