Hi Everyone: I'm not in the ENVR 430 class (sorry to infiltrate that pod of postings ;) but I wanted to share something from African American feminist scholar bell hooks on youth culture and predatory consumer values which were mentioned by Dr. Chan in the recent webinar (Sept. 8). These excerpts are from her book WHERE WE STAND: CLASS MATTERS (Routledge, 2000). Her tone in the chapter is a bit more acidic than these excerpts suggest. Some of my students felt that she doesn't give youth enough credit for non-consumerist pursuits; other felt that the word "radical" has taken on negative connotations when it shouldn't (i.e. radix = root; getting to the root of things, back to one's roots, instead of extremism). Anyhow, just thought I'd share some excerpts for anyone who's interested. - NK
1) "No matter your class, no matter your race, if you have access to credit, to cash, every store is open to you. In the world of spending, desire for the commodity matters, it cuts across all barriers. In this world there is no need for social awareness, for radical protest. And that world is particularly appealing to the generation of youth who are caught up in the fantasy that advertising produces, a world where everyone is one, where there is no pain, and everyone can belong if they can pay the price of the ticket. . . . The downside of fantasies of a classless society, of a consumer-driven dream wherein you are what you possess, is the psychological torment it causes everyone who is unable to fulfill endless material longings" (82).
2) "In part, youth culture's worship of wealth stems from the fact that it is easier to acquire money and goods than it is to find meaningful values and ethics, to know who you are and what you want to become, to make and sustain friends, to know love" (85).
3) "Without education for critical consciousness that begins when children are entering the world of consumer capitalism, there will never be a set of basic values that can ward off the politics of predatory greed. Seeds of hope are planted in the efforts made by youth to shift from focusing of luxury items and designer clothes to a grunge, back-to-nature lifestyle, by the radicalized youth who work for environmental rights, and by the young who are facing the realities of class and working to create a just society" (88).