Monday, March 31, 2008

More docs and too much shopping

My Saturday afternoon was spent on Queen St. and in particular at Romni Wool and the Knit Cafe. I came home with a backpack full of yarn. Earlier in the day I had been at Michael's to pick up the last of the yarn I think I'll need for my mother's afghan, and between Michael's, Romni Wool and the Knit Cafe, I spent over $150 on yarn. The day before I placed a couple of book orders with Amazon.ca, also amounting to about $150. In two days I spent over $300 in books and yarn. Talk about shopping therapy! Gaah!

The problem is, that it is hard to stop. I had to force myself to leave the Knit Cafe because there were four more skeins of yarn I had my eye on. And yesterday I spent over an hour adding more books to my Amazon wish list (well, actually I have 5 wish lists, mea culpa). I think I need to get back to my old library way of thinking. It's better to borrow and read than order, own and maybe read.

Isaac and I watched a couple more Hot Docs films this weekend.

One was Kids and Money, a set of interviews with kids in LA USA about money, shopping, and status. Very interesting look at how we/society train/influence our kids to be consumers. How buying stuff is integral to self image and fitting in at school. They have to have the right clothes, some of the kids in this film spend several hundred dollars a week just on clothes (and more on accessories, make-up, etc), some of them don't but would if they could. Some of them beg their parents to buy the stuff for them, some of them go out and get jobs to pay for it. Some of them recognize how insane this is and the stress their parents are going through to keep them satisfied, but they don't seem to be able to stop themselves. They are addicted, their self-image is at stake. Watching this I could not help but think how smug all the advertisers must feel that they have been so wildly successful in creating the consumer culture. As Barbara Ehrenreich says, we (the USA, and Canada to a lesser extent) are the designated shoppers of the world, we keep this devastating global economy going by consuming what the rest of the world produces.

The second film was called Flow: For Love of Water, about the state of water resources in the world (dire). The main message seemed to be that as water becomes scarce there are forces trying to commodify it that are making the scarcity of water both a serious social injustice and an environmental hazard. It is beautifully done, combining both a serious warning and a hopeful demonstration of what can be accomplished when ordinary people put their minds to it.

The connection between the two was that at one point in Flow an Indian (from India not North America) elder talks about what is necessary for change to happen. He says it has to start inside each person, each person has to come to grips with what is important in life, and then act on it. And what kids in the other film are being taught is that owning stuff is what is important in life, consuming resources is what is important. It will take a while for most of them to learn any different, but that is time we can ill afford.

So you can imagine how guilty I am feeling about my own little episode of shopping therapy this week. But I do love looking at that bag of yarn!

But for what it's worth we also watched a wonderful film about Cirque du Soleil preparing a show on the Beatles. No guilt-inducing moral, just lots of nostalgia value, not to mention artistic value.

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