Brain Ramble: My guilty secret


IMG_3088I know I’m the one who wrote two articles condemning consumerism (here and here), but I have a guilty secret: I love the hype of holiday consumerism. I can’t help it. Conditioned from a young age by the glitzy mall wonderlands and commercialism’s exuberant representation on film. Consumerism enchants, as it did with the ‘le grand magasins’ dream worlds described by Williams¹. The holiday season presents the opportunity for shops to create create cozy welcoming wonderlands within their window displays.

Below are some cultural examples of commercial Christmastime. Maybe once in a year it’s okay to indulge in this guilty pleasure. Consume responsibly, though.


Films combine music and imagery to create romantic holiday scenes centered around consumption. Viewers fall in love with the holiday, and are encouraged to associate the joy of the holidays with malls, spending, and gift giving.

Serindipity’s opening scene: (start watching at 1:50)

elf decor
Photo credit: Elle Decor



Choosing the right song to accompany a scene or ad can add to its power to enchant the viewer. There’s a specific genre of music, the comfortable, lively, and familiar tunes of  Louis Armstrong and others.

Make Someone Happy – Jimmy Durante. This song has been featured recently in a Coca-Cola ad.


Like film, ads capture a short burst of Christmas spirit, wrapped completely of course in the context of consumption. I don’t know what a Debanham’s store is, but their ad below exemplifies this idea.

Happy Holidays everyone!


Williams, R. (1991). “The Dream World of Mass Consumption,” in Rethinking Popular Culture, eds. Chandra Mukerji and Michael Schudson. Berkeley: University of California Press

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