Home Retail Retail therapy: film, art, books and more for the Christmas shopping season | Culture

Retail therapy: film, art, books and more for the Christmas shopping season | Culture

by Ozva Admin


George A Romero’s 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead is one of the most inspired critiques of consumerism in movie history. It is about a zombie uprising caused by a virus from outer space, causing the dead to rise from the grave, driven by a hunger for living human flesh. The film satirizes 1960s American consumerism: people living in a catatonic state of hunger, thirst, and hostility; a metaphor that becomes explicit in Dawn of the Dead (1978), set in a shopping mall. Now, in the age of social media, it is even more relevant. All of us endlessly scrolling through our phones, boringly looking through material covertly curated by trading algorithms. People do it on public transport and even walking the streets… like zombies. peter bradshaw


A bridge too farm... Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
A bridge too farm… Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Photography: Nintendo

Most games are materialistic: they tend to revolve around accumulating resources, be it money or experience points or better and better weapons and armor. But there’s one game that really communicates the joy of shopping, rather than the grind: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Every day when you walk into Animal Crossing’s local Nook’s Cranny shop, there’s a different little selection of beautifully modeled furniture; when Sahara the carpet-selling camel arrives, it feels like an event. It’s satisfying to browse the ever-changing products and choose what to spend your hard-earned bells on, then take it home and put it on display. Animal Crossing home decor items serve no purpose, but that’s the point: you’re buying them because they look cute, not because they’ll give you any advantage. Keza McDonald


Collecting the deal... Hang Linton.
Collecting the deal… Hang Linton. Photography: Jen Photo

The planet is dying, the strings in the stock market are tightening, and for the umpteenth year, everyone in the family has agreed that no one really needs anything for Christmas. And yet, we’re all filling our online baskets as usual, convinced we’ve found “some” essential deals. Capturing the vicious cycle of this 20% off feeding frenzy, Leeds newcomer Hang Linton shares Sale, a cautionary tale about a shoulder-bouncing pop-funk beat: “Discounts on discounts / But don’t discount the fact / We bought it all for cheap / with the sweat of someone’s back.” Will we be more cautious next year? Hopefully. But until then, this danceable number gets to the cold heart of consumerism. jenessa williams


White Noise by Don Delillo

The great Don DeLillo’s visionary 1985 novel, White Noise, adapted for the screen this winter by Noah Baumbach, tells us about the holy trinity of shopping: “Mastercard, Visa, American Express”. The marks are repeated like mantras. Children whisper “Toyota Celica” in their sleep. Grown men are spellbound and awed by supermarket displays: “There were six kinds of apples, there were exotic melons in various pies. Everything seemed to be in season, sprayed, burnished, shiny.” There are great abundant lists of everything. There is always more merchandise and always the possibility to buy more. But there is never any hope of escaping the terror of mortality. No matter how many purchases DeLillo’s characters make to distract themselves, they know they are always moving towards death. It’s both the bleakest and funniest investigation into consumerism money can buy. sam jordison


Selling… L'Enseigne de Gersaint by Antoine Watteau.
Selling… L’Enseigne de Gersaint by Antoine Watteau. Photography: Alamy

As you scramble through crowded shops counting Christmas pennies, picture this: L’Enseigne de Gersaint, a shopping dream as an elegant and luxurious delight, painted around 1720 by Jean-Antoine Watteau, one of the most alluring artists to ever have existed. Watteau made L’Enseigne as a shop sign for a Paris art dealer, and it surely must have stopped shoppers in their tracks. As a celebration of art as commerce, it anticipates Warhol by 240 years. Watteau beats all perfume ads in the way he makes shopping look sexy. The women’s silk dresses gleam as they exercise their taste in choosing plaid for the mansion, packed by shop workers. Watteau revels in the comedy and sensuality of life, but he died in 1721 and this tender announcement is his last breath. jonathan jones

You may also like

Leave a Comment