Culture in Decline: Consumption-Vanity Disorder

Culture in Decline: Consumption-Vanity Disorder

2012, Economics  -   111 Comments
Ratings: 7.95/10 from 173 users.

Culture in Decline: Consumption-Vanity DisorderThe last thing that fish would ever notice in its habitat is the water. Likewise the most obvious and powerful realities of our human culture seemed also be the most unrecognized.

And it is only when we take pause, often at the risk of social alienation, to question the foundational principles and ideas to which our lives are oriented, a dark truth about our supposed "normality" becomes more clear.

Today we live in an ocean with enormous waves of status obsession, materialism, vanity, ego and consumerism. Our very lives had become defined not by our productive thoughts, social contributions and good will, but by superficial, delusional set of associations with the very fabric of our society that now radiates cheap romanticism, connected to vain competition, conspicuous consumption and neurotic addictions often related to physical beauty, status and superficial wealth.

In effect it is social conformity masquerading as individualism, with the virtues of balance, intelligence, peace, public health and true creativity left to rot on the sidelines. The cultural water we inhabit today runs deep with heavy pollution. It starts in our formative years when to be smart and achieving is to be a nerd or a geek.

Culture In Decline: Episode #3 covers a new epidemic disease rapidly spreading across the world: Consumption-Vanity Disorder. Other episodes: 1. What Democracy? and 2. Economics 101.

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Mats Winther
5 years ago

No, we did not have the option, at some juncture, to turn society into the Socialist paradise. Then things would have been even worse. Truth is, what underlies present-day neurotic consumerism is the fact that we retain a primitive psychology whereas technological development is running amuck. Our souls are poisoned with the plethora of products and amusement. We are like primitives caught up in a cargo cult. We need no Marxist conspiracy theories to understand the present situation.

Michael Tims
6 years ago

Bloody brilliant - synthesizing various strands of the contemporary dominant social pathology into 30+ minutes! Now here is some truthful, accurate cultural media.
Skyrocketing mental illness is, in part, connected to this normalized madness.
A dominant culture that abhors and ridicules self-examination is the culture we have.
Meanwhile, millions remain unaware that a tradition that teaches and rewards instrumental behaviours of compliance and subjugation is a tradition that will eat itself.
Thanks for this gem - congrats to all these creators!

6 years ago

For the most part, excellent documentary detailing what ails all modern societies (NOT just the United States, although many of the innovations in industry and social control through advertising depicted were first started / tried in America). What the documentary lacked, though, was an examination of the attempts to combat these ailments in the last century...of the various socialist revolutions and some of the most notorious resulting societies (the former Soviet Union under Stalin, current-day Northern Korea under Kim Jong-un, etc.). Of course, it IS only a brief documentary, but a slight mention of the competing horrors wrought by past attempts to "bring down the oligarchs," "raise up the slaves" and smash the "mind control of the the Capitalist elite" would enhance its legitimacy. Peter Joseph (the documentary's creator and narrator) doesn't admit to being a Socialist (or, even a Communist), but clearly he has been strongly influenced by the teachings of Marx...which is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as one focuses on Marx's analysis of Capitalism and maintains a healthy skepticism toward his prophesies about workers' future utopias.

But, the question not asked in the documentary remains: "What is to be done?" Clearly (at least to me) continuing along this path of hyper-global capitalism, hyper productivity, and control of populations through advertising (and occasional, strategic state violence), will lead to the ruin of the world, but a return to ideological socialism, as was demonstrated in the last century, is definitely not the answer.

Is there a third, forth, or even fifth way? Pundits and elite on both the ideological left and ideological right claim that there is only one choice: Capitalism or Socialism. I think they're both wrong...there are other paths. We just need our best minds (or is it our best hearts? Best souls?) to imagine them.

carl boudreaux
7 years ago

And if yopu find yourself on the weaker team....well just try to put out documentaries like this one and change the playing field.

carl boudreaux
7 years ago

Everyone is not beautiful when they smile. Some people look a lot better that others. It's a fact. Get used to it. In all aspects of life. Some people are just going to do better at life no mater what type of life we choose to live in. Its just the way of the world. In all species....the weak get weaker and the strong survive. What we have to decide is what team we are on!

8 years ago

This doco states one of the purest truths in its purest form.
Bravo 'Culture in Decline'...

8 years ago

Zeitgeist was my intro to YouTube. I never blogged before that and I can't blog on YT now because of the Google ownership (facial recognition software and drone tech).

Anyway, Peter Joseph is really amazing. I thank him for all he has done and will do. Be safe PJ.

9 years ago

You are so a bad-ass Kane C&C95 wannabe!!! I mean that in a good way though!

9 years ago

ahhhh the 'freedom' of a dichtomous political system...

9 years ago

A 30 minute documentary that is bang on regarding the insanity of humanity, and strips the wheat from the chaff exposing the root problems that are destroying society as a whole. Great job TDF, and keep them coming!

9 years ago

AWESOME DOCUMENTARY well" all I can say is we have one that can SEE US. It's not everyday that the two legged human sheep actually, began to wake up to their sleeping waking zombie state of mind. Mind controlling a mass population is greatly, needed we must train the sheep to do as their told. Don't have independent thought. I guess we need to turn up the secret ELF waves that's coming from our so-call cell phone towers on high alert now. We must be in control of you at all times. Tell you that flouride is great for your teeth when it's a poison but no sheep ever protest why we poison your air food & water just to keep you from reproducing like rats. Spraying your planet with chemtrails to keep you sick & believing that there's nothing in the sky invisible watching your development. But if you ever woke up to our species you might be surprised that we look just like you. Take care & please wake up!

9 years ago

'The century of self' by Adam Curtis is a much better
documentary on this subject— more information, less crap attempts at humour.

Your Name
10 years ago

He should do one on education too, on how we are molded from a young age
to be subservient and obedient, be conformists and productive wage
slaves; by having useless information drilled in our heads, instead of
being taught to embrace and develop own curiosities, interests, and passions.

10 years ago

I decided to watch this again when it came up today on my browser page.
If you're considering watching this doc, be warned that it is very DIFFERENT.
The host, Peter Joseph, is hilarious.
Using wry humour and sarcasm, he points out our society's obsession with "things" and our "image", while he's snacking, changing his clothes, and fiddling with his glasses.
He backs up his observations with historical facts and footage.
There is never a dull moment.

10 years ago

Have had these very seem ideas for most of my life. Glad to see someone put it all together in something for everyone to understand. Freedom is only free when your free. I doubt there will ever being a place where that can happen though.

Margaret Harris
10 years ago

It's not only Americans. It's a world culture of rabid, irrational consumption inspired firstly by the thinking and motives of early philosophers, economists and property owners and secondly by neo-liberalism that imitates and consolidate the economic foundations on which that pre-industrial society was constructed. It next proceeds very successfully to influence world culture and systems. Marshall McLuhan did say that coca cola bottles would end up in remote corners of the world. Well, they have. I drank a coke yesterday and I did buy my new eyelashes too.

10 years ago

hey, it's a white {j/k}
a MUST Series for classes, schools, Colleges,& any institute of "Higher Learning"

10 years ago

No! Tis main theme from stronghold legends!

10 years ago

The scene with the Wall Mart incident features a soundtrack from a computer game Vampire the Masquerade Redemption )) a really old game- touch of nostalgy ))

Todd Morrow
10 years ago

I don't know why he goofs on such simple facts. The Phoebus light bulb organization took it down from 2,500, not 25,000.

Mizaal Muaa
10 years ago

You're trying to listen to what is being said, absorb the ideas and digest the information so that it's possible to decide on a degree of agreement or otherwise.

But then, while ideas are being expressed, there's this s*upid drum beat in the background.

Chukity-chuck, chuckity-chuck. Bang-di-di-bang-bang-bang.

How on earth can a person think about what's being said when the background noise is clearly designed to stop all forms of thought or inner reflection?

Maybe this fella wants us all to agree with him without first thinking about what he says.

10 years ago

The reality is, for someone to recognise that they have become extremely brainwashed throughout their life is far too confronting. The truth is cold and it appears, to the conditioned mind, to be a lonely road. But if one can face their fears with peace, they will see the insanity in the world and feel completely whole, but on the external level, everyone may think of that individual as either insane or a hermit!! I feel like shaking people at times, like I shook myself. But it would be rather unloving, in a sense

10 years ago

The amount of information available these days is simply unbelievable, scientific and technological advancements build up every day, and the brain-washing advertisement to promote products and values we don't really need makes it even worse. Whoever absorbs it all without filtering, simply becomes dumber, lacking ability to distinguish useful information from the tons of informational garbage. The children are the primar victims of this.

These days, you can watch any TV series and movies from a rental/purchased DVD or over internet. News are abundantly available over Internet as well. So, what's the whole point of television then?! Dumb entertainment shows? Advertisement after every 10-15 min of whatever you are watching?

I have a friend, in whose family all kids were not allowed to watch television until they turned about 12 or so. Instead, they would play board games / quizzes / etc. in family circle, read a lot of books, watched some selected movies, took trips, etc. Guess what - all 5 kids grew up remarkably intelligent and very well educated. The older ones are already successful in their career. A good luck or just common sense?

10 years ago

This series simply gives a very clear and concise overview of pure facts that belong to common sense.

Some people, who did recognize the problems addressed in Culture in Decline, pointed out that Peter Joseph "did not give solutions". Well, why would he?! He already does a heck of a job summing up what should be taught to each and every child in school and at home. He gives away information, so an intelligent being can perform a very basic analysis and find his/her own solutions. (Moreover: never trust someone who offers you a ready-to-implement solution.)

Those, who did not understand the series and are attacking its basic principles: well, there is really no point of arguing with a blind. First of all, get a decent education, then test and challenge all you have learned in practice with an open mind and, hopefully, you'll see the reality and understand.

russ williams
10 years ago

While the film makers expertly articulated and illustrated the problem,the premise of this film is flawed. While capitalism and consumerism may very well enable the pathology the film makers coin as Consumption-Vanity Disorder, capitalism and consumerism certainly do not create it. Such maladies have haunted the human condition since recorded history. While the documentary makes salient points in relation to obsessive and compulsive consumer behavior, the film makers go astray by indicting the very economic system that made it possible for them to make this film. While no direct reference was made to the principles of Marx or communism, between the lines was a persistent and pervasive message that socialism/collectivism would solve the societal decay addressed in the film. While thoughtful and introspective people will agree that the West's infatuation with status and materialism will lead to ill ends, blaming a system, and expecting a new system to enable a type of healing seams a bit specious. What has become of personal responsibility? If we blame capitalism for creating too much wealth, then lessons from history demand that we also blame collectivism for creating too much poverty. In either case the few still rule the many. Pick your poison.

10 years ago

That is a very good point, as many jobs are being lost to people being imported, which is why there are so many doctors now working in the United States from places like India. On a side note, several years ago a relation of mine lost her job because her company decided to export its entire programming department to some place in Asia. But here was the clincher: My relative was told that the only way she was going to receive any kind of severance package was if she trained her replacement! How is that for a kick in the teeth?!

10 years ago

was this made for a college project??

10 years ago

i think Devon Griffiths is just an example of what this series shows and the blind believe on the establishment...

10 years ago

I feel liKE I am the only person that can ride a bicycle without spandex or the rest of the advertised accessories

Eric Fortier
10 years ago

These are extremely divergeant problems. He does not offer real solutions, but is clearly effective at outlining the basic problems that need fixing. Solutions can create more problems, but there is no absolute cure to everything.

That said, these documentary episodes are informative and necessary. But we also need serious people to watch them and do something about them. It's perfect that we can now spread the word through the internet, a massive form of communication emerges and implicated parties can have a hand at implementing solutions.

These kinds of documentaries are key to the evolution of our culture.

10 years ago

The assumption that capitalism is defined as profit at any cost is one made by the money-grubbing elite and those who blindly embrace this very mean-spirited, treasonous credo. American businesses which export jobs overseas and then accrue huge profits are the very same money grubbers who refuse to pay any taxes, and then deposit their profits into off-shore accounts. The result is rising unemployment in the United States, and also a massive loss of money available in the U.S. economy. But the real crime is the exporting of jobs. This undermines decades of efforts for fair labor practices in the United States. It also relegates all workers in the U.S. to groveling at the feet of businesses, particularly mega-corporations. Workers are all too often told, "well we could just move our operation to China," which is in essence a veiled threat to shut up and keep your head down. This practice of American businesses reaping the profits of overseas labor needs to come to a screeching halt. The real harm this causes is just not worth the cheap goods we end up with. And the only ones really making any money in the United States are the tiny handful of corporations who believe that profit at any cost is acceptable. At one time we had tariffs in this country which protected our businesses, but with the rise of the Neocons since the early 1980s (under Reagan and Bush) all laws which protected American businesses and American workers have been gutted. Sadly, under Clinton and Obama, the trend has continued and actually sped up, gaining momentum with each barge-load of foreign goods exported to the United States. And the more we crawl into bed with China the more we are looking like a Communist country, where workers have absolutely no rights. Is making a profit at any cost really worth it, with that said? Profit at any cost is too high a price for any society, and relegates workers to the status of veritable slaves. Anyone who believes this is an acceptable way in which American capitalism should be conducted is morally bankrupt. Wake up zaphodity and smell the exodus of jobs from the United States and loss of dignity of the American worker.

10 years ago

When you stop watching network TV with all it corporate programming and adertisng, you, like myself, will eventaully discover you are changing into a thinking individual and will come to see others as increasingly shallow and neive.
You begin asking yourself why you need anything the store is offering. You may come to question the quality and taste of the fast foiod industry.
How could seemingly intelligent people be so manipulated? How embarrassing to realize you had actually been manipulated on a subconcious level. Baffled.

10 years ago

Prior to 1980, when Reagan and the NWO Neocons began their assault on the American worker and American industry, we used to define a third world country as one which did not produce its own goods, and was thus held economically captive by those countries exporting their goods. Isn't it ironic that the U.S. is now in that very position, held captive by the barge-loads of goods shipped over from China and the like. We also have factories springing up as fast as they can be built not only in China, but in Mexico right on the U.S. border, so that low wages can be further taken advantage of, thus displacing more American workers. The only way to stop this trend is to stop buying these goods. It is that simple. The global economy feeds upon ignorant consumers who refuse to look at where items are produced and their harmful consequences. On a side note, I no longer exchange gifts (hard goods) on holidays such as Christmas. I also do not believe in gift giving on birthdays, in terms of giving hard goods. My idea of a "gift" has transcended into inviting someone over for a nice dinner, or an offer to detail their car or help rake their yard. Gift giving, as it is currently viewed in the U.S., (i.e. giving some cheap foreign-made item, as is 95 percent of goods now for sale on U.S. retailers' shelves), is just more rampant consumerism.

John Marus
10 years ago

Worth watching, considering - a solid B performance. IMHO reading the comments here only serves to support the message of this film; He's pretty much talking about "Americans" and he's pretty much right on target. Merry buying season

oh, ps, Jack1952, yes, putting your head in the sand might help, good luck with that

10 years ago

I am virtually a non-consumer at this point in my life, except for buying groceries. All else i find at thrift stores, and it is just bare necessities. I drive a 20 year old Nissan truck that was paid off years ago. I agree with the premise of this documentary, but the hipster host and his hipster friends totally undermine the message. It is like when the hipsters descended on Seattle in 1999 to protest against WTO global interests, all dressed in their hipster jeans, and holding their Starbucks drinks while their Jeep Grand Cherokees were double parked with the engines running. Get it?

hasib faryabi
10 years ago

As with all things in life, moderation is key. This guy is probably well meaning but to completely rid yourself of modern culture and societal norms is downright ridiculous. One has to be aware of the fact that the system is constantly trying to fool us and "enslave" us but also remember that life (healthcare, education etc.) now is better than it has ever been in the past so there are benefits to be gained. Being on both ends of the extremes is unhealthy. The key to prosperity in such a time is knowledge and self control I believe.

10 years ago

as i understand it they do offer solutions,hence the venus project.

10 years ago

Anyone who allows the advertisers to tell them what they need is lacking in intelligence. It is not the fault of the hucksters, it is your own damn fault. People have to stop blaming others and point the blame where it belongs. It is something that this Zeitgeist movement doesn't do.

Most of us that watch this doc live a life where we take the core needs of life for granted. We really don't want to live the life that our ancestors did one hundred and fifty years ago. The type of affluence that they could only dream of does not guarantee that people will no longer act in a foolish manner. Those mad shopping sprees of Black Fridays is plainly aberrant behaviour. A lot of us choose not to take part in such weird antics.

This documentary uses the same techniques that they accuse advertisers of using. They present their own style of glitz, presented in short, attention grabbing sequences accompanied by loud pop music. I guess if it works for big time industry it should work for them as well.

10 years ago

Personally, i like how some people trying to criticize. It's amazing how people feel attacked if someone criticizes existing culture in which people feel developed, humane, intelligent, no matter if the reality of the world looks completely different. But the majority simply ignores this, on the end, ignorance, materialism and egocentrism are the biggest values ??of the capitalist cult.

10 years ago

There's so much talking in Peter's videos I just press play and then do other stuff around the internet/house. They'd probably work better as radio spots XD

A lot of the stuff he mentions is a bit economy 101, so it might alienate many of the people he's trying to educate. Having the disjointed and slightly entertaining skits sandwiched between long monologues with legalese-length sentences is an odd format. Either present us a lecture and trust us to stay listening if we're interested, or use plainer English, skits and use a less intense format to engage people who don't already understand the concepts.

Although the Live Ad Dude and the Rich Trust Fund B*stard were sort of amusing. They just didn't seem to fit in with the lecture.

10 years ago

5mins through... Why is everything slightly blurred except for the black ops van at the back?

10 years ago

I think Peter Joseph is trying to start his own cult.

10 years ago

Not sure if this was much of a documentary. As @DigiWongaDude mentioned earlier, none of Peter's videos offer any solutions & how can anyone take him seriously when the content is nothing more than an exercise in intellectual ranting?

It was as funny as hell though. From start to finish, lots of in your face laughs along with many hidden comical gems. The double entendre 1950's adds were especially smile inducing. Watch till the very end for yet still more chuckles.

Can anyone direct me to the location of the H.G.S. meetings? I only want to offer my wisdom, life experience & support to these troubled women. Purely unselfish motives, I assure you.

@ zatarra I agree this was the the funnest or funniest of the 3 films he has made so far in this series. I may even have to watch it for a second time as you recommended.

10 years ago

eat, drink and be merry. If you don't have access to cake or booze, just try to be as happy as you can.

10 years ago

Groucho Marx meets Anonymous...whoever Peter Josephs is, his self indulgent fan ramblings and rantings to a dying sea of zeitgeist followers, still offers no solutions. I swear if I have to watch him eat and talk at the same time once more, I'm done. The only thing this guy will have to offer in 10 years is "I told you so", and when he does it'll be with thick rimmed glasses and a wobbly, fat cigar.

10 years ago

The theme of this video can be described by my favorite Far Side comic. There is a little bee surrounded by a mass of other bees in a hive. He has a look of panic on his face. He says: "I can't take it anymore! That incessant buzzing sound!" as the other bees have absolutely no sign of emotion on them.

Because I have been an overweight girl since the age of 4 I have experienced the huge crushing, soul sucking, pain inducing, hate mongering, torturing effect of consumer culture in the harshest way possible. I learned very early on that because of my "ugliness" I would always be different and wrong and repulsive to many people in Western culture. I hated advertisements since before I could really understand why. And now that I DO understand why, and I understand that all this hatred they want me to feel about myself is designed, crafted, and manipulated to make me and others BUY things I just want to turn it all off. BUT I CAN'T.

The people who are close to me call me puritanical, a censor, insinuate that I am naive and prude if I don't want to watch violent video games where you watch people die or movies where there are never any women who look like me in any positive roles. They say I am backwards and damaged and wrong when I don't enjoy the concerts that are just fashion shows.... I've been hospitalized many times because this culture LITERALLY feels like it is killing me. The more I detach from it the healthier I feel.

Nature helps. Walks in the woods (what the **** do the trees or mushrooms or little birds or bugs care about how I look). Animals help. Genuine conversation with friends that don't need media. My work helps too. I work for a non profit that helps immigrants. I kind of felt like if I didn't go into a job where I helped people then I was really just wasting time. Learning things helps. Researching and understanding why things are this way and how others have brought change. Doing nice things for children and their parents. That helps too.

And at the end of it I still recognize that in the lottery of life I have been given one hell of a winning ticket. I have seen good kind souls lost in debt, homelessness, disease, war, poverty, and madness.

As Ginsberg said : "I have seen the greatest minds of my generation starving, hysterical, naked...."

Maybe one day I'll get out. Others have. Maybe it's possible.

Until then, if you are into all that Grand Theft Auto - Hollywood Movies - Buying Slave Labor cheap clothes **** you can kiss my size 18 *** because to quote Ginsberg again my goal is to pursue "the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul"

Guess I might have to miss the Black Moth Super Rainbow concert next time and just go hiking in the woods at night.

10 years ago

I love this guy, I feel like we share perspectives of the society we live in!

10 years ago

"I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to suspect that the new commercial lifestyle... is actually a hidden form of retardation." Peter Joseph

10 years ago

The only people who would be stupid enough to buy into the theory this documentary presents are the idiots this documentary describes... hopefully that's not very many

10 years ago

This documentary is nauseatingly stupid. The people involved are clearly coke snorting hipster idiots from Williamsburg.