The Rebel Sell

Fight Club. Adbusters magazine. American Beauty. No Logo. Each one a rallying cry against consumerism, a wake-up call to alert us from our advertising-induced slumbers. Right?

Not according to The Rebel Sell. The article – an excerpt from a new book – posits that Naomi Klein’s anger at yuppies in her local area is driven by irritation at her loss of social “distinction”, that American Beauty is about cool, not anti-consumerism, and that Adbusters is just another magazine that you buy in a newsagent.

How can we all denounce consumerism, and yet still find ourselves living in a consumer society?

The answer is simple. What we see in films like American Beauty and Fight Club is not actually a critique of consumerism; it’s merely a restatement of the “critique of mass society” that has been around since the 1950s. The two are not the same. In fact, the critique of mass society has been one of the most powerful forces driving consumerism for more than 40 years.

It’s interesting and inflammatory stuff. I might track down the book.