ACT 3. BURNING OF THE BRANDS.

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Do you wish that you were more popular? Are you conviced that owning famous brands of clothing would help? Young jornalist Neil Boorman thought so. Then one day, he took all his brand-name possesions-$20,000 worth of expensive designer gear- and destroyed them in a bonfire in central London.

From fashions like Adidas trainers to gadgets like Blackberry phones, Boorman threw it all into the pyre. “From an early age, I have been taught that to be accepted, to be loveable, to be cool, one must have the right stuff”, he says. At school, he had tried to make friends with the populars kids, but was teased for not having stripes on his trainers. He nagged his parents to buy him the “right” shoes, and the instant improvement in his social life triggered a life-long obsession. As an adult, still dependent of these status symbols for his self-esteem, he spent most of his income on brand-name items.

Some well-known brands

As his debts began to grow, he realized that rather than making him happy, his addition was making him more and more miserable. He declared that he would not only get rid of all his brand-name things- he was going to live without brands for an entire year.

This meant searching his local farmers’ markets for fresh produce rather than running out to the supermarket. Clothes shops on the high street were now out of bounds so he went to second-hand shops. Since he couldn’t find brand-free alternatives to his TV or DVD’s, he spent the year without them. Unable to find brand-free toothpaste, he made his own.

Front Page of the book “Bonfire of the Brands”.

As descibed in Boorman’s book, Bonfire of the Brands, the year was a constant struggle. Nevertheless, there were many benefits. He got to know his local shopkeepers by name and lost weight from not eating ready-made food. Of course, his bank account was in much better shape, and his anxiety about needing brands for status nearly disappeared. “I’ve lost a whole bunch of stuff, but suddently it doesn’t matter” he wrote.

Critics have commented that Boorman should have given his belongings to charity, but if he had not staged the bonfire, he wouldn’t have recived the publicity he desired. He was, after all, making a statement-not only aboud brands, but about consumerisms in general. In the UK, he says, shopping has become the national pastime because people have blindly accepted advertisings message: we’ll feel better if we consume more. In reality, consumer culture has done us more harm than good. If we stopped working such a long hours to pay our debts, we’d suffer less stress and enjoy more free time.

You still may not want to get rid of the things you’ve worked so hard to buy, or stop shopping for your favourite brands. But if Neil Boorman’s action have at least made you think twice about your consumer habits, then he has accomplished his goal.

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ACT 3. BURNING OF THE BRANDS.


T’agradaria ser més popular? Creus que comprar roba de marca t’ajudaria a ser-ho? El jove reporter Neil Boorman ho pensava. Per això un dia va agafar tota les seves possessions de marca -per valor d’un $20.000- i les cremà a una pira al centre de Londres.

Des de complements de moda com esportives Adidas fins a aparells com telèfons Blackberry. Boorman ho va tirà tot dins la foguera. “Des que era jove, m’han explicat que per ser acceptat, per ser encantador, per ser “guai”, un ha de tenir les possessions adequades”, ens explica. A l’escola, va intentar relacionar-se amb els al·lots popular, però va ser discriminat per aquests per no tenir les esportives amb ratlles. Va donar la llauna als seus pares perquè el hi comprassin les sabates “adequades”, i la millora que això comportà a la seva vida social es convertí en una obsessió crònica. Com a adult, segueix dependent d’aquests signes “estamentals” per a la seva autoestima, i inverteix gran part dels seus guanys en productes de marca.

Algunes marques conegudes mundialment.

Algunes marques conegudes mundialment.

Així com els seus dubtes començaren a créixer, se n’adonà que en vers de fer-lo feliç, aquesta addicció l’estava enfonsant més i més. En aquest moment declarà que no només es desfaria de tots aquests objectes, sinó que viuria sense objectes d’aquest tipus durant un any.

Això significava buscar productes frescs als mercats de les granges locals, en vers als supermercats. Les tendes de roba estaven ara prohibides, així que anava a les tendes de segona mà.

Com descriu al seu llibre, Bonfire of the Brands, l’any fou una constant batalla. Tan mateix, hi havia diversos beneficis. Va començar a saber els noms d’els venedors locals, i va perdre pes gràcies al fet de deixar d’ingerir menjar ràpid. I es clar, el seu compte bancari estava molt millor, i la seva ansietat de necessitar marques pel seu estatus social va desaparèixer. “Vaig perdre una gran quantitat de coses, però de com, no m’importava” va escriure.

Portada del llibre “Bonfire of the Brands”.

Els crítics han comentat que Boorman hauria d’haver cedit els seus bens a la beneficència, però si no hagués fet la pira, no hauria aconseguit la publicitat que mereixia. Ell, després de tot, estava fent una declaració en contra no només de les marques, sinó en contra del consumisme en general. Al Regne Unit, comenta, anar de compres s’ha convertit en el passatemps nacional perquè la gent ha acceptat cegament els missatges publicitaris: ens sentirem millor si consumim més. Realment, la cultura del consum ens ha fet més mal que bé. Si ens aturéssim de treballar durant llargs horaris per pagar els nostres deutes, sofriríem menys estrès i gaudiríem més del nostre temps lliure.

Potser encara no vulguis desfer-te d’els objectes pels quals has hagut de treballar dur per aconseguir-los, o no vulguis deixar de comprar les teves marques favorites. Però si l’acció de Neil Boorman t’ha fet almenys rumiar sobre els teus hàbits de consum, ell ha aconseguit el seu objectiu.

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Published by

Pilar Caldentey Gomila

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