The haul video I decided to use is almost a year old, but I chose it because of its Black Friday theme.  Black Friday is the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season and is basically a day dedicated to great deals for shoppers; I can’t think of a better example of our consumer culture in play.

 

Betheny explains that she and her parents left to the mall around 1 a.m and finished shopping around 5:30 a.m, and from the footage we see at the beginning of the video, the mall was pretty packed.  The fact that people are willing to trek through crowds and chaos in hopes of getting discount prices shows just how heavily involved our society is with consumption.  Black Friday creates another kind of hardcore “imagined community” of consumers all over the country who are ready to line up at midnight in front of stores and wait for hours just to shop.

The stores Betheny visited consisted of: Sephora, Foreign Exchange, American Eagle, Victoria Secret, Abercrombie, Forever 21, and Bath & Body Works. However, the store visits I’d like to focus on are Sephora, Foreign Exchange, Victoria Secret, Abercrombie, and Forever 21. When discussing her purchases at these stores, she makes sure to focus on the deals she got. For example, in Sephora she talks about a skin care set she got for $10 that is usually $25, a $10 bronzer that usually costs her around $20 or $30, and two magnetic design nail polishes she got for $10 total but usually cost $20 each. She saved about $70 in just Sephora alone. She also made sure to point out that she bought these items as Christmas gifts for other people, so aside from getting meanings due to their great prices, these objects are also getting meaning attached to them through gift rituals.

During her discussion of Foreign Exchange, she talks about how they were also throwing a great buy one get one free sale for the entire store, but she also gives us insight to her taste.  She loves the color of her new suede shoes with the studs on the toe and think they are the “perfect fall and winter shoes,” and she loves the “slouchy” sweater and “how it flows seems really pretty to [her].” We also get to see some her culture capital in this segment as she discusses how she would probably match the lace jeans with a “comfy sweater” and the skulls and cross tank top with a cardigan or jacket, and how she discusses the “cold-shoulder” (as she likes to call it) sweater and blouse she bought. Instead of seeing just a pair of jeans or just a tanktop, she saw an outfit, and the fact that she used the term “cold-shoulder” to describe the tops she bought I feel adds to her culture capital just because had it been me, I would’ve just called it “a sweater with the shoulders cut out.”

In Victoria Secret, she also finds good deals, but they also gave her a free tote bag with a body kit inside after spending $60, and she notes how it’s good quality and that usually things stores hand out for free usually aren’t, which reinforces the idea that prices can give identity or meaning to an object.

I feel that her visit to Abercrombie is important because she makes that statement, “I never really go there because it’s so expensive,” but because everything was 50% off, she was able to purchase a sweater and a pair of pajama shorts for $60 instead of the $120 it would have originally cost her for just those two items.  This made me think about conspicuous consumption and how lifestyle choices such as where we shop can reflect on who we are.  Typically with conspicuous consumption, people will more than likely be required to spend more money than they are used to, trying to obtain that level of acceptance.  However, big sales such as those that happen on Black Friday give people access to that same opportunity without having to spend as much.  In turn, the way their lifestyle is reflected may change. For example, if a person like Betheny, who never usually shops at Abercrombie, buys an outfit on one of their sale days and wears it out another day, people will see she is wearing clothes from Abercrombie and think she probably shops there regularly; they don’t know that it was a big Black Friday special and that’s probably the only reason she went in.

Similar to this, is her visit to Forever 21, where she talks about a pair of $29 boots she got that reminded her of boots she saw at Steve Madden but never got because they cost $150.  She points out the difference in style, but decides for $29 she could care less.  She makes the same point about the following pair of boots, saying how they look like they would be from an expensive store, but they were just $29 as well.

Overall, I think the key things to get from this haul video is that price most definitely gives identity or meaning to an object, and not just in the sense where “Oh, it’s more expensive, so therefore it must be better quality,” but also in the sense where people can be like, “Woah, that’s such a great deal! I have to get it!” Also, how big sales like those on Black Friday and cause a misrepresentation of our lifestyle and economic status just because people don’t know the context in which the items were obtained. If they walk into your home and see you have a 60″ plasma tv, the thought that you got it on sale may cross their mind, or maybe they just might think that the lifestyle you have supports that kind of purchase, not knowing that you got the tv for half-price.

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