In the past few weeks, our class has covered a wide range of topics. The segments on media and consumerism stood out to me in particular. Earlier this week as I was digesting what I had seen in the “The Story of Stuff,” I heard “Schöne neue Welt,” a German song by Culcha Candela that deals with these issues. The lyrics are a harsh criticism of modern culture. In summary, they state that people today are so consumed by materialism and controlled by media that they are unable to see the effect that their actions have on the environment, mankind, and human happiness. For example, the first verse sarcastically states:
“Jeder sagt es: Klima ist ‘ne riesen Katastrophe,
Doch bald brauchen wir nur noch Bikini und ‘ne Badehose,
Ich will mehr Fastfood fressen, wer braucht schon Regenwald?
Solang mein Konto voll ist und für mich noch Luft zum Leben bleibt.”
Which translates to
“Everyone says it, the climate is a huge catastrophe,
But soon we will only need Bikinis and Swimsuits.
I want to eat more fast-food, who really needs the rainforest,
As long as there’s money on my account and air for me to live.”
Such stark criticism of modern society is rarely found in American Pop Music. It is difficult to imagine Pitbull, Flo Rida, or Justin Bieber making such a song, yet Culcha Candela is an equivalent German artist. I think that this demonstrates that there is an underlying difference between Europe and the United States when it comes to such issues. According to a study conducted at Yale, “the average American produces three times the amount of CO2 emissions as a person in France.”1 Based on my experiences traveling in Europe, I also believe that most Europeans aren’t as consumption oriented as many Americans.
I find it interesting that the issues brought up in “Schöne neue Welt” are rarely discussed in American Politics. Climate change was scarcely mentioned during the Presidential Debates and our consumption-centered society was never questioned. While economic progress has had many benefits, I wish that politicians would acknowledge that it has also had many drawbacks. We have been so blitzed by media and our dialogue has become so economically oriented and that it is hard to recognize that there are detrimental effects of consumerism. While buying drives the economy, it hasn’t helped people live more meaningful lives or attain happiness. Shouldn’t life be about these things rather than having the latest material goods?