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“Lost in the Supermarket”

Posted by purplemary54 on January 3, 2013

I think my brain might be a little lost tonight, because I’m not really settling; I have a bad case of monkey mind.

The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” is sort of the perfect song for that lost, restless feeling.  It’s an indictment of consumer culture and the way people often identify themselves with the things they buy.  (There’s a great Tom Tomorrow cartoon that shows a 50s style housewife standing in front of a pile of stuff with her arms wide open, saying “I’d like some more things, please!”  that projects the same kind of anti-consumer sentiment.)  The guy in the song thinks that if he buys the right things, if he watches the right television programs and knows all about popular culture, he’ll find some kind of meaning and identity for himself.  “I’m all tuned in, I see all the programs, I save coupons from packets of tea.  I’ve got my giant discotheque album, I empty a bottle, I feel a bit free.”  But it’s an empty existence.  Things won’t make you happy.  It might be fun to know all the trivia about your favorite band or TV show or sports team, but it shouldn’t define who you are.

And the problem with defining yourself with the ephemera of the world is that you become. . . nothing.  What happens when your show gets cancelled?  What if the food corporation stops making you favorite flavor of ice cream?  Or worse, what if the thing you’ve based your existence on just fades away into obscurity, lost in the waves of the Next Big Thing (and the next one, and the next one, all of them rising up endlessly like some kind of mutant army)?  Do you just fade away, or do you redefine yourself with whatever is popular at the moment.  “Oh, I used to like that, but. . . ”

“I’m all lost in the supermarket.  I can no longer shop happily.  I came in here for the special offer, a guaranteed personality.  But it’s not here.  It disappeared.”


4 Responses to ““Lost in the Supermarket””

  1. Sandee said

    Amen! Interesting on facebook some of the people posting pictures of their stuff, one person I know posts photos of herself in new fashionable clothes every week. I hope she’s happy, but you gotta wonder about that kind of mentality.

    • I admit that I do like my stuff, but I try not to let things be who I am. After I got over trying to fit in, I’ve never really understood having the newest fashions or anything like that. Although I did buy myself some bitchin’ Wonder Woman high tops the other day.

      • Sandee said

        Wow — I’ll bet those high tops are fierce! Love the way you phrased it — “After I got over trying to fit in…” That’s exactly my story. While it was liberating, I think I went a little too far over the deep end — hahaha!

  2. "HE WHO" said

    I too try not to let things be who I am. I like any music from any genre that makes me “feel”. .

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