Maybe you’ve heard the song Thrift Shop by Macklemore, other than the good beat it provides it sure has some interesting lyrics (besides the profanity). Basically the song talks about a guy going to a thrift shop (Goodwill) to buy some clothes that are “your grandpa’s style.”
The ethics of Thrift Shop is getting the what you want at the lowest cost and not getting “swindled by business” to promote yourself. I think this song provides a window into the ethics of consumer pop culture in that people don’t necessarily buy for necessity or practicality but for the name. I probably do this every time that I go to a Starbucks for coffee. It’s not that it’s the best- but it’s fast and I know that I’ll basically get the same result every time.
A few nights ago I watched “Fight Club” (not for the first time) and was reminded of the clash of identity and value in our consumer culture of being identified by what we buy, drive, eat, and wear. It is also violent in the visual it gives as to how far people are willing to go to be individually and communally whole in our rat-race towards our inevitable deaths.This movie asks questions like “What does it mean to be alive?” and “Are you really making the most out of life?” The main character Tyler Durdin (played by Brad Pitt) reminds us that,
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f—— khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
Personalization and commodification of goods for cheap in Thrift Shop and the violent underpinnings of Fight Club against consumer passions and technological infrastructureare all themes that run rampant in our day and age. As Christians we must learn how to better care about where and how our cheap goods came to anywhere from Goodwill to BabyGap. How was your shirt, shoes, or wallet produced so cheaply and quickly? Was slave labor involved? We must ask many of the questions like what it means to be human and where do we find our value. Our answer should be linked to the Trinity, Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, and the eschatological coming of the kingdom of God where everyone will be seen for their fullness of being made in the image of God and all violence and commodification of people and property will cease!