On Simplicity

May 4, 2008

Image and Affluenza

Filed under: Blogging,Simple Living — Serendipity @ 3:28 am

I just finished watching Affluenza (checked out from the local library, of course), the DVD battle cry of voluntary simplicity fans and anti-consumerists. It’s been lauded by many and it makes some fabulous points. However, I walked away with one giant criticism: virtually everyone shown living is simple life is, well… less than attractive. This film was first shown in 1997, so part of that lies in the fact that everything shown is dated by a decade. Still, the vast majority of those shown living a simple life looked like they were pulled out of 1982. So, this brings up a big question: does the simplicity movement need to market itself better?

My answer is a nearly unqualified “yes.” “Voluntary simplicity” and “hippie” are not synonyms, nor should they be. Yet in Affluenza, what group is highlighted? A group of “revolutionary” young people in, of course, Santa Cruz, California. They were tie-dye and not one has what could even remotely qualify as a hairstyle. Should these young people be our role models and spokespeople? If the “It sickens me” commentary of one youth is indicative of their regular attitude, then hopefully not.

Simplicity–for the majority, for the everyday, for the average–isn’t about anger with society, or rebelling against style, or even about not shopping. It’s about living with a bit less, not nothing. It’s about being yourself, not a mall clone, or a dated stereotype. So when the voluntary simplicity movement brands itself with people who seem to refuse makeup and dismiss personal style and pleasure as frivolity, then it’s no wonder that more people are far more interested in staying consumers.


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