A Criticism on Western Consumerism

’Tis the season to be jolly! But… must we be wasteful? 

December is here, and with Christmas just around the corner I felt that it was finally, FINALLY time to crack open the lid on a few well chosen Christmas classics (for the umpteenth time!). Having thrown my school books into a dusty corner of the house, I’ve decided to kick off the holiday season with some Olympic gold-medal level procrastination. That’s right! Instead of doing homework like a grown up, I’ve parked myself in the what is now a permanent butt-print in my favourite nook of the couch, from where I’m steadily bingeing my way through a list of my favourite Christmas cinema. 

    At first my aim was to gradually slip into a brain-numbing trance, embracing my every childish whim – mostly involving Christmas cartoons and diabetic doses of confectionery chocolates – and as I worked my way down my Christmas movie-list I quickly came upon one of my childhood favourites, The Grinch (2000). I can admit without shame that watching Jim Carrey work all of his shenanigans tickled me just as much as it did when I was a little kid. And in my teens… And twenties… And thir– Moving on.

   However, even though I found myself entertained by the film’s profound Christmas-ness, I must admit that the true message of the story hit me harder than ever before. I am talking of course about the obvious criticism on western consumerism. It troubled me to see the extreme extent of materialism that the film exhibits; albeit exaggerated, I still felt that the film was a most accurate description of western attitudes today. Perhaps my feelings of disquiet can be attributed to the hot topic of the 21st century that simply cannot be ignored: that is, the issues concerning our environment. It is impossible to say whether Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known by his street name, Dr. Seuss) had true foresight with regards to the environmental matters now plaguing our society, but surely it is obvious that he was onto something when he wrote “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” in the 1950s. The message of the film being that Christmas isn’t really about materialism at all, but rather about joy, kindness, generosity and general togetherness.

    Now, to a child, there is nothing more important than seeing a tree engulfed by brightly coloured packages, big and small, on Christmas morning. In fact, it is safe to say that for most of us, this is what gives us that anticipatory tingle of Christmas magic. However, there is nothing wrong with occasionally switching things up a little. Investing the time and effort into giving intangible gifts may actually help you connect more deeply with the true meaning of Christmas, and let’s face it, you feel like a better person when you help save the planet one environmentally conscious prezzie at a time. Personally, I feel that nothing says “Happy Christmas” more than a pair of homemade woollen socks which, truth be told, are about the most valuable possession any resident of Finland can hope to acquire. However, if you’re maxed out on socks, or have given yourself carpal tunnel from all the knitting, there are so many other ideas for homemade gifts one could consider giving, instead of the usual avalanche of gadgets, gizmos and widgets.     

   So, perhaps in the spirit of environmental awareness, this Christmas we could prompt ourselves and our nearest and dearest to focus more on quality time spent together rather than on material possessions, which are in fact mostly aimed at distracting our attention away from time spent with our loved ones. To quote Benedict Cumberbatch, who also happens to be the voice of 3D computer-animated “The Grinch” (2018), “love and kindness are the things we need most and the world needs a lot of love and kindness at the moment.” Bearing this in mind, here’s wishing you a joyful holiday season. 🎄