I would first like to talk about Chapter 9, Pachirat. In this Chapter Pachirat is concluding his research as an undercover worker in a slaughterhouse. He is also most importantly talking about the politics of sight. Pachirat suggest something that is very interesting when he says what if you were responsible for killing animals for your own use, would you be able to do it? What if every individual was responsible for killing animals for food, clothing, or anything else we need to survive. I know if this were the case I would not be able to do it. I could not shoot a cow in the head while looking into its sad confused eyes. And because this fact is true for most people we have such things as slaughterhouses. Where the majority of the killing is placed on the hands of one individual, the knocker. This means that out of the 800 workers in the factory they actually believe that they are not apart of the killing that goes on every twelve seconds. They are simply placing livers on hooks to be cooled in freezers, and exported to distant places (238). Why are people so willing to put the blame on this one individual when in fact everyone who works in this slaughterhouse is responsible for the death of every cow that comes through the doors? As I am writing this post I just thought to myself how easy it was for me to put the blame on the individuals who work at slaughterhouses for killing cows and other animals, when in fact I am also responsible for the death of animals. I eat meat regularly and have not even hesitated while at the Coop to order a grilled chicken sandwich since we have started this topic in class. Why was it so easy for me to put the blame on other people? Is it the idea of distancing that Pachirat states that makes it so easy for me to put the blame of the slaughtering of animals on people other than myself. “Distinctions between visible/invisible, plain/ hidden, and open/confined that, in theory keep repugnant activities hidden and therefore make them tolerable” (245). I believe that because I am not on the kill floor participating in the actual killing of animals that I feel less responsible for the death of animals. I am not saying it is right but that is why I feel less responsible.
When I think of the multiple numbers of advertisements I see a day and the amount of commercials one is exposed to it is hard to not be a consumerist society. We are flooded with clothes and toys that we are told we must have. Our favorite actors and actress promote these new and exciting items and suddenly we want them all the more because we feel like if we have these objects we will then be closer to them and feel more important. When things such as advertisements and commercials are apart of our everyday lives one can get distracted. “To increase their capacity for consumption, consumers must never be given rest. They need to be exposed to new temptations in order to be kept in a state of a constantly seething, never, wilting excitation and, indeed, in a state of suspicion and disaffection” (314). This quote makes me think of the movie What Women Want with Mel Gibson. In this movie Mel Gibson works for an advertisement agency and was recently assigned a project where he will be advertising particularly to women. Lucky for Mel he has the ability to read women’s minds and learns everything that he needs to know to sell them his products. Catering the majority of his advertisements and products to the needs and desires of women in order to get them to buy his products. The point I am making is that as consumers we are in a never-ending battle to fight off useless products we don’t need but are told we want. Our every move is watched and studied in order to find a way to cater to us.
By definition a consumer is a person who consumes, and to consume means using things up: eating them, wearing them, playing with them and otherwise causing them to satisfy one’s needs or desires (311). According to Beilharz to consume is to destroy. In the course of consumption, the consumed things cease to exist, literally or spiritually. In the article BIG FOOT by Michael Specter he points out the fact that brands our competing for our attention and will attempt any way possible for us to buy their products. “In Britain, Marks & Spencer has set a goal of recycling all its waste, and intends to become carbon natural by 2012. Kraft Foods recently began a power plant if a New York plant with methane produced by adding bacteria to whey, a byproduct of cream cheese. Not to be outdone, Sara Lee will deploy solar panels to run one of its bakeries in New Mexico” (44). The key words I picked out of this sentence were not to be outdone. This to me means that these companies are not becoming more environmentally friendly because they think it is good for the environment, but that they are hoping to attract more consumers to buy their products in doing so. I’m not sure how I feel about this because yes they are becoming more environmentally friendly but they are doing it for the wrong reason; does this take away from the fact that they did it at all?