Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shop Till You Droop

Just so y'all know, there'll be a proper movie buff post in the near future; I need to watch Zoolander in the near future for my audit course, and that will shore up the numbers I need to make the post a proper length. But for now, here's a post on what I did yesterday.

Speaking of my audit course, we took a field trip yesterday to a newly constructed Shopper's Drug Mart, to analyze it in terms of aesthetics and design. Sometimes, when you take some ordinary facet of life and really pay attention to it, you are rewarded with a sense of wonder and delight at the intricacies of humanity. And some times, you realize how incredibly weird people really are. This trip was definitely leaning towards the latter.
Shopper's kept its extreme, high-end beauty products in an area sealed off from the rest of the store by two archways--and you had to go through this area to enter the store proper. The actual merchandise was display case after display case after kiosk of very expensive beauty products, culminating in a massive perfume display with bottles that started around $50 and averaged around $100.

In general, there was a pretty stark gender divide between products. My favorite female-oriented product was L'Occitaine's Immortelle line of "anti-aging skin creams." In a single word, it conveys a sense of foreignness, plant-based healing, and the feminine. Not to mention a claim for out-and-out immortality. When you get right down to it, a lot of aesthetics is marketed towards exploiting a fear of aging, but you almost have to admire a company that is this aggressively forthright about it. The product'swebsite also uses starkly suggestive language: "Immortelle anti-aging skin care reduces signs of aging by multiplying collagen production, improving microcirculation and fighting against free radicals." Note the repetition of "aging," and the focus on improving, which makes old age sound like some sort of disease that you should do your best to get over. Or like a peasant uprising that needs to suppressed--gotta show those free radicals who's boss, doncha know.

And then they go and toss out all that rhetorical clout on the "Read the True Story" link (which in itself is an amazingly weird concept--does that imply the story up to this point was a lie?), when they use the word "extraordinary" twice in two consecutive paragraphs. Extraordinary: fantastic, wonderful, fascinating, unique, special, wondrous, amazing. This is not a topic lacking in synonyms.

As for best male product, I'll spare you the analysis and skip straight to the picture:

Diesel's "Only the Brave." IT IS A PERFUME BOTTLE SHAPED LIKE A FIST. Words fail to describe this glory.

There are pages and pages of other things I could discuss here. One parting shot: the store's staff--while in general very helpful and easy to talk to--were absolutely adamant in refusing to allow us to take any photos. Combine this with the fact that their electronics section was entirely dominated by advertisements pushing their digital camera services, with an emphasis on capturing and cherishing a given moment through its digitization. The store was very intent on presenting ways to control and immortalize images, especially its own image. I guess that's only fitting; controlling the image, after all, is what the cosmetics is all about.

Oh: side note. A friend of mine just launched a blog of his own, and it can be found here. It's good stuff. And by mentioning it on my own blog, I am showing just how supportive I am and how I not at all feeling very, very threatened by its mere existence.

Later Days.


cait said...
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Anonymous said...

I took this course. It was fun. We also did the Shoppers Drug Mart field trip.

Let me know what you think of the "Walk-Off" in Zoolander. Fantastic!

Did you do the analysis of toys? That was fun. Especially Barbie and Bratz. Terrible stuff.

I think we also did a unit on makeovers. I compared a digital makeover (www.dailymakeover.com), with an actual makeover at MAC cosmetics in Fairview mall. It was a fun and enlightening assignment. I wrote my final paper on the film "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore. What a great course!


Person of Consequence said...

"Yes, but what about how the majority of these products are introducing toxins into our bloodstream?

We're all gonna DIE, *******. WE'RE GONNA DIE! And not of nice natural causes at the age of 92. We're going to be stabbed with pitchforks in the middle of the forthcoming water crisis.

(The problem with the environmental movement is that it makes me talk like this)

Cait said this, and then I deleted her comment 'cause it had my true name. Which I try to conceal here, because I'm really Rumpel---ah! Can't get me that easy!

In response: True, most of these products are extremely, extremely harmful, and on a scale that makes mad hatters seem quaint and hilarious. I try to take consolation in the knowledge that if I lived, say, five hundred years ago, my near-sightedness, asthma, and general comportment would have meant I probably wouldn't have lived very long anyway, so it all washes out. As for pitchforks--not a lot you can do about pitchforks. Hopefully, the government will create a registry to monitor the use of these dangerous tools.

Person of Consequence said...

@ Karen: We haven't done the toy stuff, yet. I hope we get to it; it sounds like fun. And it would finally provide a justification for my punisher doll. I mean, action figure. I mean, collectible figurine. We're doing the make-over stuff next week, though.

cait said...

Ah, between that and you not replying to my email about personal morality I thought I had offended you. (which I might have, anyway. But anyway.)

The trouble is I've just read this book whose thesis is, "you can change the world. No, really!" And I believed it but now I feel piled on by lots of scary stats. And I'm one of those people who remembers stats so I've had a feeling of impending doom since Sunday morning. It's quite distressing.