Ferrell, Hayward and Young discuss how the shock of defamiliarization creates for a cultural chaos (2008, 60). Richard Curtis talks about how this cultural change is ongoing and constant: "What people choose to hold on to is a reflection of the world that confronts them. This seems basic, but when the pace of change accelerated in the modern era people suddenly noticed the change as if it was new. In the age of postmodernism the change is becoming a defining characteristic of its own. Some say we are now rootless having completely lost tradition" (1994, 8). Indeed, in the age of late modernity and hyperpluralism, there is hostility towards constant change, insecurity and uncertainty, as well as debt (Ferrell, Hayward, and Young, 2008, 60). The irony, however, is that despite all of this, the luck industry continues to flourish, whether it be through casinos, lottery, contests and so forth. Even in Canada we have had television contests like Canadian Idol or X-Factor Canada. Furthermore, this idea of fame, fortune and instant winnings has joined forces with shopping centres. Below is a photograph of Bayshore's 40th anniversary celebrations. You could win tickets for two for an "all evening with Oprah", meanwhile, shop at Sephora so you can look proper for the TV icon. The temptation to figure out what you must do to win these tickets is quite strong - as if you really stood a chance. But, alas, the sham and dream of meeting Oprah through Bayshore is too good to ignore...spend more to win more.
Even culture becomes commodified - these pieces of jewelry showcased at MagPie are, as the sign says, hand crafted in Mexico. For the consumer who is attempting to find a sense of identity by purchasing something new, this advertisement does the trick. Not only are they lovely pieces of jewelry, but they are hand crafted from Mexico - how unique! Furthermore, the advertisement tunes into fears of the consumer: These pieces are in Ottawa for the FIRST time at the MagPie exclusive showcase. The message behind this is if you purchase these items, no one else will have them and you will have achieved a status that not everyone can claim. Anyone can go to Peoples or Mappins in any mall, but shop at MagPie and you will be a top trendsetter.
What must be asked, however, is this consumer ethic worth the consequences? These items are purchased with "you deserve it!" mentality in mind, but does the Mexican craftsman not deserve some acknowledgement or proper payment? Is this not cultural appropriation? These thoughts do not matter in an era where the consumer constantly feels as though they are not good enough unless they buy something to sustain that feeling of worth that is lacked.
Another example comes from Birks. The "She Will Say Yes!" advertisement caught our eye - this woman has no other option than to say yes to that beautiful, sparkling diamond. In particular, most likely a blood diamond. These trivial facts do not matter, though. You both deserve happiness and that comes with marriage. In a world confused with a multitude of beliefs and values, perhaps the most traditional value of all (marriage) will bring security to the otherwise confused couple, all thanks to the blood and sweat of slaves and migrant workers over seas.
But aw, shucks, you deserve it!
Michael Coyle describes shoppers as group of people who, as a result of a hyperpluralized world, are left searching for any sort of direction to free them from a sense of dislocation that they feel even if "it be of the most vengeful and simplistic kind" (2008, 224). Indeed, in both malls, our group experienced the close eyes of other shoppers on us every time we entered a store in a group. The threat of someone stealing - to illegitimately own something in the age of Capitalism where "good" citizens are "good" consumers who earn their money and spend it accordingly is a large threat. While we do not want to speculate, it is perhaps worthy to note that in the case where we saw the young gentleman being escorted out of the Buck or Two, it is most likely a customer who alerted the owner of the "suspicious" behaviour.
Why does this happen, though? What is it about the acquiring of material objects that creates this trivial competition between explorers of the mall? Richard Curtis notes how consumption is no longer for the use of the product, but for it's value and worth of exchange (1994, 18). Furthermore, if consumers are not necessarily purchasing for need or function, but for aesthetics, it is an estranged way of relation (Curtis, 1994, 18). In the era of the mall, shoppers are constantly searching for that perfect, contradictory item that will a) set them a part from others b) give them an identity that is in fact, like many others. The threat of a person deemed "unworthy" (the phenomenon of the other) is the largest issue for the consumer suffering from ontological insecurity. Be it the homeless, students, immigrants, or the general poor, consumers do not want to compete with a class that will threaten that precious status, identity and meaning that they search for. If people purchased for use, this sense of intolerance would diminish. Unfortunately, with hyperpluralism creating uncertainty and plurality of values, beliefs and meanings, tension and confusion is at a high (Ferrell, Hayward, and Young, 2008, 59). In order to secure some sense of identity and diminish the threat of ontological insecurity, consumers take the stance of the vengeful surveiler.
A customer purchasing a chilly treat on a cold, winter day (nonsense at best) watches us with a close eye the entire time.
Hyperpluralism is defined as a phenomenon where "...meanings overlap, values hybridize, and identities collapse upon each other - to the point that 'normal' is no longer a certainty..." (Ferrell, Hayward, and Young, 2008, 59). In terms of the very structure of both Rideau and Bayshore, this could not be any more clear. Rideau Centre currently has about 152 stores, and is in the process of including more. Its space boasts "15.24 acres bounded by Colonel By Drive, Nicholas Street, Rideau Street, and Mackenzie King Bridge" with "1,330 parking spots" (Rideau Centre, 2012). Meanwhile, Bayshore has 165 stores, and is also in expansion to the point of adding "300,000 sq. feet" to its already large property (Bayshore Redevelopment, 2012).
Both Bayshore and Rideau literally have levels upon levels of shopping, all stacked upon one another.
Stores, meaning and identites all piled on one another at Bayshore
A long elevator in Rideau taking consumers where they need to be
Both shopping centres, as mentioned, are under expansion and will be finished in 2015. Both locations are perfect for the consumer who require some sense in a hyperpluralistic world by purchasing. What is interesting, though, despite the amount of variety, confusion, nonsense and messages, both shopping centres are practically identical. While people try to make sense of themselves and try to find a place to belong in a hyperpluralistic world, it is ironic that the mall may bring that sense of comfort for the sole reason of the homogeneity across the board, both domestic or global. Bayshore and Rideau have many of the same stores and brands - there is nothing "new" that could shock a consumer or confuse them, even though the mall as a whole is a location of multiple messages and identities. Rideau Centre even has two Tim Hortons within its space, just in case the shopper needs that comforting cup of coffee from the Canadian chain.
It is no doubt that in such a time as late modernity there would be hyperpluralism; Ferrell, Hayward and Young describe this term as inconsistent and uncertain values, ideologies, beliefs and identities blur and clash together, thus creating insecurity and a recession of personal worth (2008, 56-59). On a simple level, hyperpluralism can be see as basic as multitudes of beliefs, values and identities, which is evident in the late modernity context: In both Rideau Center and Bayshore mall, many of the stores were promoting St. Patrick’s Day. In Old Navy, a t-shirt saying “Do the Shamrock Shake” was found promoting a) St. Patrick’s Day b) Ireland c) McDonald’s d) China (where the shirt was made). In Rideau Center’s A Buck or Two, a fake tattoo sleeve was found promoting a) tattoos b) St. Patrick’s Day c) Both English and French (promotion of Canada and our bilingualism) d) Ireland e) Patriotism to Ireland with the slogan “Erin Go Braugh” and finally, f) China (where it was made). As the text mentions, late modernity allows for all these messages to reach global populations – it is due to globalization that these types of products and identities can be purchased in Ottawa’s shopping centers (Ferrell, Hayward, & Young, 2008, 56).
The luck of the Irish - Get drunk on McDonald's Shamrock Shake!
O' Canada, Our Home and Irish? French? English? Chinese? land...True Patriot Love!