DJDave raps about consumption at Whole Foods
Tags: art/music, class, consumption/consumerism, environment, food/agriculture, health/medicine, marketing/brands, theory, conspicuous consumption, privilege, thorstein veblen, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this rap parody, DJDave (aka David Wittman) raps about his frustrations shopping at Whole Foods, which includes over-priced grocery items, loud shoppers on I-Phones, and over-crowded parking lots. To illustrate useful sociological concepts using this YouTube summer sensation, instructors can begin by simply asking students: Why is this video funny? Instructors can facilitate a conversation about middle- and upper-class consumption practices; specifically, the clip might be useful in a class discussion on Veblen's notion of conspicuous consumption, whereby upper-class consumers carry out very specific consumption practices in an effort to wield social power, whether real or perceived, thereby conveying a particular social status. The video's portrayal of a "typical" Whole Foods shopper involves a host of recognizable consumption patterns, including the foods they eat (organic chicken, kale salad, pinot noir, gourmet cheese, quinoa, kombucha tea), the cars they drive (e.g., a hybrid, Prius, Mini Cooper), the health practices they engage (yoga, cleansing diets), the gadgets they use (I-Phones), and even the social justice initiatives they are financially able to support (e.g., the environment, natural/organic/sustainable foods). A critical perspective might involve a conversation around whether health is a class privilege, pointing to the high costs associated with a healthy American lifestyle. Instructors can further unpack the humor of the clip to illustrate sociological insight by pointing to the choice of musical genre deployed. Given that rap music's origins are largely rooted in a form of social commentary on the struggles of poor and working-class urban communities of color, the "struggles" that Whole Foods shoppers endure while purchasing groceries is clearly cast tongue-in-cheek. Like other clips featured on The Sociological Cinema, this rap parody shows the ways in which art can provide a useful medium for social commentary, as well as sociological insight (e.g., see here).
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