First as Tragedy Then as Farce

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Vincent
Writ 111
12 November 2012

RSA Animate

Slavoj Zizek’s “First as Tragedy, Then as Farce”, he is arguing that our society today is a paradox. In his YouTube animation video, he strives to make one point, how charity is the constituent of our economy. In the late 1960’s people’s ideas were moralized around the idea of “anti-consumerism”, as Zizek puts it. He states that way back then, a man would make money in the morning, and by afternoon, and he would give half of his money to charity; in contrast to today, where our society is bringing the two together. When someone buys something today, the “anti-consumerist” mindset is already accounted for.

Zizek using Starbucks as an example by quoting Starbucks’ slogan: “It’s not just what you are buying, it’s what you are buying into”. When someone buys Starbucks, he/she is buying into “coffee ethics”. Starbucks claims to buy more filtrate coffee than any other coffee company in the world, ensuring that the farmers that grow the coffee are getting paid fairly for their hard work. Starbucks invests in programs that promote improved coffee growing practices, as well as a percentage of their prices goes to furnishing their shops nicely for their customers. Zizek calls this “cultural capitalism at its purest”. Consumers nowadays are buying their redemption from just being a consumerist. Another company that does this is TOMS shoes. Their slogan, “1 for 1”, means that for every shoe someone buys, one is sent to a child in Africa.

Zizek states that people are not just buying something, they are fulfilling their ethical duties. He quotes Oscar Wilde by saying, “It is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering, than it is to have sympathy with thought”. Zizek argues that Wilde believes that it is natural human behavior to have sympathy for ugliness, poverty, and starvation. People naturally feel obligated to remedy evils that they see. Zizek goes on, remedies don’t cure diseases, they merely prolong it....
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