Walmart: An American Artifact

Topics: Culture, Yosemite National Park, United States Pages: 2 (637 words) Published: January 31, 2014
 Culture frames what has become widespread among a group of people. Within a culture you can find the symbols, codes, characters, and artifacts that together have designed a bigger picture- a way of life. An artifact in a cultural context is anything created by a human that reflects his or her personal culture. In order to exemplify this essay’s point I will focus on a living cultural artifact that I think depicts present day American Culture most fully: the discount superstore. The American superstore Walmart is currently the most profitable business in the world. Walmart's bargain prices promote the vicious cycle of overconsumption that now defines American Culture. America's largest company may be doing more harm than good, and the debate continues over whether or not the convenience is really worth the social and environmental consequences.    American consumers generally think that the world works the same way that Mary Poppin’s bottomless bag does. Advertising campaigns done by large retailers such as Walmart enforce ideas that Americans are entitled to getting “good deals” and owning pretty much whatever they want. It seems as if Walmart would be the perfect way to support prosperity and the American Dream but the company is not all smiles. As activist Kalle Lasn has illustrated, “We have evolved into a smile-button culture. We wear the trendiest fashions, drive the best cars industry can produce and project an image of incredible affluence—cool people living life to the hilt.” (Lasn xiii) When a society becomes ruled by materialism shoppers are no longer in control- the source of the materialism is. Advertising companies are that ruling power and Americans are exceptionally willing to serve them.      Walmart claims to fuel local economies, provide great jobs, and give people the prices that they need. The reality is that a Walmart absorbs a lot of the profit that small businesses rely on and instead of many unique stores you get one giant superstore...
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