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Feed Final

Feed Final

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Published by Kyle Bearhome

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Published by: Kyle Bearhome on Oct 09, 2012
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07/28/2013

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Kyle BjoremENGL3840Lahaie11/29/11Rebellion in the
 
One Dimensional Society: Egological Consumers vs. Ecological Citizens in
M.T. Anderson‘s
Feed 
In M.T. Anderson‘s dystopian novel
Feed 
we are presented with a future in whichhumans have taken one of two basic identity sets and
Anderson‘s goal is to make the choice
between the two a conscious moral decision for the reader. One, which is exemplified by Titusand his group of friends, I
call ―Egological Consumers‖. They are shown as being intensely self 
-centered in their thinking and mode of being. Their entire consciousness has been co-opted by
the ―feed‖ itself, an implant, which bombards their brain with constant advertisements geared
towards them specifically and encouraging them to consume goods in order to keep up with
trends (to be ―brag‖) and not be seen as uncool. This is the majority
of the American population
in Anderson‘s vision of the futur 
e, but rebellion is not unheard of. The identity set that I contrastTitus and his friends with are those I call Ecological Citizens. These are people who have notbeen entirely co-opted by the feed and represent a resistance to the vacuous consumerist cultureof self-imposed ignorance. The three main examples of the Ecological Citizen are Violet, herfather and the vague entity of the Global Alliance. The divergence between these two groupsrests
upon who has and who has not been transmogrified into a ―One
-
Dimensional Man‖ (or woman). The concept of the One Dimensional Man is explicated in Herbert Marcuse‘s
One- Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society,
published in 1964 and
hailed as one of the canonical texts of the ―New Left‖ emerging at the time. Marcuse himself was
a member of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists, also including Theodor Adorno and Max
 
Bjorem 2
Horkheimer, though he emigrated from Germany to the United States earlier in his life to escapeNazi-ruled Germany.
One-Dimensional Man
examines the political, social and cultural controls that reduce thedimensions of individuals in an industrial capitalist state. Marcuse perceives the association of capital and technology as constituting new forms of social control and domination. An extensiveprosperity satisfies basic wants and the satisfaction distracts people from argument
 – 
from
observation and critical analysis: ―Independence of thought,
autonomy, and the right to politicalopposition are being deprived of their basic critical function in a society which seems
increasingly capable of satisfying the needs of individuals through the way it is organized‖ (4).
But is a society such as this inherently dangerous? What are the things that some people arepropagandized and blinded by consumerism into not seeing and how are they blinded? Marcuse,along with Elizabeth Bullen and Elizabeth Parsons, share similar thoughts:
[…] we are confronted with th
e fact that advanced society becomes richer, bigger andbetter as it perpetuates the danger. The structure makes life easier for a greater number of 
 people and extends man‘s mastery over nature. Under these circumstances, our mass
media have little difficulty in selling particular interests as those of all sensible men. Thepolitical needs of society become individual needs and aspirations, their satisfactionpromotes business and the commonweal, and the whole appears to be the very
embodiment of Reason […]
(11).Bullen and Parsons, speaking more to the nature of the danger itself, state that:We have now reached a stage of techno-economic progress in which the socialproduction of wealth is systematically accompanied by the social production of risk.
 
Bjorem 3
Scarcity is no longer the most significant problem in the West; in its place capitalistexpansion is creating chemical, nuclear, ecological and lifestyle risks as well as political
hazards like terrorism […] The individual is politically disengaged and, instead
, co-opted
into the ideology of the market, currently associated with […] corporate capitalism,
rampant consumerism, and a raft of social and environmental side effects (128).Chemical risks (everyone sprouting legions), ecological risks (the last forest destroyed for the
sake of an ―air factory‖; toxic lakes) and lifestyle risks (the banality of life; the emotional
deadening) are all perfectly apparent in the world of 
Feed 
, though only a few seem to have eyes
to see. Those who have not become completely ―politically disengaged‖ and ―co
-
opted‖ are
relegated to obscurity and ridicule at the hands of ignoramuses such as Titus and his friends.Titus et al. strike me as the kind of people who would populate the Capitol in Suzanne
Collins‘
The Hunger Games.
Perhaps not the
elites
of the Capitol, but rather the bourgeois. Theconsumers must live a life of ignorance and subliminal rationalization of the costs to the Districtsthat their lifestyle requires. They do not think, for instance, of where the coal comes from thatthey use for energy. The sign of a true egomaniac or narcissist is that they simply do not take intoconsideration the consequences of their own actions, or take responsibility for the harm theirlifestyle may be inflicting on others. Titus and hi
s friends ―feed‖ on the rest of the world for 
products (who makes them all?) and natural resources (what is all of this crap made out of?).Another way of looking at the title would be that Titus and his fri
ends are themselves the ―feed,‖
what the corporations feed upon, the economic generators, the people who buy the superfluoushigh-fashion (hip styles change by the hour) and other nonsense. They are pure consumers andtheir only purpose is to make money for the corporations that constantly inundate them withadvertising.
Even their slang is a symptom, as Bradford points out: ―The term ―unit‖ […] signals

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