Benjamin Barber’s *Consumed*

There is actually [sic] a restaurant in New Jersey called Stuff Yer Face, and fast food generally is about stuffing your face: about nutrition, fueling up, taking in the calories, food as instrumentality, eaters as mere animals responding to biological imperatives.

The subtitle of the new book is How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantalize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole.  Here is the restaurant’s home page, with sound.

Comments

The title works even better if you replace "Markets" by "Socialism".

Even more surprising is that stuff yer face isn't bad, at least for college food (it's right next to rutgers).

It's one of the few places on easton ave serving food that you would eat while sober. The beer selection is pretty good as well. It's not a fantastic place, but it's better than the name suggests.

I went to Rutgers. I've been to Stuff Yer Face. Many times.

It just doesn't live to the name. The portions aren't that big. It's very possible to leave from a lunch at that place and have plenty of room for dinner that night. As it should be.

The only thing that's excessive about that place are the drinks, which come in these large "fishbowl" type glasses. That could cause some serious drunk driving, but most of the people who go there are college students who walk over from nearby.

~~~~

Benjamin Barber is an arrogant gasbag. He believes in replacing his preferences in place of everyone else's. He thinks that "we" should be exporting more jazz and less Britney Spears.

His view of markets is more-or-less neo-Rousseauian.

He believes in sort of "directed democracy" even though he won't admit it.

Barber is the type of dude who gives political theorists a bad name. He's typical of the reason that many of the smarter ones go into PHILOSOPHY departments so that they can be free of his ilk.

The dude is a sophist and a very, very, VERY poor man's Michael Walzer.

about nutrition, fueling up, taking in the calories,

As opposed to anorexia, malnutrution, and throwing-up?

food as instrumentality

As opposed to food as an object of mere aesthetic contemplation?

eaters as mere animals responding to biological imperatives

As opposed to space aliens responding to cosmic imperatives?

Barber is a sententious twat. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Stuff Yer Face is actually a great place to eat. The strombolis are great, the beer selection extensive, and the atmosphere...fun. Having attended undergraduate school in Virginia and currently attending law school there as well, I find myself craving such NJ/NY food.

The author's arrogance aside, far too many commentators on every side of seemingly every issue long for some bygone era where things were simply better off. This book, it would seem, ignores the fact that amount of quality cultural products (literature, film, and television) has quite frankly increased.

FYI, Colbert's interview of Barber is available at the Comedy Central website.

So Benjamin Barber was out flogging his glossy hardback to a mass audience on Comedy Central? Are we supposed to laugh with him or at him? Title this one "Markets in Everything: Huckstering Hypocrisy Edition"

Amazon Sales Rank: 854

Not bad.

So the fact that Barber's book is selling well is a vindication of his theory that capitalism stimulates the consumption of needless crap?

And will any of the proceeds from the book will be used to enable the consumption of potable water in Africa? If so, will this undermine his theory? If not, will this discredit Barber as a human being?

The reviews I read of Barber's book all seemed to say that he was taking the old Galbraithian line about how markets generate wants for frivolous products that people would not otherwise have. Here, he seems to say that the market produces something necessary for life cheaply and with no frills and that this is a bad thing.

Of course, as others have already pointed out, Stuff Yer Face is high-end by the (low) standards of Easton Ave. in New Brunswick. It is pretty clear that Barber, a former Rutgers faculty member, never set foot inside.

The Colbert interview is quite funny; he interrupts Barber repeatedly to advertise products. And he opens the show with, "I guess he's here to not promote his new book."

Barber and his ilk are ripe targets for satire, but Colbert wimps out and instead spends most of his time lampooning ads, those instruments of totalitarian mind control that supposedly have us in their thrall. (Barber must be so heroic to rise above and see through them).

Were it true that advertisement overrides consumer sovereignty, then any idiot could make a bundle by taking out a loan and spending 90% on advertising. It wouldn't matter how the other 10% gets spent. You have ads! People will beat a path to your door and pay any price. Forever.

And it's a well known fact that everybody in the ad industry is a millionaire who retires at 35. :^)

There is actually [sic] a restaurant in New Jersey...
I'm kind of confused about the grammar error? what did he do wrong?

Sounds about right. There is a all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ place in Roland Heights, California that is appropriately named "Feedables"

And that would be "emotional imperatives" as this has nothing to do with nutrition and all to do with self-soothing behaviors of the self-medicating category.

Correction:

I looked up "actually" in the American Heritage Dictionary and found a citing for the above-mentioned usage (used to express surprise). So, it may not be improper after all, perhaps only modern. It is nonetheless condescending. The Chicago Manual Of Style might have more information.

I just started reading Consumed. I wasn't impressed with this statement, part of a list of items he presents as evidence of the "infantilization" of American society:

"sexual performance drugs such as Levitra, Cialis, and Viagra (2002 sales of over $1 billion) becoming staples of equally uncomfortable male boomers trying to smuggle atavistic youth in the age of social security."

First, I have to admit I had to look up "atavistic":
"ATAVISM: Reversion to an earlier behavior, outlook, or approach." But is it youth that is atavistic in this sentence or is the desire atavistic?

In any case, erectile dysfunction means a part of the body that once gave you enjoyment has stopped working properly. So is it "infantile" or "puerile" for men who have this issue to use these effective drugs? Or should we call that using medical technology to improve one's life? Doesn't Barber's point sound much like how people used to tell women to stop trying to look feminine or glamorous after, say, 30 or 40?

The notion of criticizing barber for producing a commercial object -- a book -- as a means of critizing a commercial culture is like critizing someone in a movie theatre for asking his neighbor to "keep his voice down" during the movie, when the request itself involves speaking. I don't think barber is saying people shouldn't write and sell books.

Comments for this post are closed