Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Consumerism in an Age of Fear

In Plutocracy & Trump we trust (2015)  Mixed media on Cardstock Coasters 4"

2016 will without any doubt be remembered by many of us as a year of great losses (Bowie, Prince & many others) unpredictable politics (Brexit, Trump) as well as global turmoil and ongoing conflicts. At a personal level It's been a rough year not just for me but for many around me. From car accidents to economic hardships and odd situations I can only think of happening in a movie where things go so badly for the protagonist it almost seems like comedy. But the year hasn't ended yet and there are so many lessons to draw from it so far. 

Our Daily Bread (2016) Oil on canvas 36" x 60" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

With the mass media obsession with Donald Trump and fear of his victory (which I should say helped him win the elections) and Trump's scapegoat obsession with terrorism and criminality perpetrated by minorities and non white immigrants (Mexicans & Muslims), the narrative of fear has taken democracy hostage. Fear is an irrational force that does not necessarily reflect the real threats to our lives. Facts (something most people these days seem to voluntarily ignore)  reveal a far more lethal enemy most people aren't even aware of. Curiously this hidden enemy is easily spotted right in front of us.

Consumerist Gluttony (2009) Oil on canvas 20" x 20" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

In an age of fear it's hard to think straight and see what the real dangers are. Under the influence of fear, the masses willingly obey and easily become passive consumers. Consumerism offers an illusory escape which is far more dangerous than what we may be escaping in the first place. It is a wolf dressed up as sheep. In fact, this wolf in disguise makes terrorism, criminality and even war look like a pack of angry Chihuahuas. Think I'm exaggerating? Consider the following:

 " In 2012 about 56 million people died throughout the world; 620,000 of them died due to human violence (war killed 120,000 people, and crime killed another 500,00). In contrast, 800,000 committed suicide, and 1.5 million died of diabetes. Sugar is now more dangerous than gunpowder. Whereas in 2010 obesity and related illnesses killed about 3 million people, terrorists killed a total of 7,697 people across the globe, most of them in developing countries. For the average American or European, Coca Cola poses a far deadlier threat than al-Qaeda".

                             Holy Combo IV (2016) Oil & goldleaf on panel 24" x 30" 
                                                   by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Furthermore the author demonstrates with statistics that consumerism is even bigger and nastier than previously thought being responsible for more deaths than world hunger. Harari states that: "In 2010 famine and malnutrition combined killed about 1 million people, whereas obesity killed 3 million..  In the early twenty-first century the average human is far more likely to die from bingering at McDonald's than from drought, Ebola or an Al-Qaeda Attack".

La Re-Conquista (2012) Oil on wood triptych 18" x 24" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz

Not only is consumerism killing us more than anything else, it's also putting the whole ecosystem at risk. At the current pace of global mass consumption, we can expect many more animal species going extinct , sea levels rise and an increased pattern of extreme weather events that will severely impact the lives of every creature in multiple ways. The Earth's future is on the line and future generations will surely not forgive us for our stupidity. Truth is global warming is real whether you want to believe it or not. 2015 is the hottest year in record with 2016 expected to be even hotter. And you don't even have to be a scientist to realize this. Just turn off the AC, go outside and pay close attention to your surroundings. But we want more jobs because the economy is the 1# issue. That's right, because we need more fearful obedient consumers. Without a habitable planet let's see what will be on the menu...

Maria Mundi (2016) Oil on canvas 50" x 35" by Patrick McGrath Muñiz