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By Susan Willis

What occurs whilst a Marxist feminist is going to the grocery store? Why is Michael Jackson the imperative expression of commodity tradition? In A Primer for lifestyle, Susan Willis places lifestyle and its artifacts on the middle of her research of capitalist tradition. Interrogating the which means of such daily goods as kid's toys, plastic packaging, banana sticky label emblems, and aerobics sessions, Willis investigates the phenomena of recent tradition and commodity fetishism. Grounded in Marxism and guided via feminism, A Primer for lifestyle goals to develop the sphere of cultural feedback to include types and practices now not addressed via the media or media feedback. Willis demonstrates that the trivial is necessary for an knowing of capitalist tradition and encourages the advance of a serious point of view on lifestyle.

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This is a population whose oppression was ensured by debt peonage and inefficient farming techniques. Sharecropping may have been the basis for the landowner’s profits, but it did not provide large-scale accumulation either for the sharecroppers as a class or for the South in general. Rather, it solved the problems of excess labor at a time when there was no need for a larger urban workforce. It also ensured a labor reserve whose destiny was never full integration with industrial production except during periods of war (notably the Second Woild War, when thousands of tenant farmers left Appalachia and the Deep South for jobs in such cities as Muncie, Detroit, and Chicago).

Today, 2- and 3-year-olds request toys regularly. They know exactly what they want and the brand names as well. Two of today’s most popular children’s toys are Barbie and He-Man. Barbie has withstood the decades with the same pert nose, frozen smile, pointy breasts, hard body, and pencil-like long and thin legs. In contrast, He-Man has had trouble remaining popular through two marketing years. His position as top boy toy was supplanted by Lion-O of the ThunderCat TV series and GI Joe, who returned from the Viet Nam era to rival the upstart Rambo.

No longer the exotic commodity, the unique and satisfying object of consumption described in Faulkner’s novel, the banana is commonplace and bought out of habit. There it is —green or yellow; winter, spring, summer, or fall—about the only thing that distinguishes one banana from another is its sticker. I would like to focus on these small adhesive patches, for they are as suggestive of our relationship to commodities today as the banana itself was in Faulkner’s novel. In a society defined by consumption, where the commodity is perceived as separate from its site, moment, and mode of production, commodities seem to offer themselves up spontaneously to the consumer.

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