Brendan and the Magic Jeans

Once upon a time there was a boy named Brendan. He went to high school. He liked to sleep in. He liked to eat pizza. Most importantly, he was nice to his mother. Even though he had a steadfast circle of friends, he longed to be friends with Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole and Ralph Lauren. Their lifestyles looked so glamorous and cosmopolitan.   As alluring as their images appeared to be, they only seemed to have time for Brendan when his wallet was full of money.

When Brendan was not with his friends, he worked a part time job at a gas station. Sometimes he bought fast food with his money. Sometimes he bought I Tunes cards with his money. Sometimes he used his money to go to the movies. And sometimes he bought clothing with his money.

One day, Brendan saw a pair of magic jeans at a department store. “Those jeans must be magic,” he exclaimed, “because they cost $300.00!”.  He went home. “Mom”, he asked hopefully, “Can you buy me a pair of magic jeans?”

“No, his mother replied. (She did not believe in magic jeans, but that was not the point). “We need the $300.00 to buy groceries.” (That was not the point either, even though it was an important point). “If you want those magic jeans, you must buy them yourself with your own money.” (Indeed, this was the point!)

Brendan hung his head sadly. “But it will take me at least a month to earn the money to buy the magic jeans”. His mother nodded. “Even though they are expensive, I must have those magic jeans,” Brendan decided.  Fortunately, he had a job and therefore, a way to earn the money to buy the jeans. He worked and he worked and he worked and he saved and he saved and he saved. Finally, he had enough money to buy the magic jeans.

He went to the department store bought the magic jeans. He put them on and wore them to school the next day. Other than wearing new pants, there was nothing different about that day. Brendan shrugged,  “I guess the jeans aren’t magic after all. “Oh well,” he said (fortunately, he was a relaxed kind of guy) “Even though there is nothing magic about them, I will still wear them.”

Less than a month later, Brendan pulled at a loose thread on the jeans and the pulled thread became a huge rip. He wore them for a while longer anyways. A few weeks later, the seams began to come apart in critical places. “These jeans are stupid!” Brendan declared, and he threw them in the garbage. He never spent that much of his money on jeans again.


2 Responses

  1. Cari Gulbrandsen
    Cari Gulbrandsen

    Authors Note: My son Brendan graciously agreed for me to use his teenage experience as an example of how consumerism can “get you”. He is now 23 and spends most of his income on rent and food. Of course, I dedicate my post to him!

    My intent in using a simplistic “children’s story” style is to imply that media and advertising campaigns treat us, their audiences, like naïve children. As I tried to illustrate with the story, corporations are selling us the illusion of a life style in association with a brand. There is nothing magical about the actual items and in many cases the quality of the designer item is no better than a less expensive version.

    Sadly, there are so many adults waving around designer handbags, trotting through town in expensive shoes and flaunting other pricey accessories. There are living examples across North America of how some people never “get over” or “grow out of” their lust for designer items. We don’t have to look far to wonder where youth get their encouragement to participate in consumerism. Ironically, I have met many more youth than adults who are critically conscious of advertising and consumerism. Their enthusiastic non-compliance, refusal to buy in to manipulation and their acts of resistance inspire me to follow their lead!

  2. right

    The misleading advertising campaigns also include education technology, like online homework grading sites. Educated people buy it, so the equity, the NECESSITY and effectiveness of it are just ignored.

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