OPINION

Mass consumption

Mass idols, mass sales, mass culture – in effect, globalization. Before the new Harry Potter book has even gone into circulation, a million schoolchildren worldwide have bought it over the Internet. Before David Beckham arrived in Madrid, orders for tens of millions of Manchester United T-shirts were canceled, while millions of orders for Real merchandise were placed. In both cases, the customers are buying into the same thing – their fantasies. In both cases, they have the false notion that they are acting of their own volition, although in reality they are behaving like addicts, like puppets whose strings are pulled by a massive system that produces, distributes and imposes images: images of idols, of soccer stars, of child magicians. Any soccer coach or fan worth his salt would tell you that Beckham is no better than Luis Figo, whom Real bought from Barcelona in 2000 only to sell him to Inter in a payoff for Ronaldo’s transfer to Real. Beckham may strike better free kicks than Figo but that is not enough to make him a star player. Beckham’s real advantage is to be found elsewhere. The Figo firm is winding down, while Beckham’s business is in high demand, which means astronomical returns for whoever can afford to rent his glory. David Beckham is as real as Harry Potter. Both are products of the star system, both created for consumption by icon worshipers who, for the most part, have little interest in either soccer or reading.