Nowadays, when asked what constitutes a good life, many would say it means to have lots of wealth, expensive cars and properties of their own, and perhaps also to be able to dine in expensive restaurants and shop for luxurious designers brands. One may easily notice that all of the things mentioned above are not basic necessities – things that one can live without. But the question here is, why would people think that to have a good life means to have immense wealth and luxurious goods? Wouldn’t a simple life with sufficient food and clothing be good enough? In fact, peoples’ perception of what is a good life is heavily influenced by transnational media.
It is undeniable that we are all living in a global capitalist world. And according to Sklair (2001), a noted globalization theorist, ‘global capitalism survives and capitalists prosper because people are persuaded to consume beyond their basic needs.’ The capitalists has been making every effort ‘to ensure that as many people as possible consume as much as possible, by inculcating beliefs about the intrinsic value of consumption as a ‘good thing’ and the key component of the good life.’ Moreover, the capitalists, ‘after persuading people that the meaning of life is in their possessions, global capitalism has to prioritize the importance of constantly changing and upgrading these possessions.’ Which is to say, it is the capitalists who hammer this idea of ‘the more you possess, the better your life’ into our minds. But then another question arises, how?
In fact, it is the media, or more specifically, transnational media, who does the dirty work for the capitalists. As globalization taking its way, media is undoubtedly an integral part of it. Many global corporate media emerged as a result and subsequently started the supply of multinational media products, such as magazines and TV and radio programmes, to countries all around the globe. These multinational media products have, in fact, been globalizing peoples’ tastes in food, clothing, etc. Take Tatler as an example. Tatler is a magazine which targets the upper-middle and upper class people and reports on the lives of Britain’s most privileged and powerful. We might imagine only the well-to-dos would read this magazine. However, according to the magazine’s editor, Kate Reardon, that was not the case. She spoke on the newly launched BBC TV programme Posh People: Inside Tatler, that their readers includes those who aspire to become members of that world, and that the magazine is encouraging this aspiration. (The existence of this TV programme is a solid proof) What’s more, The name of Tatler has expanded overseas under the name Asia Tatler, with Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Phuket and Indonesia having their own Tatler publications. Due to the circulation of these multinational media products, peoples’ values have gradually changed, perhaps without their knowing so, and as a result their perception as to what is a good life has also been altered. This has everything to do with the well-to-dos, who are wealthy enough to owning and controlling newspapers and telecommunications to spread of ideology of capitalism. (Crouch, 2011)
Multinational media have, to a large extent, altered peoples’ perception of what is a good life. And the capitalists are the one to triumph as they have everything to gain on this score; whereas many people are enslaved to the idea of asset culmination.
Leslie Sklair, The Transnational Capitalist Class, Blackwell Publishers, 2001, pp. 10 – 11, 20 – 22
Lee Artz, Yahya R. Kamalipour (ed.), The Media Globe: Trends in International Mass Media, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp. 175 – 180
Posh People: Inside Tatler. BBC. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04smrqh [Accessed 2 December 2014]
Colin Crouch(2011), ‘The Market and its Limitations’ The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism (polity Press), pp. 47