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Week 5

Leisure in Nature as Commodity and Entertainment

Leisure and entertainment in nature are increasingly promoted as a consumption opportunity. When this occurs, it mitigates and clouds our experiences with the natural world. It is clear that today’s marketplace encourages us to think of free time as yet another consumption opportunity and recreation as just another market. It is as if people can’t enjoy leisure activities without the assistance of material goods and purchasing things that ultimately should be incapable of being bought or sold – for example camping outdoors. It is almost absurd to note that some campsites even offer free wireless internet now. People continue to spend a great deal of income on leisure-time purchases and even companies promoting environmental causes and fair working conditions ultimately promote consumption. For example, Patagonia a outdoor equipment and clothing retailer uses short narratives and stories throughout its catalog to “work around any guilt related to consumerism? (Corbett, 111). Corbett also points out that the models are thin, handsome, and happy; the nature backdrops are sublime. Just as we are taught by relentless advertising methods that we should view females in a certain way, I think this shows that we are even trained in the ways we think about nature. I know I personally would have to admit I am a sap for the messages in many of these catalog essays (specifically REI) that suggest I can leave my regular life behind and develop some kind of relationship with nature (by purchasing the right gear, of course). I thought it was interesting that there is a section of this chapter called “The Weather Doesn’t Give a Damn!? because it points out that forecasts present weather as a phenomenon that’s anthropocentric, to be controlled, and with which we connect most strongly through consumption and leisure. We base many activities around this and often personify and blame the weather claiming, “it ruined our weekend? or “wreaked havoc? on us. Corbett says the fact remains that “the weather doesn’t give a damn! ‘Mother’ nature doesn’t care whether you want warm sunshine on Saturday, or snow at Christmas? (115). There are ads for specific weather related conditions like socks during cold snaps and nasal sprays during allergy reports.
In other instances of the “hybrid consumption? linked to nature, places like Disney World that promote fantasy lands and land pavilions with fake although lifelike nature scenery all promote fusing of consumption items. This includes food, drink, merchandise, entertainment and lodging all in one location so people will stay longer and spend more. Creating a “destination? has been utilized by casinos, cruises, theme parks and shopping malls as a means of getting people to do this. One example that comes to my mind is the Rainforest Café where you can eat, enjoy the scenery of real fish swimming behind tanks right next to the table, enjoy the technologically created “atmosphere? of the rainforest, sometimes see real animals like snakes, take picture with the fake ones and buy a whole slew of rainforest related merchandise all in the same place. Despite all of the commodification regarding nature, sometimes it is difficult for people to remember that leisure also provides us with many things that ultimately are incapable of being bought or sold: peace, relaxation and spirituality.

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