The great University of Wisconsin is famous nationwide for the progressive political conscience of its student body. Sadly, the progressive stance of Madison's students seems to be a phase most of them grow out of by graduation, after which they succumb, in droves, to materialism and overconsumption.
Evidence of this trend is obvious to any attendant of an alumni-infested Badgers sporting event. After taking a seat at the Kohl Center, one has only to glance quickly around to get a good look at one of the thousands of red-clad consumption machines who are more commonly known as upper-middle-class Wisconsin alumni.
They are easy to identify. Usually they attend games with their kind-looking, but submissive and clueless wives clinging to their arms, or with their stoic, spare-tire-sporting husbands standing at their sides and staring off into space during time outs.
Typically, they are overly clean, and smell of laundry detergent, deodorant, cologne, perfume, lipstick, soap, hair dye, Rogaine, Viagra, blush and aftershave. Their hair is always neatly trimmed, and the men's faces are always scraped clean with razors on a daily basis, while the women's are painted unnatural Revlon hues.
A glance at one of their back pockets will reveal a jingling set of new car keys emblazoned with a Cadillac, Volkswagen, BMW, Acura, Lexus or Mercedes logo, and the swelling ass under their new jeans is evidence that the only way they travel is by pushing the gas pedal.
The purpose of listing the ridiculous amount of products these alumni
eed"" to get through their day is more than just poking fun at them or pointing out their gluttonous consumption of material goods. It is a warning.
Every spring, the thousands of Wisconsin graduates who walk across the stage and receive their diplomas become the prey that is easiest to capture and most delicious to devour for marketing executives world-wide. Marketers find these grads easier to catch than Dick Cheney in a footrace.
In a report on consumer behavior published in American Demographics Magazine, an executive at a strategic marketing company relayed that college graduates are ""extremely malleable,"" and ""develop associations with brands for life,"" and companies that ""fail to reach"" college students face missing out on ""billions of dollars of lifetime consumer spending.""
This ominous group of marketers claims plenty of victims from the ranks of Wisconsin graduates, and turns them into the consumer zombies who file in and out of the Kohl Center twice a week, and this spring's class is their next target.
The battle facing the 2005 graduate who wants to avoid becoming a walking dollar sign for big marketing firms is not an easy one, but it is worth fighting because consumerism is a disease that affects more than just the purchaser of the interesting product.
In a world with limited resources, one person consuming more means other people are consuming less. The evidence is everywhere; some starve while others grow obese, some live in massive, suburban homes while others patch together huts out of mud and sticks.
Not only is the life that the unaware, materialist zombie leads unrewarding, but it is also cruel and thoughtless, since it directly impinges on the rights of other human beings to possess the basic necessities of life. One could probably buy food for a poor family for a year just by pawning the goods that could be stripped off a Kohl Center-going pair of alumni.
Graduates must do what is right and consume less for the sake of the rest of the world and themselves. Those without the basic need of life will thank them, and they will thank themselves for not turning into the over-fed, over-groomed and over-paid alumni that plague the Kohl Center every game night.