Saturday, July 17, 2010

Planned Obsolescence

My mother has a Kenwood Food Mixer which simultaneously represents everything that is good and bad about the human race to her. The Kenwood, as it is referred to, was a wedding present upon marrying my father.

"It's...What year were you born?"
"Well then it's...(counts on fingers)...9, almost 10 years older than you. And it's never given A DAY of trouble."

They don't make them any more. You can't get them. They don't make them.

Sometimes when at a family get together I can see my mother cast her eye around the particular kitchen, to find what food mixer these people have. The relevant mixer will comfortably confirm my mother's gut instinct. It's not The Kenwood. It doesn't look nearly solid enough. Plastic.

My mother sometimes buys denim jeans from Tesco. They can cost as little as 4 euro. But they're just the same as the ones you'd pay 50 euro for in town. There's no difference. They're the same jeans.

"Sometimes I think they're better."

I was flicking through a colour supplement recently advertising a home-ware sale in one of Dublin's big department stores, probably Arnott's. They listed a Kenwood food mixer that was reduced to 299 from 599. I brought this to my mother's attention to try and explain the Kenwood issue from my point of view.

While I do accept things are no longer 'built to last', it doesn't mean they don't exist. Here was proof the standard of The Kenwood was still available, it was just highly priced. The trend in modern consumerism has long moved away from quality to accessibility. We can have more things, at inferior quality. Most people would (perhaps sensibly) opt to buy a cheaper, inferior mixer rather than the 599 Kenwood nowadays.

I like to believe that, in her day, while people had less, what little they had was of a similar standard to that of the most fortunate. Perhaps you had scant furniture, but you had one item that would not have looked out of place in any house in the city, carefully preserved and passed through generations so you too could have a slight taste of what the good life may be like. (I like to celebrate the grace of other people's poverty maybe.)

Now pragmatism rules; They perform the same function anyway. There's no difference between them really, it's all advertising. They're the same jeans.

My mother wouldn't have a word of this. She'd seen those Kenwoods. They're awful. The plastic knobs wouldn't last a week.

They don't make them any more. You can't get them. They don't make them.

Watching Manchester United over the last few years I constantly hope for the club to address the poor quality of its midfield. Try and find a purposeful, powerful body of players that could comfortably rank against their stellar cast of the 90s. Perhaps a big money signing would do it, preferably from one of their rivals. Or maybe they have a box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Roy Keane waiting in their youth ranks. Something is drastically needed to end this limbo-like stasis of an aged Scholes and insufficient Carrick.

I see they're looking at Joe Cole as a free transfer. The similarities to the Owen signing are eerie.

But he's free.

He's just as good as anyone else.

There's no difference.

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