Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Pizza Hut Theory (Commodity Corner: Part One)

There are so many other things that I should be writing now, but a post (or two) on dialectics necessitates a post on "bad infinities" so here goes.

Have you ever seen a commercial for Pizza Hut (or Dominos for that matter) that advertises some new twist on pizza? Something like "new stuffed crust," "double layer,"or some other needless improvement on a basic formula that really does not need improving. If they are not advertising some variation on pizza then they are advertising some kind of breadstick, or something that you can dip into somekind of sauce. No sooner are these things introduced then they disappear. Well why do they do this? It could just be that "Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. "

I think that there might be a little more to it than that. First of all pizza is generally pretty popular, so it is a bit hard to imagine that there are potential consumers out there who are saying themselves "I would try that Pizza-thing if only the crust were stuffed somehow." So it is not an attempt to expand the market. At the same time pizza is so popular that every town has its little mom and pop places, regional chains, etc., which are generally more popular than the major chains. So I can only think that all of these "innovations" are an attempt to move the pizza commodity from formal to real subsumption, to get it so pizza exists as something that only a major corporation can deliver.  The stuffed crusts, dipping sauces, and other innovations are an attempt to beat the petit bourgeois purveyors of pizza through superior technology (I imagine stuffing crust involves some kind of compressed air gun or some other device not found in your average pizza parlor). To bring it up to speed with the rest of the staples of American fast food, which are primarily consumed in their name-brand variations.


nihilist said...

What is important, of course, is your point that pizza is no longer a food item to be eaten but a commodity with a "brand." The difefrence is that one is not purchasing a food item any more, but an image, an idea, a style, etc. Even the moms and pops pizza stores only become popular for their style and image (as a mom and pops, different from a big multinational). And yet again, bringing adorno and Horkheimer, the pizza brands are equally the same and are only different in theor packaging and their target audience: the clientele for pizza hut, domino's, papa john is not that different from the clientele for banana republic, the gap, and old navy. "Material life" is purely "immaterial" in that sense, and food items, liek designer clothes, cater for a niche of consumer subjects always looking for the "new" and the "different" (i.e., the latest packaging of the same item) so that they can experience "revolution" on a daily basis and realize how "free" they are!!

Elementary, but isn't it always? Don't you think the difference in brands such as "analytical" and "continental" philosophy--or more specifically, Deleuzian, Marxist, Heidegerrian--serves the same purpose? But is anyone buying? Is the market ready for a "new" and "original" product?

Maybe people in philosophy are not meta-ideological enough to assess their own modes of subjectivization... or maybe they do, but are there adequate means of conveying that--or are we stuck with one becomes two???

Just kidding around.
this what a blog is for?

Ginger said...

Your essay made me think of eggs and butter. Most people in Western society don't realize how simple and delicious butter made at home is, and it's less expensive than store-bought. Same with eggs from hens we raise ourselves, with the added bonus that they're packed with nutrition and generally a hundred times cleaner than factory farm eggs. The bonus is the chickens have higher quality of life. But big business has sold us the concept that they're creating a convenience for us. I think you're saying the same thing (only better) about pizza. Pizza is super easy to make and I like homemade pizza far better than commercially bought. Our society has developed a chronic rash of ineptitude; in other words, most people believe they're incapable or at least inept at creating good meals at home, or that it's too time-consuming.

Good article, Thank you.