Let’s End Unboxing Videos

One of the oddest manifestations of the Cult of Conspicuous Consumption are “unboxing” videos. Just search “unboxing” and you’ll find tons of YouTubers documenting every stage of unpacking a newly purchased product (even incredibly banal ones) as if it were a rare and delicate archaeological artifact, and often with the same breathless exuberance such a discovery might elicit. I don’t hate them, though. I’ve watched a few, and I think that they appeal to the curious, always foraging monkey brain that’s still lurking under all of that fancy-pants upjiggered human temporal cortex.

In any case, I think that this guy nailed the worst attributes of unboxing videos. Funny stuff.

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  • Gjallarbru

    The video does say it all. Why exactly would I want to see people unbox their stuff? If anyone here actually like that idea, would you mind explaining why this is of interest?

    Frankly, things could come in a brown paper bag and I couldn’t care less. I only care as to how good a product is. I’m strange that way…

    • BrianApocalypse

      They can be vaguely useful to get a glimpse of limited editions of products that come with extra stuff, but the actual unboxing part is pretty redundant really.

      • Gjallarbru

        Most limited editions of products also mention the content on their site. And those same products usually have pictures to promote them. So I get your point, but I’m still not convinced that such stuff is useful.

        I think this is more a “look at what I got” thing than trying to help the consuming public.

        • BrianApocalypse

          Yeah and there’s something almost fetishistic about it too. It’s like they are trying to prolong the moment between purchase and ownership, when the product is still pristine, mysterious, and veiled behind its corporate ‘glamor’. Showroom perfection that begins to disintegrate on contact with air.

          Schrodinger’s consumerist box.

          • drokhole

            There certainly seems to be that ritualistic element to it. It sort of builds anticipation by delaying gratification which is growing more and more necessary because, like you said, it losses most of its psychological allure and abstract eminence the moment it becomes a reality. They try to extend the routine as long as possible because the crash after the “reward” is coming quicker and more severely. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard and seen people who clamor and wait in line for the latest iGizmo talk about how let down they feel only 5 minutes after they start using it…and yet they’ll return year after year.

            Reason being, the “thing” people think they want really amounts to experiences and sensations they want. I can’t take credit for the following insight, but someone I interacted with elsewhere posted it and I thought the exact way they put it was brilliant:

            “Our model of consumption was rationally planned. The social environment was created and we began to respond to it because we are not so much suckers for stuff but for the symbolic nature the are stuffed with – the newer model phone you crave is merely a vehicle for the identity creation you actually desire, it’s not the new phone you want but a new you to parade through a culture where status and self-worth has be defined by the shininess and complexity of the industrially produced personal identity.

            So in a strange way the stuff we are drenching in is almost an irrelevance. What we want is status and well-being, to be recognised by ourselves and others as rightful members of life. To be respected. To be loved and to love. But the stuff we consume has a homeopathic dilution of status and well-being so we drown ourselves trying to achieve the unachievable.

            It’s not our stuff that has inbuilt obsolescence, it’s our society.”

            So, there’s a bit of the status and “look at me”-ness at play, as well. Laying claim to being “First!”. Also, racking up the “likes” and “views” satisfy that same craving and serve up their own hits of dopamine. And popular products are guaranteed to bring in more than a few eyeballs, particularly near their release date.

          • BrianApocalypse

            I always found it weird that so many people rush out to buy things like new games consoles on the first day of release, when they are at their most expensive and least useful (not many games.) You’d think they would have learned by now, but that craving for status overcomes all other sense.

            I remember once walking through a huge brightly lit shopping mall, being bombarded with these luminous commercial signals all around, and thinking… if it wasn’t for the wasteful nature of these products and the social context they’re available in, I could almost get behind it. But before I could ever buy in to it, we’d have to be living in the kind of utopia those products let us pretend we’re living in.

          • Gjallarbru

            I think you nailed it.

          • Calypso_1

            In the context of a ‘consumer’, I would say that links to instinctual food preparation/acquisition is involved. Not that this cannot be fetishized as well.

          • Matt Staggs

            Good point.

    • DavidC

      I’m only interested in unboxing videos of hobby products like model kits and miniature games. It can be nice to see exactly *what* comes in the kit before you buy it.

      • Gjallarbru

        Well, if the information is missing in that industry, then yes I understand the point.

        • DavidC

          Yes, I wasn’t even aware that there are unboxings of regular consumer stuff. I can’t see the point of average product unboxings. With models and games I really can get a sense of sculpting and casting quality and if the kit looks like something I would enjoy.

      • Matt Staggs

        I’ve made a couple of those for my fellow gamer nerds. Totally get it.

  • jasonpaulhayes

    Product reviews have been reduced to simple “unboxing videos” for the mere syphoning of shared ad revenue from the many commercial interruptions… and by commercial interruptions I mean “advertising experiences”.

  • Thurlow Weed

    Persons who create these unboxing videos experience sexual arousal. It is a reaction to a stage of their psychosexual development that was frustrated.

  • http://politicalfilm.wordpress.com/ polfilmblog

    I’ve ranted on this previously. Camera geeks are notorious. It sort of pegs you as someone who wastes bandwidth and other people’s time.

  • Matt Staggs

    Just a theory: A lot of people who like these may be more interested in seeing things unboxed than the things themselves. They may be like the people who enjoy this stuff: http://everyday-carry.com/

  • BuzzCoastin

    unless they’re unboxing a hot babe
    I’m a proly gonna skip it
    butt
    as Weed has implied
    the watchers have a peculiarly prurient arousel to unboxing
    a purely 21st century mastabatory aid to the digital consumer
    brought to hue by your friend the internet

    • Thurlow Weed

      I just made up that shit but it could be true. I must refer back to my class notes from Harvard Cable TV Institute.

      • BuzzCoastin

        I studied phrenology at Yale
        Lock & Hardwired U
        under Sigmoid Fraud
        he asserted that unboxing was autoerotic
        and that
        people no longer need to shop or have sex
        thanks to explicit unboxing

        Unboxing: a 21st Century Erotic Phenomenon
        Fruad, Malicious, Jung et al
        Yale Lock & Hardwired U 2010

        • makayli verran

          My Uncle Aiden got an almost new cream Lincoln MKS Sedan by
          working part time off of a laptop. have a peek here C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Echar Lailoken

    What the world is missing is reactions to unboxing videos.

    • Matt Staggs

      That would be freaking hilarious. Just staring at a camera screen with an irritated expression for seven minutes.

      • Echar Lailoken

        Or… Someone overcome with such rage that they destroy their computer.

      • drokhole

        Perhaps a more fitting accompaniment would be a “pre-action” video. It would involve them recording themselves taking a seat at their computer, swiftly moving the mouse to wake it from sleep mode, slowly entering their password one deliberate keystroke at a time, moving their cursor with utmost care over their internet browser icon, unleashing its contents with an emphatic double click, entering YouTube’s web portal, finding that glorious new unboxing video, all leading up to that climactic click…”play”…ahh…excuse me, I have some cleaning up to do…

  • http://americancannibal.org/ American Cannibal

    I never even heard of this before. Unboxing? Hey, people got to do something between birth and death. Might as well do this dumb shit. There are millions of others producing and consuming football, which is as stupid and useless an activity.

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