Now that the UK is officially in a recession, what is interesting to see is how news organisations want us to visualise economic slowdown.
When the Great Depression is mentioned, a lot of us would pictureÂ people walking around, in sepia, with mouth and browsÂ arced downwards,Â like a sad clown. But where did this image come from? Television, most likely.
ThoughÂ this isn’t a new piece of imagery, call me crazy, butÂ this isÂ how I’ve always pictured it.Â AnÂ episode of the SimpsonsÂ is one example that I can remember where this has been brought to screen, in the scene an ancestor ofÂ Moe Syzlack comments “Oh, jeez, there’sÂ always a line”, when attempting to commit suicide from the top of a skyscraperÂ in 1929 and is greeted by a long line of other jumpers, obviouslyÂ a veryÂ popular pastime when Wall Street crashed.
Today the image used by most major news outlets is the ‘its raining and here are some shops that have closed down, how depressing.’ scene. In this image there is usually 1, but no more than 3 people in the shot. None look interested in shopping in the least. Mostly they are shot speeding past the camera, blur lines and all,Â representative of an entire populous that just doesn’t have the money to buy.
The BBC think that recession is best represented by a Hasidic Jew and a poorly dressed fat woman who hasn’t had theÂ spare money to go to a hair salon in the lastÂ 4 quarters, quite obviouslyÂ representing the length of time that UK growth has been negative and subsequentlyÂ how longÂ it has taken to get the official ‘recession’ stamp.
For quite how long growth will continue to fall, I don’t think anybody knows, but what is forÂ sure isÂ that while we’re in this state there will be a lot more images and depictions of life as it changes significantly. The boom and bust policies of governments and corporations have once again showed us its downside and we’re left kicking ourselves for being so naÃ¯ve as to think that our prosperity would never end.
Where once credit was only an online application away, givingÂ our societyÂ the illusion that we wereÂ flush with cash to spend on luxury cars, binge-drinking and all-inclusive Carribean holidays, many are having to learn new skills in penny-pinching, seeking out deals and shopping with thought. Perhaps then not all is bad? Responsibility being given back toÂ individuals and familiesÂ for their actions and spending is a way of giving back some free andÂ constructiveÂ thought, previously clouded by credit lines that were tantamount to beingÂ unlimited?