Destroying expensive things on purpose can garner a range of different reactions. Some might feel angry and indignant towards the destruction of something shiny and new and beautiful (by virtue of its novelty, at least). Some might get all pensive and philosophical about the whole thing, perhaps seeing it as a commentary on the human condition. Cheering, support, words of encouragement, and even donations of money may not be the kind of reactions that we can expect out of people witnessing the destruction of a brand new, newly released gadget.
However we might expect people to react, this “social experiment” of sorts has gained traction has become immensely popular. Many expensive gadgets have been smashed by the Smash Our Stuff crew over the years. They have managed to obtain these items through donations, which shows that these activities definitely have considerable support.
Lots of meanings and interpretations can be ascribed to the destruction of brand new gadgets The main goal, however, seems to be the entertainment one can glean from seeing anything, expensive or not, smashed to pieces.
Smashing Expensive Stuff: A History
This all began one fateful day when a group of Canadian men from the website planetboredom.net decided to destroy a much-coveted product right in front of people who covet it so much that they’re willing to stand in line for hours to buy it. The first product the Smash Our Stuff crew destroyed was an iPod, which was quite popular in the early 2000s.
Since that ill-fated iPod, the crew has destroyed an X-Box, a Wii, and a PS3. They also destroyed an iPhone in 2008 in front of a huge crowd at a mall, and an iPad2 in 2011.
The group has managed to afford all these expensive things with the help of donations from a considerable number of supporters. Donations are made through the group’s forum page, which is already defunct. Most of the websites put up by the group have been taken down due to legal disputes, though footage of them smashing stuff is still available on the internet.
What does it all mean?
Stunts like this certainly seem like a performance art piece of sorts, especially since all the smashing is done in front of a large audience. The group certainly is making some sort of statement, which may have something to do with the seemingly mindless consumerism that drives people to wait in line for hours just to obtain a new gadget on the very day said gadget is released. You’ll also notice that in all the videos of the group smashing stuff, the song “The Fallen” by the band Franz Ferdinand plays in the background. The song has a telling lyric: “Just because you like to destroy all of the things that bring the idiots joy”. This seems to capture the intent behind destroying something in front of people who nearly desperately want it.
The group claims that it is all done for fun and entertainment. While that may be true, their actions are certainly an interesting take on the widespread culture of consumerism.
What is it all for?
So, when all is said and smashed, what does the group aim to accomplish? It may make sense that they want people to reevaluate their desires and keep consumerism and materialism in check. Ironically, the group also claims that they can earn quite a lot of cash through the release and sale of their videos, as well as the advertising featured when the video is played.
There is also the fact that smashing objects is fun, and can even be an effective outlet for stress. The videos are also meant to provide some sense of satisfaction to people who are strongly against Apple products and similarly expensive gadgets like the PS3. The videos are also meant to let people enjoy the looks on the faces of those who really want the item being destroyed in front of them.
All in all, it’s all harmless fun. After all, once someone has purchased a product, they are free to do with it as they wish.
How much money goes into this?
The group estimated that they will need $400 to buy the PS3. A total of $674 was collected after many individuals pitched in and donated small amounts. The group itself does not put much money into the purchase of these products and rely almost solely on donations from fans and supporters.
The amount of $400 was the estimated intial emount needed to procure the PS3. This amount was meant to guarantee that the group can easily and successfully pre-order the PS3.
Of course, that much money seems like too much of a waste just so it can buy a product that will be irredeemably destroyed shortly after purchase. However, to the Smash our Stuff crew, that is very much a fair trade. The money spent on the items destroyed seems to be immaterial, and because the funding is crowdsourced, no one person is burdened with spending on the products. People usually donate $5 to $10 dollars, so the individual donations are actually quite small.
How are people reacting to this?
As one can expect, not a lot of people take kindly to the destruction of much-coveted and expensive products. Some take offense at the amount of money spent on something that is going to be immediately destroyed because it all just seems so wasteful. Whether the reactions are mostly negative or mostly positive, the group has trucked on with their activities.
Some people have also expressed skepticism about the donations. The group has made it clear that the donations are indeed going to be spent on purchasing the items and will not be pocketed by the group. After all, the group has reiterated that the money generated by the videos is more than enough.
There have also been some legal actions against the group, especially by Apple (which is hardly surprising). This may be the reason the group has not yet made another Smashing video since their last one.