Cupid’s Chokehold

Heart-shaped balloons. Heart-shaped candy. Heart-shaped cards. Take any product that would normally be suitable to give someone in the hospital, mold it into a heart shape, and suddenly it becomes a symbol of eternal love and devotion. Traditionally, these items are given on Valentine’s Day, a nationally celebrated holiday where couples can profess their undying affection and adoration for one another. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those bitter single girls whose longing for the man of her dreams translates into hatred for all things lovey-dovey come mid-February. My only beef with Valentine’s Day is that it has become intensely commercialized. Turn on the television, and you will be bombarded by a plethora of commercials, all offering everything from rings encrusted with chocolate diamonds to the latest batch of Hallmark cards. Walk into the store and you will be overwhelmed by various objects in every imaginable shade of red, pink and purple at a special discount price. They’re practically begging you to buy them for your special man or lady friend. If you happened to be enticed by the appeal of these items, you would become one of the millions of American who spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect gift for their significant other. But not all Americans are lured in by the attempt to attract consumers to regular objects dressed up in hearts and the symbolism of love. “I think Valentine’s Day in an unnecessary holiday for people to express their love by buying random consumer crap that nobody needs,” Sophomore Monica Kinder said. Starting from an early age, people are lured in by the commercialism of this holiday. In elementary and preschool, young students create boxes that they decorate and write their name on. Then, they go out and buy candy and Valentine’s day cards that are specifically designed with popular cartoons and celebrities that will attract the young and impressionable. I even remember my own days standing in the aisle at Fred Meyer’s, marveling at the wide variety of cards I could buy to impress my classmates. One might even go so far as to say that some feel obligated to spend money on another to celebrate the holiday. Not only are people influenced by commercials when they turn on the television, there are plenty of shows and movies that exploit this holiday and feature characters that stress over buying the perfect gift and pleasing their loved one. These television shows and movies could easily be influencing children, who grow up thinking that they are expected to confess their love through material objects. “People shouldn’t need to buy balloons that say ‘I Love You’ and ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ to tell someone they love them,” Kinder said. If despite all this, you still desire to purchase the perfect item for your significant other, just remember what John, Paul, George and Ringo said: “money can’t buy me love.”