Saturday, September 08, 2007

Starbucks

This used to be the Post Office in Dorchester, Dorset. It was an elegant and historical building. As the photo testifies, however, it is now a Starbucks.

This seems to me to be a deliberate act of cultural vandalism. Starbucks didn't merely open an outlet in Dorchester; no, they wanted to take something which represented values antithetical to their own, something with beauty and architectural heritage, and demonstrate that they could acquire it, sever it from its historical roots, and replace it with their own brand values. A demonstration of cultural hegemony, if you will.

15 comments:

Susan's Husband said...

Would it not be a demonstration of people caring a lot more about such historicity when they aren't the ones paying rent and upkeep on the building?

Gordon McCabe said...

Not quite sure what your point is there. Did you mean to write "are" rather than "aren't"?

Susan's Husband said...

No.

Your primary error is in thinking that Starbucks "took" the building. No, they bought from someone else who sold it. I think it a reasonable deduction that the seller preferred to sell off the historicity rather than keep paying the rent / upkeep. It's easy for someone else who wasn't forking out the cash to say "that's vandalism!". It's basically saying to the seller "you should make a financial sacrifice to satisfy my sense of aesthetics". And I think that's a better description of what this represents.

Neil Forsyth said...

It still looks elegant and historical. Where are the signs of vandalism, cultural or otherrwise? If they continued to sell stamps as a gesture of good will would you be happy?

Gordon McCabe said...

I don't think Starbucks stole the building, no. If I thought that, I would have contacted the Police.

No, I think that Starbucks chose to buy that particular building rather than a more modern one, and one can attempt to infer certain things from that choice.

Talk is cheap, and it is indeed easy for one to talk about maintaining such historicity when one is not responsible for paying the rent and upkeep. I don't, however, have a problem with the seller deciding to sell. It's the choice made by Starbucks which interests me.

Gordon McCabe said...

It's been commercially branded on the outside, Neil, and the interior, which included a large mural, has been gutted and replaced with, well, a Starbucks. That's vulgar.

Dave said...

I would like to add my 2 cents... Firstly, if the Post Office could run their business more efficiently and turn a profit then they might not have to close / sell so many of it's branches. Secondly, whilst the signage is large, it could have been much much worse - it could be a 'Wacky Warehouse' or some such thing.
I think Starbucks is one of those brands that is seen to represent corporate greed and expansion at the expense of everything else in much the same way as McDonalds and Nike etc. Whilst it's not perfect I think there are many other companies that are far worse and think that Starbucks is an easy target. I would also like to add that they sell very nice coffee and muffins

Gordon McCabe said...

Mmmmmm,...muffins!

Gordon McCabe said...

Reminds me of Spike in Hi-de-Hi, who always used to add his tuppence worth, much to the chagrin of Ted Bovis.

Doug Hudson said...

"Chagrin" - there's an underused word these days.

My favourite underused word is "knave". Best applied in the voice of Kenneth Williams.

Gordon McCabe said...

'Knave' always makes me think, Doug, of the formula for the current in a wire:

nave = (number density of charged particles) * (cross-sectional area) * (drift velocity) * (electron charge)

Dave said...

"The first rule of comedy, Spike, is this..."
And the name "Ted Bovis" - genius!!!

Dave said...

Knave makes me think if the porn mag... I'll get me coat!!!

Gordon McCabe said...

Doesn't your Mum still look at my blog, Dave?

Gordon McCabe said...

But, yes, genius.