Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"
Leaping gracelessly from one topic to another, I came across this gag in an occasionally infuriating but consistently fascinating analysis of the complicated relationship between countercultural politics and consumerism called The Rebel Sell by Canadian academics Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.
Broadly, they argue, the counterculture inadvertently encourages consumer culture by diverting energy away from practical resistance (which is itself, they argue, a countercultural ideology) and instilling in hippies, punks, grungers, ravers and the rest of us the notion that just, y'know, having fun is a form of subversion. And far from relying on conformity, consumer culture both courts and exploits the rebel, who in turn leads the charge towards greater consumption, via the restless search for the new, cool stuff that hasn't yet been co-opted.
What makes it so fascinating is that it's clearly written by a couple of former punks of an avowedly leftist stripe who know and have some respect for what used to be called 'the underground'. Here's a proper review by Andy Beckett from 2005.