Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hey Everybody! I'm Lacking In Imagination And I Do It Really Expensively!

This is a very incoherent post. Is the explosion of tedious consumer culture I seem to be witnessing amplified by Aaron Spelling-style T.V. shows?

I just read this article in The New York Times online about the new "Beverly Hills 90210" and other shows of its ilk. I am in Amagansett, New York, one town east of East Hampton - next door to one of The Beast's many bellies. I'm seeing people walking around sporting their multi-thousand dollar handbags and multi-hundred dollar highlights. Everybody seems to be so impressed with everybody else's BMW or Chanel sunglasses or Tiffany bracelet. I see this in Boston, in California, all over the place. DULL DULL DULL!

All this showing off your money stuff. I don't really get it. People are so dull in how they show off their wealth.

I just think it's all so weird. I guess there's always been a segment of the population that behaves this way but it seems like extremely conspicuous consumption has taken over mass culture. Is it because of these T.V. shows?

I've never seen "90210" or "Gossip Girl" or "The O.C.". I might even like them if I did. Maybe there's more to them than what I see reflected in our current popular culture. Maybe the audiences are coming away with the easiest things to emulate.

It sounds like all these characters do is shop, drive fancy cars and generally burn money when they aren't making out with somebody. Can't fictional characters do better things with their fictional billions? The pharaohs built pyramids, the Medici brought peace and prosperity to Florence and patronized the arts and sciences. Sure, they bought a lot of stuff and had a lot of inappropriate sex but they also had accomplishments that benefitted their societies.

Maybe it would be boring to know that the hot rich chick collects art or likes architecture enough to have good buildings built? Too much character development. Nobody cares. They just want to see her naked.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe this is just about living vicariously. Most people aren't beautiful and rich and most of us can't have a one night stand with the hot lifeguard and most of us wouldn't dare to make out with our best friends' boyfriends. I guess we love to see other people do it though. We love to see other people do the things we can't or don't dare to do and then PAY! Or else they get away with it which is also satisfying in a different way. Then we think "maybe I could get away with that kind of behavior too."

I understand wanting to be beautiful, thin, have long, silky hair, be sexy and make out with the hottest guys in town (and you don't have to be rich in cash do do those things) but there's more to life than that. The stuff everybody seems to want is all the same dull stuff. Can't we have more interesting bad roll models?

Why is our society so bland and uninspired? Is it lack of education? Is it bad education that doesn't reward and encourage creative thinking? Are most people lacking in ambition? Fine, amass wealth. But there are other worthy things to do too. And there are more interesting things to do with your wealth than show off your Dolce & Gabbana handbag or your Armani suit.

Why apply these fictional standards to real life? Now it's considered glamorous to be a sheep as long as you're thin and what you want is expensive and boring. I guess it's easier to buy the stuff you see on T.V. for validation than it is to execute an original idea - or to pay someone else for an original idea.

Maybe it's too much for the audience to handle. Maybe if a character were rich, handsome and creative then people would be intimidated? Maybe creative people are too "weird" and therefore off-putting? Maybe market research shows that characters can be overdeveloped and then the show stops being escapist? Maybe the producers think the audiences are too stupid to follow characters' potential intellectual pursuits?

Oh, it's probably all about money again.

Then again I don't know what these real-life obviously rich people are doing with their money besides carrying around signifiers. Maybe they are having interesting buildings built. It's not like you can carry a building around. Nobody's going to stop people on the street and show them some interesting architectural plans. Maybe they do collect and appreciate art. I don't know though... if they did you'd think they'd have more interesting signifiers to show off.

I like fashion myself. I know for a fact that there are ample more interesting ways to spend great gobs of money. I would love to be given the opportunity to be impressed by someone who has paid a lot of money for SOMETHING INTERESTING!!!!! Can't you people wear Alexander McQueen or Boudicca or Etro or Nina Ricci or some person's stuff that nobody else has heard of that's interesting???!!!

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