Showing posts with label materialism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label materialism. Show all posts

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why they hate us. And should.

I've seen some repulsive TV ads in my 50-plus years on this media-saturated earth. This ad for Cadillac may top them all.

Combine out-of-control materialism, hubris and a generous helping of smugness, and you have a television-commercial graduate course on Why They Hate Us. This ad is the audio-visual representation of the Ugly American, and when Americans are ugly, we are ugly indeed.

Advertising, as a rule, is the art of selling people stuff they really don't need -- of convincing folks they desperately need stuff they really don't. You don't need a damned Cadillac, and something is wrong with you -- namely, the profoundly broken human condition -- if you think you really, truly need a Cadillac ELR . . . or anything else apart from your health, food, shelter, love and God.

This ad -- which ran over and over and over again during the Winter Olympics, during which the United States famously underachieved -- takes it a step further and tries to do so while convincing you all those other inhabitants of the earth who aren't citizens of the United States are, in fact, losers if they don't sacrifice heart, soul and all those things money cannot buy to the great god Greed. In Cadillac America, the 1 percent are demigods because they have done just that, and if you don't aspire to material wealth at the expense of all else, you are, too.

SO GO out there and give yourself an ulcer, leave little Johnny to shift for himself while you're putting in 80 hours a week at a job you probably hate not for food, shelter and health insurance, but instead for an effing luxury vehicle. Which you will spend hours in while commuting to that 80-hour-a-week job to which you've offered up your soul . . . for what?

Your wife may rarely see you, your children may not know you -- who may, indeed, loathe the materialistic bastard who's thrown them to the wolves of neglect -- and all this wreckage you have left in your wake for . . . a Caddy? Screw you, and screw the America that's made this sort of materialism the sum and summit of it's earthly existence.

This America deserves whatever may befall it. And will, in time.

But at least we'll be going to hell in not a hand basket but, instead, in a really sweet ride. Right?

For the America of stuff, hubris and over-the-top arrogance, that will have to do as small consolation. No, you can't take the Cadillac ELR with you when you go to your richly deserved reward (or richly deserved lack thereof) but perhaps you can be buried in the damned thing.

The "losers" of the world will be greatly amused at that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baby Diddy

Only Nixon could go to China, and only Baba Wawa could ask The Artist Formerly Known as Puff Daddy why he can be a baby Diddy five times over, but never a real, live, married-to-his-baby-mama -- any of the three -- father.

That's a question P. Diddy still is trying not to answer a day and a half later.

The hemming and hawing went something like this, as reported by the
Daily Mail in London:
"Why I'm not married yet, I don't have the exact reason. Some things in life you don't have the exact reason.

"My father was killed when I was three years old... I never got a chance to see the way a family lives, but I'm not making an excuse."

Not satisfied with his answer, Walters further inquired, "Six children by three women, how much time do you need?"

Diddy cut her off saying: "I get to spend a lot of time with my children. Everybody has a different life. Mine and your life is totally different.

"That's the way it is. My life works for me, it works for my family."

He added: "They have no cavities... and they pray every night."

Diddy is the biological father of five and he is the informal stepfather of another child.

GOOD THING she didn't ask him about that $360,000 first car he gave his 16-year-old:
In July, Diddy called British journalist Martin Bashir a racist, after Bashir grilled the rapper during an interview on Nightline about the star's lavish lifestyle and gifting his son Justin with a $360,000 Maybach car for his 16 birthday.

"There were times in the interview when I had to give him a ultimatum, the questions weren’t being handled the right way,' Diddy explained afterwards.

"In hindsight when I saw him I shouldn’t had done the interview because I know the style of interview that he does. The whole thing about giving a Maybach to my son, that’s really like a racist question.

"You don’t ask white people what they buy their kids and they buy ‘em Porsches and convertible Bentleys and it’s no question.

It’s really a racist question and put things back in perspective with money and the way that people still look at you. And I’m not saying that consciously he’s a racist.

"But he probably don’t even realize that he would not ask Steve Jobs that. He would be like Steve Jobs has that money and that’s the gift his kid is supposed to get."
OH . . . Diddy didn't give a straight answer to the baby-daddy question when Bashir asked it, either.

This after Bashir reminded Diddy of having said he wanted to be "someone that kids want to emulate."

Yeah, there was a racist lurking in that interview, and it wasn't Martin Bashir.

Some African-American (and other) thinkers have argued that most blacks cannot be racist because racism presupposes the power to act upon one's racial prejudices. All right, then, who has the power here?

Martin Bashir, salaried TV journalist? Or Sean "Puff Daddy-P. Diddy" Combs, hip-hop media and marketing mogul?

If Bashir went on national television and screamed the N-word for three days straight, the only life he would be destroying would be his own. He'd be fired. He'd be ridiculed. He'd be shamed. He'd be shunned.

He. Would. Never. Work. Again. (Or at least for a long while.)

BUT WHEN DIDDY -- he who seeks to be emulated -- goes around siring children by multiple women, without marrying any of them, he sets a standard that has been proven socioeconomically toxic to the very people he'd most like to "emulate" him.

When Diddy plays hip-hop mogul, peddling a violent, misogynistic and ubermaterialistic subculture to young people who least need any more violence, misogyny or materialism shoved into their minds, he blows more toxic cultural gas toward the canaries in the American coal mine.

And when Diddy proclaims he's an adequate father to the fruit of all his "baby mamas'" wombs because he shoves some serious cash -- or a Maybach automobile -- at them every now and again, he gives yet another oversexed lout in some American inner city yet another excuse for not acting like a man.

Or acting like a father.

Without the means -- or the tools to acquire the means -- to bandage over the psychic wounds of little children with Benjamins. Or Maybachs.

DAVID DUKE couldn't have hoped to "accomplish" as much in a million white-supremacist years. That's why the ol' neo-Nazi needed a little Diddy magic.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Children of La Mancha

The problem with the American Dream, now more than ever, is that it's an impossible one.

We spend all our time keeping up appearances, chasing status and material goods instead of meaning, knowledge and relationships -- both human and divine -- such that we have become a society more devoted to "tilting at windmills" than more pedestrian fare as living productively, morally and sustainably.

Society tells us we need to have it all -- today. The economic reports tell us there are five unemployed Americans competing for every job opening.

WE ARE what we own. Our self-worth is what others say it is. We are chasing our tails, our quixotic expectations are giving our kids ulcers, and you just know something's gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give.

Such has it been for a long time in these United States, and the new season of early '60s-set Mad Men was the catalyst for some riffing on the subject from a walking wounded of that era on Rod Dreher's new
Big Questions Online blog:
She said that in her recollection of the time, it was hugely important to maintain an impossible standard of middle-class perfection, to the point where it drove people, well, mad. She recalls the pressure to maintain appearances at all costs, and to strive to meet unrealistic ideals. "There was the [N.] family down the street who didn't live like the rest of us in this way," she said. "They didn't go to church, or seem as concerned about the things that preoccupied our families. We all thought they weren't going to make it. Well, guess what? They did fine. The rest of us? Not so much. It was impossible to be satisfied with what we had. You couldn't just stay where you were; you were always looking to move to something better."

Like me, my friend is not a fan of the Sixties and Seventies, but in talking with her, I kept thinking about a judgment I made about "Mad Men" when it first came on: That it gives you an idea of why the Sixties happened the way they did. Some conservatives read the series as a retrospective justification for Sixties excess. I disagree. I don't think series creator Matthew Weiner is necessarily stacking the deck against the Fifties as much as he's diagnosing what it was about bourgeois/haute bourgeois white society at the time that led to the revolution. Because I grew up after the revolution was well underway, I can look at the autopsy with detachment; my friend, who was Sally Draper's age when it was going on, and who was in the "Mad Men" social and cultural class, cannot.

"I keep thinking that today, right now, we're reliving the Fifties," said my friend, who has a child in college. "I see the same obsession with perfection, with getting your kids into the right school so they can go to the right college and get the right job and move into the right group so they can be successful and happy. And these kids, they're terrified of failure. It's crazy, and you can't imagine how stressful this is for parents and kids alike. It's going to blow up, too. You watch. The problem is, there aren't as many intact families to blow up. But these children, they're going to implode. I worry about the net effect on these kids moving forward. They're never going to feel as good or as smart as they're supposed to feel, given how much we've spent on them. I know how my daughter feels: inadequate, always."
SOMETHING'S gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give.

It did starting in about 1966 . . . until it didn't anymore and the revolutionaries became the Establishment, obsessing about establishmentarian pursuits. Like status and stuff -- in other words,
the same ol' s***.

And their kids, raised in a world where our means never exceed our appetites and every child is exceptional
(or so they're told), know that failure is not an option. Ordinary is not an option -- we will "fight, fight, fight, fight, fight it with all of our might."

Until it is.
Something's gotta give.

AND YOU GOTTA WONDER whether that's a big part of this fresh hell looming on our horizon, as spotlighted by ABC News:
"This is what we have feared for a very long time—that finally the ideology of radical Islam is effectively reaching into the United States to disaffected people here over the Internet," said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism adviser.

Some suspects allegedly used the Internet to also contact radicals like cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. In 2009, Chesser reportedly told the FBI that he sent several e-mails to the New Mexico native, who in turn replied to a couple of them. Al-Awlaki, 39, has most recently been tied to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the prime suspect in the Fort Hood massacre, as well as the failed Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Some of those charged with terror are now well-known in this country, like Faisal Shahzad, the convicted would-be Time Square bomber. Just last week, a supposed martyrdom video surfaced in which an English-speaking Shahzad vocalized his appreciation for jihad, or holy war.

Also, David Headley from Chicago was convicted of helping to plan the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed more than 170 people. Then, associates of Najibullah Zazi, who is a permanent resident, were convicted of plotting to detonate bombs in New York City subways. And Michigan's own Colleen LaRose, more commonly known as Jihad Jane, was implicated in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist for drawing the head of the Prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog in 2007.


But there have been some suspected terrorists that have flown under the radar, like Bryant Vinas, who was accused of attacking a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and providing al-Qaeda with details about New York's railway system. Also, Michael Finton was arrested in a sting where he was attempting to detonate a truck bomb at a federal courthouse in Springfield, Illinois.

With so many potential threats, authorities say they are in a race against time to find these radicals before they launch a successful attack on the land they grew up on.

"In the last six to nine months," Clark said, "the FBI has seen more domestic Islamist extremist activity than at any time since immediately right after 9/11."
IT'S THE '60s all over again. Right down to rebelling against all the right things in exactly the wrong way, with exactly the wrong ideology.

We never learn.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Lust, license and the pursuit of stuff

Happy Fourth of July!

It is on this day we celebrate the Continental Congress' adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the birth in 1776 of our independent American nation, which actually occurred on July 2 but forget that, we're on a roll.

AND WHEN Lord Cornwallis surrendered his British army to George Washington's American forces and their French allies, it was pretty much all over. The infant nation grew and prospered and, by the 1940s, had become the most powerful the world had ever known. It presided as hegemon of much of the earth, and its people -- through the dual blessings of freedom and prosperity -- dedicated themselves to the pursuit of license and excess.

Secure in our attainment of what we needed, we therefore relentlessly pursued what we wanted. And what we want is stuff. More and more stuff. And bigger places to keep all our stuff.

And governmental policies to help us accumulate that stuff.

Our money says "In God we trust" but that's only constitutional if we don't really mean it. Which we don't, thank God. (And, to be safe. we don't mean that either.)

No, this July 4, we give lip service to self-evident truths and "nature's God" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but we all know what's important, don't we?


The pursuit of stuff is what makes us happy. Until we decide we still don't have enough stuff.

Or a big enough McMansion way out in the 'burbs to keep our stuff. Or enough gas-guzzling horseless carriages to haul our fat asses and our stuff from place to place.

Which requires us to invade hapless Middle Eastern despot states like Iraq under the pretense of self-evident truth and letting freedom ring -- and Mom, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet -- to keep is in enough oil and gas to sate our need for speed.

And stuff.

So, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the birth of our nation than by exercising the God-given right to spit in the eye of America's modern mountebanks who sell us snake oil in the name of "freedom."

And in that spirit, I give you the late, great George Carlin, who really had our number.

Video contains some profanity. Funny profanity, but blue nevertheless.