Home Pop Culture The Culture of Status and How It Undoes Us.

The Culture of Status and How It Undoes Us.


What’s interesting in all of this is how the media seems to give lip service to unfolding world events, instead of questioning and imploring caution and self examination we are bombarded daily by ads for new reality shows, designer hand bags and the lives of the uber rich and the plain silly. It’s like living in a George Orwell country town where horrendous defeat is interpreted as impending victory, or actual victory (anyone remember W utter “mission accomplished?”), or social disarray as the behavior of a few unscrupulous managers or the sheer tide of freak events. Nobody wants to sit down and ask if one can still get real strawberry jam with their peanut butter as opposed to the fake one stocked overtly in your shopping mall. By now we have new generations growing up and so many synthetic concoctions that it’s become near impossible to decipher the real thing when it sometimes comes our way, hormone and additive free. After all you’ll hear your son, nephew say ‘Mcdonald’s’ tastes way better. True, sometimes reality is something that can at times be very unsavory and quite boring, but look around you and wonder about how two thirds of our nation is over weight and rushing to health clinics for mysterious health concerns.

Turn on your tv, or open a magazine (even this one you may say) and wonder with delight with the media’s pre occupation with the lifestyles of the rich and famous, or just plain silly. ‘Paris Hilton this, Paris Hilton that,’ the $250 000 fees she collects to turn up to your nieces bar mitzvah. It’s incredulous (except to her and her accountants), and somehow one is made to feel that it’s life and business as usual, never mind that the business at hand is a kind of extortion for benediction.

Of course people are starting to notice such things, and have been forced to submission and contempt for such flagrant behavior. This may explain why magazines and newspapers have had to shed staff by the masses, people are tired of reading about hoopla (the way one gets tired of the same pickled hamburger at Boulud or White Castle). Somehow the fantasy, the adrenalin packed show for status is starting to bug the population at large, especially now that they can’t hope to join in the fun any time soon.

It’s interesting to note how social status, the desire for it, the desire to super impose one’s will and standing is used over and over to reinforce our common desires and affiliations. Get rich, get laid, wear Rolex. Work out, get thin, marry up.

At the root of all this wondrous behavior is the perception of how you and I will receive each other. After all we are animals, and if anyone has observed animal behavior they will conclude it’s usually the baboon with the biggest muscles and respect of his brethren that will get the pick of the litter. What can one do, short of being born rich or marry into money? Well, they choose high pay off mercenary careers, become esteemed lawyers and teachers in society, and thus they create their own status and the best possibility of also fermenting a hay family that replicates the behavior of whatever is polite in the baboon kingdom.

After all it does come down to the Darwinian struggle of life, the survival of the fittest. So if owning a two thousand dollar vacuum cleaner is extolled in the media and becomes the new ‘correct’ must have perceived item then we will all collectively toil ourselves backwards, go into debt so we can come off looking ‘desirable’ to our particular society, and of course excuse the French (or the lack of it) get laid.

So what’s going on? Status is being used as a kind of weapon as opposed to tool to engender productivity and common good for the exclusive capitulation of a few over the rest of us. The implicit suggestion of course is that if you play by the rules you too can join in the fun, appear better and more desirable than your peers, except when you can’t.

Failure or disregard for such rules or ideas often leads to alienation or acknowledgments of brilliance later in life (for most, like Vincent Van Gogh only once you are dead).

In the end, it’s a personal journey, we are all responsible for the choices we make or don’t make and yes some of us may say to the hell with it and become peace workers in the Amazon, others hobos extolling poetry and banter along dank sidewalks or if they are lucky in the annals of congress, others will continue to disregard the warnings of too much corn fruit syrup and keep aspiring to power, shallow friendships, plastic surgery and the allure of the medicinal cabinet, street sanctioned or not. For most of us it’s a balancing act for integrity, gratification, community and family involvement and over riding ones mortal sense of insecurity.

Ultimately what may be more palatable and manageable is not our concern for how others perceive and conversely desire us but how we can begin to perceive and desire ourselves.



  1. every bit of this resonates in every last corner of the mind. peanut butter sandwiches, the american dream, natural selection
    and living above our means. the irony of the glorified indulging in the villified’s merchandise. the emotional imperialism
    of conquering within (and sometimes beyond) one’s tribe. last, the moral: happiness from within.
    beautiful (and life’s true quest) but of course not easy, if so, we wouldn’t have in the first place been fooled by the american dream.

    scallywag, this is beyond engaging.
    not just in the way a timely cultural exploration can be. every sentence within every paragraph has a beat, words pulsate with other words,
    like synchronized machinery; tighten up, release, you can almost see the steam.

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