Creative Destruction

May 24, 2006

Got Bling?

Filed under: Content-lite,Popular Culture — Brutus @ 1:26 pm

Though not nearly so awful as the LimoJet, these exhaust tip spinners make the same negative impression on me.

flare turbine

I guess if you've got more money than you know what to do with, and no sense of either taste or value, then these are just the thing to pimp your ride.

The whole idea of bling is pretty distasteful to me, but I can't deny that it gets attention. And for those who have adopted that approach to self-promotion, it may very well turn them into attention whores (assuming they're not that already). While bling may be relatively harmless on cursory inspection, I suspect there is a lot more going on at the Gestalt level. Put another way, it's the Zeitgeist of our time (love them German psych terms) that livin' large, baby, is no longer something to be embarassed about; rather, it's become a categorical imperative.

It's true of most of us that at some point we've uttered the equivalent of "sure, I can tap dance." The implication is that you then go out and learn to tap dance. If you eventually show up and still can't dance, they you deserve what you get, which will likely be the boot. With bling, it's not about earning attention, it's about buying attention. Oddly, the payment isn't even made to those whose attention is desired but to a third party. "Watch me buy stuff" has replaced "sure, I can tap dance."

Much the same thing is going on in the media, which must above all be visually tantalizing even if other types of content are mostly banal, saccharine, or insipid (or combinations of the same). It's tease, tease, tease, but rarely deliver. And we're lapping it up like the dogs we are.

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5 Comments »

  1. Yeah, you are parked next to a diner, you buy and install a rotating object within hand reach of baby sitting in a stroller. Make sure it blings! I would even put Elmo’s face on it to cut as many baby fingers as possible.

    How humans can say with a straight face we evolve is beyond me.

    Comment by Vilon — May 24, 2006 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  2. I don’t think many parents let their babies within arms reach of an exhaust pipe. Since they spin by the exhaust stream, I seriously doubt that that they can cut much more than paper, even if they are sharp, which they don’t have to be. (at standstill, and I doubt a baby gets his/her hand there when the car is running 60mph). So the exhaust fumes are probably more of a concern in close proximity.

    It does seem to me that often the problem with people who lots of money is that they have no taste, and the problem with people who have taste is that they have no money. I don’t think this is the best example of that, though.

    But, no point in getting worked up about this. Even a relatively poor first-worlder probably has plenty of stuff that are just for decoration with no objectively useful function, but that’s freedom. People by unnecessarily expensive shoes, DVD:s etc…

    Who is harmed? Someone gets a job manufacturing that stuff. Or does it harm the values of society, or something?

    that livin’ large, baby, is no longer something to be embarassed about; rather, it’s become a categorical imperative.

    Maybe, but why would it be something to be embarrassed about? I hate the whole classic “if you’re rich, don’t dare to show it or you are an asshole” -thing. It doesn’t mean that there has to be an opposite bias (you must show you are rich).

    How about a categorical imperative of everyone using their own money as they damn please as long as it’s not hurting anyone else (apart from delicate aesthetical sensibilities)?

    Comment by Tuomas — May 24, 2006 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  3. ^

    Some random thoughts, pardon the lack of coherence.

    Comment by Tuomas — May 24, 2006 @ 4:57 pm | Reply

  4. Tuomas says:

    How about a categorical imperative of everyone using their own money as they damn please as long as it’s not hurting anyone else (apart from delicate aesthetical sensibilities)?

    Mine is precisely the delicate aesthetic sensibility you exempt. Do you think I’m calling for a ban or a boycott or a full-on denunciation or condemnation? No, I’m expressing my disapproval of an idea, not an object, not a person. True, the idea I scorn is emblemmatic in an object that people buy, but that’s ancillary.

    Comment by Brutus — May 24, 2006 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

  5. Mine is precisely the delicate aesthetic sensibility you exempt.

    No, I don’t exempt it (from what?). I point out that this isn’t hurting anyone, so this is a non-issue. I used somewhat harsh ending.

    Do you think I’m calling for a ban or a boycott or a full-on denunciation or condemnation?

    Of course you’re not calling for boycott. As for denunciation and condemnation, I don’t know. You just wrote a post about it.

    I just disagree with you. I wouldn’t buy that stuff myself — but it wouldn’t affect the way I see someone who did just that in any meaningful sense.

    Some extrovert (=”attention whore”) might find that having that to joke about to curious people would be cool.

    Comment by Tuomas — May 26, 2006 @ 8:44 am | Reply


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