The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'materialism'
Legal doctrine of the day: the Three-Pony Rule, used in determining when child support claims are excessive:
While acknowledging there are unique problems with determining the reasonable needs of children of high-earning families, the court said trial judges should nevertheless avoid overindulgence -- citing the doctrine of In re Patterson, 920 P.2d 450 (Kan. App. 1996), that "no child, no matter how wealthy the parents, needs to be provided [with] more than three ponies."
But the appeals court said Convery failed to make a detailed examination of Jean Strahan's child support request and instead merely accepted her recitation of the children's needs. Those "needs," wrote Appellate Division Judge Lorraine Parker, included the children giving their nanny a 10-day vacation in Jamaica; diamond jewelry for their grandmother; $30,000 yearly for landscaping expenses; $36,000 a year for "equipment and furnishings"; and $3,000 yearly for audio visual equipment. Jean set their clothing needs at $27,000 a year, since the children needed new outfits every time they saw their father and one of them demanded a new purse every time she left the house.
"[T]he court made no distinction between what needs were reasonable, given the age of the children, and what simply amounted to a 'fourth pony,'" wrote Parker, who was joined by Judges Rudy Coleman and Thomas Lyons.
British psychologist Oliver James (the author of Affluenza, a critique of the effects of materialism and consumerism on happiness) travelled to Australia for research, and found that Sydney was particularly badly affected by soul-deadening hypercompetitive materialism:
Adelaide and Melbourne had a "different vibe" and did not strike James as being as materialistic as Sydney. He had not been to Sydney before and expected a "philistine nation" of "jolly, uncomplicated fun-seekers". Instead, he found a city in thrall to American values and a puritan work ethic that robbed life of joy and meaning. Middle-class Sydney, he writes, is "packed with career-obsessed workaholics". When they are not working the longest hours in the developed world, they pursue perfect bodies through joyless fitness regimes, or obsess about property prices. Always, they are looking around anxiously, in the hope that others aren't doing better than them.
"They (Sydneysiders) were like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. They had no idea of the point of their lives, other than to get rich." James noted Bureau of Statistics figures highlighting a rise in depression that coincided with a bullish property market, which caused stress and anxiety -- particularly among young Australians.You'd think that, being from Britain, he wouldn't be one to talk; after all, if any place is soullessly materialistic and aggressively hypercompetitive, it would be London, right? Well, not quite, according to James; Britain's class system, you see, insulates it from the excesses of affluenza that grip America and Sydney:
"The British, compared to the US or Aussies, are less easily convinced that money will get you further. The British elite have been around for an awfully long time and there is not the crassness of the Australian rich."
According to a new report, the widespread adoption of (commercial) hip-hop culture and the chav lifestyle by Britain's youth is affecting their educational and career prospects:
"The lure of popular 'bling bling' and Nike identities impacted on young people's engagement with schooling. A widespread and heavy investment in branded identities ("we're Nike people") shaped pupils' aspirations and engagement with schooling," the report continued.
"Desire for fashionable clothes, trainers and accessories meant that many young people wanted to leave school and start earning money as soon as possible. Higher education did not fit with these desired identities and was seen as an unattractive option that would not allow a young people to (afford to) 'be myself'," it said.
(One may well ask, what else is new. School has never been considered "cool", and dropping out to become a bricklayer or filing clerk, live in a bedsit and spend all one's money on flash clothes and partying all weekend dates back to the end of post-WW2 rationing. (Granted, the Mods who pioneered that did it with a lot more style than the thug-wannabes in gold jewellery and Burberry shellsuits.) Which left the picked-on high-school dorks to actually achieve anything other than a dead-end job later in life.
"Lot of the girls were coming into conflict with schools for 'speaking their mind' - there's a notion of being a strong woman - like Beyonce. This was being interpreted by schools as aggressive."(Do they need Beyonce for that? I thought watching EastEnders would have been enough.)
Expatriate citizen-of-the-world Momus returns to Britain -- and hates it; on returning, he finds squalor, shabbiness, crass consumerism and an edge of latent aggression.
The marketing is slick and constant, nothing works, and it's twice the price it would be back home. And there's some sort of druggy, boozy menace hanging over the streets at night. Blame the binge drinking sprees! Have a happy smashed British Christmas!
We stop at a filling station on the Shoreditch High Street to buy some food. A homeless man is sitting at the entrance. 'Spare some change, please? Spare some change?' A black man gets out of a BMW and comes over to reform him. 'Look at yourself, mate, you've got to stop using the stuff. Go to a gym, man, do a workout, get out of this state you're in, it's a fucking shame on you, man!' He's a winner, the junkie's a loser. Go to a gym, start a business, buy a BMW, join the winners. It's dog eat dog.
The next morning the taps in the bathroom don't seem to work, and neither does the flush in the toilet. Fuck! At least I'm able to shower. I don't think I could bear to be dirty in London. It already feels like a gigantic toilet. Crossed with an advertising agency. An advertising toilet? Why not? Clever marketing idea! Out on the street, I see a bus with an advert on the side that says 'More Glitz! The Brent Cross Centre, feed your addiction'. Feed your addiction? Fuck, you mean become like that junky we saw last night at the filling station? Have drugs and celebrity become metaphors for everything in Britain? Are they marketing heroin yet? Welcome! Fuck!
The atmosphere didn't feel benign at all, nothing like soft, safe neon nights in Tokyo. `it felt brutal. Minicab sharks, cars pulling up behind pedestrians. You're in there, protected, and I'm out here, not. I'm just going to have to hope you have a good heart. People in hip hop hooded tops looking hard in kebab shops. It all feels like one of those Streets videos where a bunch of tanked-up British guys end up with blood streaming down their faces. 'Mate, mate, I don't want any trouble, mate.'
The kids in the next seat just said 'Bling bling!' The phrase is everywhere in Britain, an R&B-rap-pop fashion as widely adopted as the flash white sportsgear people wear on British streets, minus all the gold, silver and diamonds that stars like J-Lo and Britney accessorize it with. I open the Virgin Trains magazine. (Wow, marketing! Trains never used to have in flight consumer magazines! Then again, they once had basic services like running water and hot food.) There's an article about shopping in Birmingham. It begins 'Diamonds, platinum and all things bling lie ten minutes from the city centre in Birmingham's jewellery quarter...' Later in the journey, bored, I open the new tabloid Times and there it is in the financial section. 'Bling bling: fashion designer John Zhao shows off his crystal encrusted iPod'. Britain speaks fluent bling bling. Britain, from top to bottom, embraces the showy materialism. the 'I won, you lost' mindset of hip hop and R&B videos. Bling bling, I win!
I've noticed some of these things since coming here; the ubiquity of branding, often taking priority over other things (for example, anything to do with live music here has the Carling brand (which is a rather generic lager) slapped on it, and band venues have advertising billboards on the walls), the "ATM attendants" stationed beside every cash machine, trying to guilt the relatively well-off user out of one of their tenners, the chav kids looking hard and dead-eyedly cynical in their hip-hop thugwear (Burberry baseball caps worn under hooded tops, to hide faces from the ubiquitous CCTV cameras, seem to be a big part of youth fashion here), drunk arguments in the streets, with couples screaming "FUCK OFF, YOU FUCKING WANKER!" at each other, the dozens of different posters on every form of public transport, from buses to long-distance trains, warning passengers not to assault staff.
The latest escalation of the really-big-vehicle arms race: the extreme passenger truck, for people who want a vehicle that can intimidate SUV drivers. It's modelled on commercial haulage trucks but with consumer comforts, and as FmH suggested, we'll probably see rappers driving chrome-rimmed, blinged-out versions of these soon enough.
Read: Fuck Hip Hop, an article claiming that hip-hop as a form of cultural expression is dead, at the hands of the bejewelled, illiterate thugs who dominate the genre.
All one needs to do is watch cribs and notice none of these people showing off their heated indoor pools or the PlayStation Two consoles installed in all twelve of their luxury cars have a library in their home. Or display a bookshelf, for that matter. No rapper on cribs has ever been quoted saying: "Yeah, this is the room where I do all my reading, nahmean?"
Rappers reflect what has become a new image of success where money is its own validation and caring is soft unless you're dropping a single about your dead homie.
(via bOING bOING)
Seen in the sidebar on WIRED News: According to a poll by Progressive Auto Insurance in the U.S., 45% of Americans ranked their cars as the thing they considered most important in their lives (compared to 6% for their children, and 10% for spouses). 17% of respondents claimed that they would buy their cars Valentine's Day gifts. Reminds one of that "MAN MARRIES HIS MOTORCYCLE" news story/urban legend.