THE AMERICAN MONARCHY

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Victoria and I were driving through the super-trendy part of West Hollywood the other day and I found my attention being diverted by a large billboard advertising beer (by the way, anyone else find it strange that we can be ticketed for texting while driving yet companies are able to put billboards by the side of the road that are designed to distract us?). It was very simple: two extremely attractive modelly
types – hell, why don’t I just call them models – in hip clothing and wearing designer sunglasses are looking at each other. Between them a massive bottle of beer has been projected onto the picture.  There was also a tag line; you know the type: “Budweiser… get shitfaced and homoerotic”, or “Stella Artois. Drink it and you’ll have boatloads of anonymous sex with unrealistically attractive people.”
Anyway, as I turned my eyes back to the road having driven blind for about seven seconds, a thought which many of you might find breathtakingly obvious struck me:

We are all obsessed with glamour.

Then the next thought hit:

We haven’t changed since medieval times. Since we all turned our faces up toward Kings and Queens.

America may have been founded on the basis of monarchic rejection, yet it seems we haven’t lost our fascination with and desire for lives filled with castles, jewels and the adoration of the great unwashed.

In fact, I would dare to say that the peoples of the region named the United Kingdom, with their flaccid yet wealthy monarchy still in place, are much less interested in their own royalty than we in the US are with our adopted “eminences”.

And who are some of these fortunate ones, these chosen few adorned with precious gems, riding in resplendent carriages, just out of the reach of the straining hordes who are so desperate for a glance, a brief touch, anything that they think might rub off on them, give them the slightest chance of rising up to that rarified class themselves sometime in the future?

Kim Kardashian.
Ashton Kutcher.
Snoop Dog (notice the correct spelling of the word).
Snookie.
Jessica Simpson

Yep folks, meet some of the American Monarchy, revered simply for the size of their bling. Okay, Snoop also has produced what some might call ‘music’, but if I’m not mistaken, his greater contribution has been the glorification of the degradation of women. I mean, golly, at least the members of nobility in other countries are educated, for pete’s sake. They can usually string a sentence or two together in tones resembling something other than monosyllabic grunts- Queen Elizabeth excluded.

But not only do we elevate anyone with enough cash to have their own reality show, we also seem to be willing to buy products because we see them in connection with complete strangers who only appear to be members of this fancied club. For all we know, that model wearing those four hundred-dollar jeans might be buried under a mountain of debt accrued from his cocaine habit, or maybe that Swiss watch ad in that fashion magazine was his first job, and he’s still living in a roach-infested hovel in Queens. But we don’t care. I’d be willing to say that we have become masters at the art of judging books by their covers, except for the fact that wait, we don’t even read books anymore.

But it is true that for most of us, the proverbial clothes do make the man. Allowing for many exceptions, we have become a nation of the peasantry and the ruling class. Mansions are built, cars with price tags better reserved for houses are bought, entire armies of servants disguised as ‘entourage’ are maintained, and individual kingdoms and empires are built as more of us become ‘incorporated’, which sounds like something out of Invasion of The Body Snatchers and, if you’ve seen many of these people interviewed, that analogy might be closer than you think.

I’m all for living well. But we have to have standards, people. We can all change how we look at the world, and more importantly what we value in it, in little ways. Let’s start by refusing to be too impressed by shiny objects that we will inevitably tire of all too quickly- and that includes humans.  Who cares if Tiger Woods won a few rounds of golf- instead of hanging around a golf course and clapping while he lifted his heavy golden trophy and his heavier zillion-dollar check, we should have said to him ‘a job well done mate, there’s an aluminium plaque waiting for you in a shed near the parking lot, we’re off to the pub.’

As Victoria once told me, a milk shake used to be considered a dessert, a treat; now we call it coffee and consume far more of it than is good for us. Let us consider the soap opera that is the affairs of dumb rich people who contribute nothing to our community in the same light- as a vice to engage in very occasionally.  Maybe then we’ll be freer to pursue our own destinies,  and realize that what any of us has to give might be shinier and worth more than all the jeans, sunglasses and bronzed muscle in Christendom.

Pictures, from top:  The woman my father refers to as Sweaty Betty.
Snoop Dog… misogynistic imbecile.
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