What's trashy if you're poor, but classy if you're rich?
A Marxist analysis.
Desperate and delusional societies and desperate and delusional people come to look or behave alike in time, and this can feel familiar in this uniquely fraught and abjectly stupid moment. It doesn’t help matters that America is owned by some of our culture’s least people-esque people. There is a bleary cohort of citizens that are drawn to a specific type of rich authoritarian—distractible, idly vicious, relatable in their proud pissy cretinousness—because they aspire to be rich and epic themselves. They are drawn to billionaires for the same reason moths crisp to lightbulbs. And, of course, these oligarchs, whose wealth and distance and sour incuriosity have given them the idea that they are somehow outside and above history, have become a rancid celestial aspiration in their own right. The hangers-on will post and post with unseemly vigor, as if this will make them an annihilating godhead themselves, and their overwrought self-regard has metastasized into a sort of cultural brain rot that is infuriatingly, implausibly wack.
Of course, these obvious howling marks will defend oligarchs at the expense of figuring out how dire America’s general situation actually is. This impulse happens in the same assertive, unreasoning part of the brain that neurotically debates whether or not you should eat something you just dropped on the floor. And this creates a weird flagrant double standard that impresses wildly different degrees of accountability based on your earnings. This is clear in instances when the idea of “personal responsibility” applies to a low-income family that uses food stamps to help feed their children, but was notably absent when tech reptiles and finance swells begged the federal government to bail out Silicon Valley Bank. This hypocrisy is baked into the conservative worldview that keeps this untenable status quo dithering along, but this also begs a more definitive question that inquires about the nature of America’s social contract.
What’s trashy if you’re poor, but classy if you’re rich?
Hunting for your food
Getting a police escort
Not paying your taxes
Taking money from the government
Speaking more than one language
Holes in your clothes
Being on a first-name basis with a judge
Keeping a lawyer’s business card in your wallet
Arguing about the price/service
Having other people raise your kids for you