Monday, April 20, 2009

The Elegant Reaming : Middle Class America

The other day I went to the neighborhood hair cut chain for a trim. I don’t have an exorbitant amount of cheddar to spend on my minimalist hairstyle, so I usually go to a chain of some sort and take my chances. I arrived at my spot, sat in the chair and told the woman hovering over me that I would like a ‘scissor cut.’ The scissor cut is a more traditional mode of hair cutting, especially in an age when chain hairstylists universally use flowbees or clippers. Upon hearing my request, the nicotine covered, fire hydrant of a hairstylist rolled her eyes and muttered an audible “whatever.” To this angry woman with scissors, I was nothing more than a depression era field hand selling apples for pennies on a Brooklyn street corner. I suddenly realized that in America, middle class is the bottom of the barrel.

Middle class is the American dream. Everyone wants stylish comfort at an affordable price. Corporations know this and now they market dog crap to middle America and call it peanut butter. Do you think the chain hair place I visited used its precious marketing dollars to tell everyone how generic its hair styles are, or how shitty the customer service is going to be? No way chuckles. The hair-cutteries can’t wait to tell us that we are all going to look like the Kings of Leon when they are done flowbeeing us to death. And sadly, it’s not just haircuts.

I get a moderate paycheck every week, and do you know where I go when the check hits my bank account? Target. Why? Because I am a middle class schlub, and I think I can change my lifestyle if I buy just the right Cuban style military hat, or a bottle of Isaac Mizrahi soft soap that smells like unicorns and cardamom. Target is K-Mart. They both sell the same cheap crap, except Target uses fantastic marketing to fool middle class consumers into thinking a Philippe Stark toilet brush is going to put them on the fast track to a cosmopolitan lifestyle. And sadly, it’s not just toilet brushes.

The other day I was waiting for the train and I looked up and saw what I thought was an adventurous graffiti burner on the side of a building. It featured guys sporting mod haircuts and girls in track suits dancing and living it up. It was appealing to my middle class sensibilities. It was also an ad for Colt 45 malt liquor. Suddenly, Colt 45 malt liquor wasn’t a beverage preferred by heroin addicts and pre-teen alcoholics-it was a hip, new, metro-sexual beverage for people with bachelor’s degrees and debit cards. It was unequivocally middle class.

In this new consumer culture the middle class is taking the vast majority of the gut punches lately. According to the powers that be, we make just enough money for shitty haircuts, fancy toilet brushes, and gallons of brain numbing liquor.

Hey Leo Burnett, I think I need a new American dream.

1 comment:

Casey Brewer said...

Nice work Frank.