Archive for January, 2012

While I was reading for tomorrow’s class I came across a quote that I find disgusting because of the terms used, but also interesting. “The general rule is felt to be right and binding that women should consume only for the benefit of their masters.” Women would only purchase necessary to their survival, the survival of their kin, and for their “masters.” After reading this I thought back to the documentary watched and the show “Princess”. Women now shop as a social fulfillment. We once shopped for what we only needed in life, but luxuries were a sign of wealth and prosperity. Most people want to look more attainable, whether it be by the other sex, prospective employers, peers, etc… and thus purchase items out of their price range, or even go without basic necessities, such as proper nutrition, shelter, etc…

In regards to and episode of the show “Princess” I watched yesterday, one woman still lived at home, and lived off of their parents to attain her nutrition and shelter. Meanwhile, she was purchasing a mass amount of high-end products that took up many closets of her parents’ home. She even bought herself a personal driver, without her parents knowing, because she was tired of driving. She racked up her credit cards even though she had no big responsibilities that she had to pay for. I find this ridiculous, and as if this mass consumption of products has now become predisposed into our genetics.

On Friday, while watching the documentary “Born Rich,” we looked into the lives of both men and women who were born into their family’s riches.  I found it very interesting that all of the heirs or heiress’s that were interviewed for the film were all primarily Caucasian.  There is nothing wrong with this, but this sparked my interest even more when one of the women being interviewed made a comment about an African American at a private tennis club in the South Hampton’s.  The woman announced to the camera person that “the African American on the tennis court must be a pro, and that the people at the club would not be excited if someone brought a black person.”  Why would anyone care about one’s race at a tennis club or even in general? Now I’m sure that none of these individuals are racist, but I found it very coincidental when these two thoughts emerged.  I do indeed believe that this film is profoundly supporting the statistics that the most wealth is held by those who are Caucasian rather than African Americans, but my mind is boggled by the racist comment.  Did anyone else catch on to this and what do you think?

Colleen Haslett – Born Rich

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

The documentary watched during Friday’s class was an interesting insight on the lives of those who are born into their family’s money. It is so easy to judge those that have an abundance of money, but while watching this documentary, it was nice to see that some of these individuals were at least attempting to get an education and do something meaningful with their lives rather than live of their parents’ wealth. Being a part of a family with a lot of money is also hard as there are copious amounts of people that would attempt to get close to you and take advantage of the wealth. Donald Trump’s daughter briefly discussed this. It is also hard for these kids because their life is always on display and there is often no privacy, which holds true for the Trump family. The Daughter had found out about her parents divorce while at school and not from her parents.

There was a family in the documentary that had not told their son about their riches. The son had then found out through his uncle that their family was in fact extremely well off. In some ways, I agree with how his parents had gone about this. I know that if I were very wealthy, I would prefer not to spoil my child to the extent that some of these families have. Children need to understand the value of money and work, and understand that nothing comes easy. One of the kids in the documentary was given enough money to spend on hard drugs. First off, no child that age should be exposed to such substances and secondly, they shouldn’t have that much disposable money to begin with.

This documentary was very interesting.  Our society, especially the younger generations have in recent times become more infatuated with Hollywood and the lives of these young heirs and heiress’s. I think everyone at one point or another has imagined what it would be like to be born rich. Most would use the word lucky, however, after viewing this film, some can refer to the saying, “more money, more problems.” These young people have had to endure some struggles by having to live up to expectations of their parents and to battle the harsh prejudice of their friends or classmates growing up. These young people seem to want more meaning in life. They surprisingly want to work hard and earn their money.  It is so easy to judge these people but like anyone we cannot change who our parents are; perhaps we need to look past their fortune and understand that money indeed is not everything.

This week’s readings: “The Aesthetic Sense as the Sense of Distinction” (Pierre Bourdieu) and “Does Cultural Capital Structure American Consumption?” (Douglas B. Holt) provide us with insight into how, why and what different classes of consumers consume. More specifically, they address what ‘criteria’ (i.e. aesthetics, function, taste etc.) are necessary for the purchase of a product/service.

We learn from Holt’s article that a consumer’s ‘cultural capital’ (educational, social and intellectual assets) has an influence on what one consumes / purchases. A consumer’s level of cultural capital also determines why certain things are purchased while others are not. Moreover, in the Bourdieu article we come to understand that one’s personal aesthetic taste also has a tremendous effect on what one purchases.

Holt’s study illuminates that those with a higher cultural capital (HCC) place more of an emphasis on the aesthetic value of something than its practicality, basic function or ‘trendiness’. (In Bourdieu’s study, he also associates a relation of high aesthetic taste / connoisseurship to those with a high cultural capital). Holt also states that consumers with a lower cultural capital (LCC) place higher emphasis on functionality, value and trendiness. Holt discusses three important dimensions of taste and consumption practice that distinguish LCC’s and HCC’s: material vs. formal aesthetics, referential vs. critical appreciation, and materialism vs. idealism.

After reading Holt’s article (more specifically his section “Critical versus Referential Reception of Cultural Texts”), I was reminded of my father in law’s business. My father in law is a vintage movie paper dealer. He participates in several ‘big city’ shows throughout the year in addition to various private auctions. In the big city shows, he caters to an LCC audience. The LCCs cherish posters and prints that are not only popular films, but also films that they relate to i.e. Jaws, Back to The Future, James Bond films etc. (Holt called this ‘referential appreciation’). These pieces range in price from $20 to $500 and are a hot commodity at the ‘big city’ poster shows. However, at the private auctions the demand is not as high on the popular iconic Hollywood films as it is on the more obscure titles. Therefore, at the private auctions, my father in law’s target market is HCCs. Some of the criteria or reasons for specific choices in film posters can range from director of the film, who wrote it, what the film signified in that particular era, the edition of the poster (domestic or international), how many copies of a poster were printed, etc. Closing bids on posters at private auctions tend to range from $1000 all the way up to $690,000! (see link below for the final closing bid on an original poster of Fritz Lang’s 1920’s film Metropolis).

As you can see, this particular poster is extremely rare. Not only was it created by art deco artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm, but there are only 4 of these posters in existence. Sometimes, it is ‘criteria’ such as this that makes a cultural object valuable to an HCC collector. To an LCC, this may not be worth the $690,000.

While attending poster shows and auctions with my father in law, I’ve noticed that he spends a great deal of time talking with his clients about certain pieces of movie art. The topics of conversation range from specific film genres to directors to actors to the rarity of certain prints to even where it was printed! I’ve also observed that these conversations and discourse often have an effect on what a client chooses to purchase. Vintage movie paper – it’s a connoisseur culture of its own!

All in all, after reading Holt and Bourdieu’s articles this week, I am beginning to understand the reasons why some of us consume what we consume… I guess it’s just all a matter of taste!

After watching the documentary “ Born Rich”, the thoughts that I had about ‘spoiled’ rich kids holds true. However, I do have to say that while watching the film I did feel sympathy for many of them as they are treated so differently in society. It was almost as though they were searching for something more. They wanted to be accepted for somebody besides the kid with money. Most of them wanted to do more with their lives, and make a living on their own outside of the family business. Which I thought was admirable of them. However, what I did not realize was the stupidity of their wealthy parents. It is understandable to want to share your wealth with your children, but there should be a limit.

One of the males in the video discussed how he started experimenting with drugs (LSD to be exact) in the sixth grade. No child in grade 6 should even have the money to buy that type of drug. Shouldn’t these parents of muti-million some multi-billion companies be more intelligent than to be giving a sixth grader enough money to buy drugs? I guess it is just a different lifestyle than I am use to.

I was given an allowance as a child, which would allow me to buy particular “in” merchandise and go to movies with my friends. I guess getting an allowance large enough to buy LSD would be the “normal” amount for a child who attends private school and is in the social circle of other ‘rich’ kids. It’s just where to do you draw the line?

Steven Greathead-Tastes

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

I believe peoples tastes have changed. People are starting to create their own style and support the small individual companies and groups. People are trying to make themselves different for everyone else looking for those t-shirts that are only printed once or supporting those small bands that play in street parks and small basements. In doing this they are creating a style that helps make them an individual rather than a follower of the big brand companies and just becoming one of the group. People are starting to shop at lower end stores and alter clothes to put a unique spin on them. Too long people were always trying to fit in with the class that was considered to have the greatest and best taste. There are some true fades that everyone wants but for the most part I feel people want to create their own tastes that are a little different from everyone else.