Posted by: robinsonwarner | October 15, 2009

Losing Your Vanity

Imagine, for a moment, a conversation between two middle class Americans:

Mike:  Oh, hey man!  How the hell are ya?

Charlie:  I’m doing all right.  Just got out of work.  Hey!  Those are some really cool shoes.  Where did you get them?

Mike:  Thanks man.  I got them at this store downtown for twenty bucks.  Pretty cool, right?

All right, stop.  Every single one of you have had this conversation.  What I’m talking about is that when people acknowledge our fresh duds or kicks, we not only feel obliged to thank them for the compliment, but also we feel supplement our gratitude with information on how much money our clothes cost.  When we do this, it is almost always to let everyone know that while we might look super fresh, the dopest part of the clothing acquisition was the bargain.  We are quick to let everyone know that we appreciate being told we look great, but more importantly that we didn’t pay that much money for our look.

You very rarely hear people exclaiming, “Thanks man, I payed full price for it.”  That would be admitting defeat in several ways.  We, as a middle class, exhalt the almighty bargain for several reasons:

1) Sticking it to The Man – Middle class members have a very complicated relationship with The Man.  Synonyms to The Man include Authority, Multinational Corporations and any fiscal or social Superstructure.  We resent The Man because of his largely oppressive actions towards the underclass, favoring of the overclass, and that, despite all this, they make really cool stuff that we really, really want.  It is in our nature as middle class Americans to consume, but we also often resent the Superstructures and the products they spew out for our consumption because who doesn’t want to something the size of a pack of gum that can play every single song in existence. 

What better way then to stick it to The Man for his deviousness than to buy his products at a discount.  That will surely hinder your revenue stream!  Take that!  By purchasing The Man’s products at a discount, and letting people know that The Man is surely to be pissed at us, we receive social adulation from our likeminded peers while also still having a totally rockin’ iPod.

On a sidenote, for all you Apple users out there who put Apple stickers on your Priuses and walk around like their shit gives birth to puppies made out of angel orgamsms, did you know that your precious Apple Corporation outsources their manufacturing just like every other corporation based in the United States?  So, buying Apple products doesn’t make you unique or somehow better than PC users.  It’s just another multinational corporation with a particularly vitriolic and clever marketing strategy.  Plus there’s no right click button.  Wammy.

2) Evasive Vanity – Evasive Vanity allows for the consumer to be vain without people actually recognizing their vanity.  That is why the add on of, “I got it for… (insert lowballed price)” holds so much weight.  By attributing value to the product we purchased that will seem generally low to our peers we are sending the message that, “I like to buy things that make me look good, but I am not concerned enough about my appearance as to pay top dollar for it.  I like to look good as much as the average consumer.  Thus, I am in no way shallow or vain.”

3) Resentment of Wealth – Members of the middle class, especially middle class whites, often will come to resent their wealth.  My generation especially likes to enjoy the luxuries that wealth provides, but hold the knowledge of that wealth at arm’s length for one reason:  they haven’t earned it.  They are often reaping the benefits of the hard work of their parents so it is easy for them to slanderously address the evils of private property, working and evil corporations.

They feel that their relative opulence compromises their ability to identify with the underclass for whom they still strongly advocate, while also not being a member of its ranks.  By letting a peer know that they, as a consumer, did not indeed pay full price, it states, “I am not in possession of enough wealth to pay full price for this product.  Thus, I identify with notion to be left wanting; just like the poor people for whom I know what is best.”  This phenomenon depresses middle class people because a lot of them went to four year universities, studied liberal arts, got  really into Marx, Gramsci, and idolized countries with socialized medicine, but still enjoy the fruits that the free market and capitalism tend to spawn. 

To have money means an estangement with the struggle that most of the world engages in on a daily basis.  The Struggle is a theoretical construct to the middle class only.  This is why buying things for less than full price  is the illusion of being part of The Struggle, even if it is just for a moment.

4) You’re a HipsterHipsters are almost as bad as douchebags.  They are on opposite ends of the spectrum of obnoxious social groupings, but they go so far on either end of the spectrum that they begin to share similar qualities and just piss everyone off.  Hipsters are proselytizers of a kind of liberal postmodern neo-nihilist college educated ethos who sleep in coffins made of irony and independent record collections.  Hipsters are consumers, collectors, and critics of culture, but in no way contribute anything to it.  By having no real skill sets  or marginally original thoughts other than knowledge of music and obscure foreign films, the hipster must hide  his lack of tangible cultural and social contributions with a mustache he names Snarf and a fucking sweet fedora.  Hipsters might look something like this:


Please stick your genitals in a garbage disposal so you can never reproduce.  I hate you so much.  You give the left wing a bad name.  Shave, wear jeans that aren’t made for women, and stop pretending your taste in music is better than mine. 

Hipsters are notorious for their sense of irony, but it is a kind of their irony that really just means “makes you look like you eat paste for breakfast.”  They don’t fully understand true irony because they didn’t ascribe to the fascist structure of the modern education system that English 101 presented at Wesleyan.  

But hipsters are the epitome of touting their “cheap” clothing by routinely doing two things:  shopping at a Salvation Army store or Good Will Store though they often possess adequate disposable income to buy normally priced clothing.  This is a result of coming from a background of money that they undoubtably resent.

Hipsters shop at GW or SA stores to acquire “vintage” clothing that is very meticulously picked out which cultivates a look to their peers that conveys a very strange paradox, “I most certainly don’t care how I look, but I will spend hours making sure I look just the right way.”  It is very important to let everyone know that they hardly spent any money or time on their hyper-individualistic appearance.  Lots of money may not be spent on an outfit but if I may counter:

Time = Money.

Hipsters spend lots of time on their appearance.

Thus, hipsters spend lots of money on their appearance. 

What is just as common is the Surreptitious Hipster that will indeed spend lots of money on their “look”, but feel compelled to lie about it to deflect any suspicions of vanity or narcissism.

The only thing ironic about the hipster social grouping is that hipsters ascribe to a largely empathetic world view that supposedly champions the needs of the underclass, but will spend their money on exceptionally cheap clothing at stores established for the class they are supposedly helping.  By buying clothes there, it deprives clothing to the class they so do dutifully and often pretentiously campaign for.  Hipsters are also advocates for whales, medical marijuana, PBR and every citizen of Tibet.


What I’m arguing is that this bargain boast is a phenomenon exclusive to middle class America where wealth is often not celebrated.  In the upper class wealth is… well it’s pretty celebrated.  That same sentence we’ve been examining might look something like this if both members were exceptionally wealthy, “Thanks man.  I got them downtown at this store for two hundred bucks.  Boom.  I love Fox News.   I would blow Ronald Reagan.  All poor people are lazy.”


I hope you all like the recent blog post.  Oh you really do?  You think the writing is amazing?  Well thank you.  I got it on the internet… for free.


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  2. […] can see something far more sinister.  At the 00:14 mark look at what is sitting on the couch:  a hipster (see number […]

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