Watching Lil Wayne’s wonder sparkle as he pours champagne on his Samsung Galaxy S7 is an American treat. The incredulous “whaaaaaa?!” that he and his homies express is a truly enviable sight. If you hate the poor. The poor being a grossly reductive term for a grossly large portion of this country’s population (including those that are too poor to see this dumb advertisement). Before the criticism feels unfair, let me admit it that I can’t act like I don’t hate the poor too. Or maybe it’s not that I hate the poor, simply that I love the rich. At the very least, I’ve internalized rich values. I’ve also learned to question such manufactured consent.¹
What does this knowing internalization translate to when watching a commercial? Unlike the by-design faithful masses who might ingest the opiate gleefully, I gaze upon it with impotent judgment, thinking that I’m accomplishing something with my heightened consciousness. Because I know how marketing works, and because I know I’m supposed to be a sucker, I like to believe that I’m somehow above it all. “You’re not getting to me, Samsung, and shame on your company and Lil Wayne for exploiting everyone who can’t identify but wants desperately to identify with the world you’re so casually portraying and celebrating.” And with my wag of the finger, I confuse a passive, self-righteous monologue to no audience as social activism. I give myself a psychic pat on the back, and then I go on to blog about it.
Really, if I want to say “fuck you” to Samsung or Lil Wayne, I better first be willing to say, “fuck me.” I may not literally pour champagne on expensive phones, but most of what I do on a daily basis probably serves the same ends symbolically.
¹I was watching a documentary about Noam Chomsky last night with a colleague and a few students. Don’t bother. If you’re into his rampant, reckless deconstruction (this guy is), stick to reading his work or watching unedited videos. The documentary is a goddamn mess of 80s style. In that sense, it is a fascinating cultural artifact.