Here is an ad I found this morning on the train to New York City. (Apologies for the fuzziness. Our train goes side to side quite a lot.)
The ad is for a Bucherer watch, and it shows a man with his daughter perched on the edge of a pool. The emendation tells us that this man cares more for his watch than he does for his daughter.
My first indication that the 80s trend had broken was a poster for a Tom Cruise movie on which someone had scrawled: “Die Yuppie Scum.” It was a useful indicator, a little early warning.
Our emendator was not done. The logo of Bucherer is, apparently, “for people who do not go with the times.” The last 6 words are crossed out and “don’t care about their kids” is added.
There is evidence of hostility these days…against the hedge fund managers, banking executives, those who ran the likes of AIG, and guys like Bernie Madoff. This ad suggests that the wealthy are vain, self centered, irresponsible. Conspicuous consumption is now doubly conspicuous.
The anthropological questions: could this hostility scale up into a more substantial class hostility? Will it be used by individuals to mandate their own departures from existing consumption patterns? Can something like shame be used by some people to comment on and constrain the behavior of others? Will this work?