Monday, June 20, 2005

Nobility of the Image 8

And so, the Nobility of the Image has enshrined its core value “hipness” as the prime value for living. Get a group of young people together and ask them how to improve the urban environment. What about a free clinic? What about youth centers? How about fixing some of the abandoned buildings and returning them to the community? Hell, what about a soup kitchen? Nope. Likely they'll suggest an ad campaign to spur tourism.

Of course, hipness is really not far removed from the Ancien Regime ideas of style, or class, or wit. Ultimately, it is a superficial way of distinguishing the haves from the have-nots. Yet, the core of the class structure is still economic. Who can afford to have their parents fund a tee-shirt shop? Who can afford to found a record label in their basement? Who can afford to attend the Ivy League schools that are so central to the image of an “educated elite”? People who are already elite, of course. Is it any wonder that Paris Hilton is now branching out into “creating music and perfume”?

What this means is that the Nobility of the Image is simply the traditional nobility with a different justification. However, it also means that the values of this decadent class are transmitted to the peasantry. For perhaps the first time in history the contempt that the nobility has always felt for the peasantry is actually sold to the peasantry. Mass media is created, in the United States, exclusively in Los Angeles and New York. These cities disagree on much, but they generally agree that something called “Middle America” exists and that it consists of idiots, bigots and fanatics.

Of course, this is how the nobility has always seen the lower classes. Just read Voltaire. However, they have seldom been as upfront about it. Working class Americans from Middle America are never seen in 90% of the mass media. In the other 10%, they are shown as imbeciles. Try if you will to find a character in a major American film who has a southern accent and who is not; A) A bigot, B) A kindhearted moron such as Forest Gump, or C) An incestuous monster.

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