Class and Culture Clashes

Ideas and Issues
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New Orleans      Ok, let’s be clear, everything about the pandemic sucks, alright?  For the most part we don’t hate our homes, but we definitely don’t like being told we have to stay at home.  Attach the word, “order,” to it and it brings out the deep vein of anarchism that is normally masked as individualism in America.

Saying all that, one thing I personally just love is the huge fault-line around class and culture that has been exposed so vividly during this crisis.  This is part of why Trump, born to the tower, had to be slapped around by the polls and public health experts, so he would finally get the fact that the little people at the bottom really don’t want to die for the sake of the stock market and the big donors’ businesses.

How can you not enjoy the contradictions that are revealed in all the stories about the rich and their wannabes finding resistance from their stay-at-home neighbors as they decamp from the big cities to their summer and second-home haunts?  Some of these small town, rich enclaves are finding that the doggone mayors, elected by the permanent residents, are trying to tell them go back where you belong and don’t bring the virus around here.  Even if it’s a little bit of biting the hand that feeds them, there’s a lesson being taught here about privilege.

I loved a piece by Amanda Hess in the New York Times that just kicked the celebrity culture crush in the butt and called one after another out for their cluelessness about the working class and the public at large.  The headline was, “You’re a Celebrity, Who Cares?” Amen!

I’ll admit that a longstanding personal grievance I have with the Times has always been the daily Arts section.  In the tunnel vision from New York, we’re supposed to care more for random people and personalities in the arts, theater, films, and so forth than people in any other field of endeavor, often with our lives and futures in their hands.  I’m not saying none of that is important or of value, but I find the lack of balance and its special treatment so elitist and classist that it just galls me.  To finally hear one of their own who speaks through the Critics Notebook column call them out is not just refreshing, but exhilarating.  Of course, she’s also somewhat “one of them” who appreciates the molding in Robert DeNiro’s house, the Craftsman beams elsewhere and the equine wallpaper next to Zo Kravitz’s fireplace, which, frankly, most of us wouldn’t have noticed, but, nonetheless, we all get the point.

She says we are watching the “swift dismantling of the cult of celebrity,” so we say, hip-hip-hooray!  She adds that, “The #guillotine2020 hashtag is jumping.  As grocery aisles turn bare, some have suggested that perhaps they ought to eat the rich.”  Whoa, you, go sister!  She busts on Pharrell Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Gal Godot, J-Lo and Alex Rodriguez, and, then devastates Madonna.  This Jenny from the hood shtick is dead and gone.

And, let’s hear it for Louisiana home girl, Brittney Spears.  Yes, you heard me, hit it again, Brittney Spears.  I’ll let comrade Hess take it home,

Give me Brittney Spears, who has emerged from the crisis as the rare celebrity to tap into the need for radical social change.  Spears recently posted a bright yellow manifesto on Instagram from the internet artist Mimi Zhu.  “We will feed each other, re-distribute wealth, strike,” it reads.  “Communion moves beyond walls.”  Spears added three red roses to the caption, an ambiguous symbol reflecting either her support for the Democratic Socialists of America or perhaps simply her affinity for floral emoji.  Spears is an unexpected figure to lead us through quarantine, but a fitting one:  She has been under a conservatorship for 12 years, her movements and finances controlled by her father and overseen by the courts.  When she posts about finding community in social captivity, she knows what’s she’s talking about.”

Right on!