Quotes: Conspicuous Consumption

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    Film — Live-Action 

Yeah, it's funny in a rich man's world
When I use a piece of string,
I use a string of pearls!
If something's for sale, consider it sold
I got so much gold, I gold plate my gold!
I even got a guy to gold plate my cat
(I don't regret much, but I do regret that)
If I could start over I'd do it all the same
But I wouldn't gold plate little Twinkles again
—"Let's Talk About Me", Tex Richman, (The Muppets)

"Jewish people driving German cars
Jewish people driving German cars
Jewy people buying German cars
What the
cock is that shit?
—"I Love You More", Sarah Silverman (Jesus Is Magic)

Those were $500 sunglasses.
Johnny Cage, preparing to kick ass and take spinal columns


For average working folks, America was becoming a puzzle. Who was buying all these two-hundred-dollar copper saucepans, anyway? And how was everyone paying for these BMWs? Were people shrewd or just stupefyingly irresponsible?
Daniel Suarez, Daemon

Am I right in suggesting that ordinary life is a mean between these extremes, that the noble man devotes his material wealth to lofty ends, the advancement of science, or art, or some such true ideal; and that the base man does the opposite by concentrating all his abilities on the amassing of wealth? Exactly; that is the real distinction between the artist and the bourgeois, or, if you prefer it, between the gentleman and the cad.
Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

    Live-Action TV 

My SHOES cost more than your HOUSE!

Lex: It's the Luthor ancestral home, or so my father claims. He had it shipped over from Scotland, stone by stone.
Clark: Yeah, the trucks rolled through town for weeks, but no one ever moved in.
Lex: My father had no intention of living here. He's never even stepped through the front door.
Clark: Then why he'd ship it over?
Lex: Because he could.
Smallville, "Pilot"


That's that: 'Come here, please buy more'
What you want a Bentley, fur coat and diamond chain?
All you blacks want all the same things'
Kanye West, "New Slaves"

They be like, 'Oh, that Gucci — that's hella tight!'
I'm like, 'Yo... that's fifty dollars for a T-shirt'
Limited edition, let's do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt, that's just some ignorant bitch
I call that getting swindled and pimped
I call that getting tricked by a business
Macklemore, "Thrift Shop"


Some of these people make my skin crawl. The characters of Sex And The City 2 are flyweight bubbleheads living in a world which rarely requires three sentences in a row. Their defining quality is consuming things. They gobble food, fashion, houses, husbands, children, vitamins and freebies. They must plan their wardrobes on the phone, so often do they appear in different basic colors, like the plugs you pound into a Playskool workbench.

    Stand-Up Comedy 

I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.
Steve Martin


I'd build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen
Right in the middle of the town
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show!
Fiddler on the Roof, "If I Were a Rich Man"

    Video Games 

Weather the new Great Depression with a car from the last Great Depression. When this rolled off the production line in 1937, minorities and women knew their place. It was the world's fastest automobile. Now it's the world's most expensive second-hand automobile. One of only 10 ever made, the Z-Type is a car you can really enjoy sitting in, surrounded by army guards, too terrified to actually drive it anywhere.
—Legendarymotorsport.net description of the Z-Type coupé, Grand Theft Auto V

Hey, buddy - ah, these pretzels suck - how's your day been, buddy? We haven’t really talked much since I left you for dead! Hey, you think you’ll freeze to death out there? Nah, probably not. The bandits’ll get you first. My day? It's been pretty good. Just bought a pony made of diamonds, because I’m rich. So, you know. That’s cool. 'Kay bye!
Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2

I wonder if dictators have that whole one-up thing that neighbours have with each other, like, do they have this “keeping up with the Joneses” for the one percent of sociopaths? Like, did Pagan see that gigantic statue of himself, did he buy that just because Kim Jong-Un has a statue of himself like that? Maybe he also said the same thing, like “Aw man, Kim Jong-Un has a golden toilet, I need a golden toilet, I mean I have to shit in a golden bowl. I have to. I mean look at what Kim Jong-Un has.” Life must be so different for the evil subset of the one percent. Hm...

    Web Animation 

Do bear in mind that there isn't any swimming in Sims 4. So you can no longer lure them into the pool and delete the ladder, which was so iconic to the series, they might as well have removed the green diamond thing. I wonder if, in their snip-happy way, EA truly realizes how devastating to the core principle removing swimming pools really is. What The Sims is is a consumerist middle class fantasy about walling yourself off from the real world and reducing all measurement of human development and personal success to one's possessions, your dragon's hoard of crass suburban decadence. And in that game of Top Trumps, the swimming pool is a kingly crown!

    Web Original 

Supposedly, a sooth-sayer of Tiberius's said "Caligula has about as much chance of becoming emperor as he does of riding a horse across the Bay of Pigs." Caligula clearly got wind of this as he designed a floating bridge, connecting the province of Baiae to the neighbouring port of Puteoli and road his horse Incitatus across it wearing the armour of Alexander the Great which you have to admit is pretty cool. It nearly crashed the economy however.

Consumerists are slaves with white collars. Advertisements have them chasing cars and clothes, working jobs they hate so they can buy shit they don't need. They are the middle children of history. No purpose or place. They have no great war, or great depression. Their great war should be a spiritual war. Their great depression is their lives. Raised by television to believe that one day they'll all be millionaires, movie gods and rock stars. But they won't.

I scoured Amazon.com and collected 10 of the most luxuriously and insanely overpriced items from their sprawling, madman-populated database. Rich people, drop another panda heart into your helicopter's dog kennel and let's get ready to shop! Poor people, this seems like a good time to warn you that I'm in a helicopter, hunting you.

Together, we might just make it possible for Richard Branson to finally land on Europa and finger bang a model...In our lifetimes, David and Charles Koch, Warren Buffet, and maybe three to four other extremely rich men and their wives might walk upon the face of a hospitable alien world. They can finally have whatever laws they want. All it takes is the collective willpower to make it happen.

We can witness the dawning of a post-terrestrial age, when anyone with over 50 billion dollars net worth can see an alien clam and eat an alien bird. The Chinese, new masters of the earth, are doing their own thing, landing taikonauts on the moon and maybe Mars. But someday we hope that they will realize their full potential and join with the world community to send a few super rich Chinese men into space.

Seahawks owner Paul Allen bought a refurbished Soviet fighter jet. And apparently, for a cool $7 million, you will soon be able purchase the Saker S-1, a military-style jet designed for personal use. There's definitely a market for this sort of thing among billionaire playboys who have run out of ideas for how to waste money.

FAA regulations prevent you from owning a fully armed fighter jet. (I'm surprised the lobbyists at BIG MISSILE haven't protested this—it just goes to show you that weapons enthusiasts won't make trouble so long as they have insanely lucrative private contracts with the government already in place.) However, I'm pretty sure that outside the U.S. there are rich people who own entire FLEETS of fighter jets, tanks, and other assorted weaponry. Shit, the Russian Army is basically Putin's personal playset...If you can imagine it, rich people have purchased it.

If you somehow manage to machete your way through traffic, road closures, and rich drunk assholes en route to the luxury boxes their rich asshole fathers bought them for not wrecking the yacht this year, you will be asked to pay an arm and a leg in parking fees, even after you've mortgaged your home and sacrificed your first born to get a ticket. As if it needs repeating, the product on the field is not worth it, but everyone in the stands will still have a good time. This is because they are reading the New York Post on their iPads and have to be reminded by the scoreboard when to cheer.

Matt Yglesias publishes article trumpeting Vertu, a maker of a $6,000 luxury android phone. He gets a raft of shit. Responds by posting a photograph he took on vacation in Hanoi of a couple having their wedding photo taken near a Vertu sign. Claims it means $6,000 smart phones are aspirational.

Martha Stewart got a drone for her birthday last year ('in Maine,' she notes, Martha Stewart-ishly) and it turns out she just can't get enough droning. In a TIME op-ed titled 'Why I Love My Drone,' she explains why: Because it makes it way easier to craft a marzipan Peter Rabbit cake that's an exact replica of her farm. <—-ACTUAL REASON.
Lindy West, "Martha Stewart Has Her Own Drone And She Fucking Loves It"

Being a successful gold digger is so much more than just stealing a mountain of cash from a sugar daddy and spending it on platinum dildos and diamond clitty rings...Heather has already burned through $20 million of her $50 million divorce settlement in just seven months. What has she actually been buying? Heather has spent most of her cash on her homes of sin. She reportedly had a $2 million pool put into her England home. She bought a $5 million apartment in NYC and spent around $12 million in renovating her other joints. Heather also paid her staff members around $500,000. Recently, she donated $1 million in vegetarian food to a group of kids in the Bronx. Yes, because kids really love tofu dogs and bird seed patties.
Michael K., "Heather Mills is a Dumb Gold Digger"

As happens with all technology, HDTVs eventually became so affordable that any place with a waiting room bought them up for cheap and slapped them onto walls. Almost none of those waiting room HDTVs actually have an HD signal running through them. An HDTV without an HD signal is like a pair of glasses without lenses. Yeah, you can probably still see stuff, but who wants to see through a smear of peanut butter over their eyes when there are better options readily available? People would rather use HD screens as decorative accents. They're status symbols. They're the new version of an animal's stuffed head mounted on a wall... If you're going to torture me, do it with panache. Show that you care. Put some effort into making me hate your waiting room by not pissing away technology so you can give the illusion of success.

The lack of money for the important stuff can be readily seen in areas where it wasn't needed; for instance, triple-breasted cat dancer. Your movie doesn't turn on the existence on triple-breasted cat dancers, so if you're short on money, spend it where you see the actual deficiency in your overall story, because people will not walk away talking about her, they'll be talking about what your film was supposed to be about. And let's not forget that Star Trek 5 was second only to TMP as far as budget went; it had more budget in it than Star Trek 2 and 3 put together, so there's no real excuse there either.

    Web Video 

When Lorde released 'Royals' and blasted all those pop songs and rap songs about partying and stuff, she didn't do it because it was overdone, or because she doesn't like partying, or because she doesn't get hip hop and she's looking down on people who had to work for their success. No, she doesn't like these songs because they're goddamn boring! It's like watching a sports movie where, instead of being undergdogs, the heroes start out the no. 1 team and then they win every game and they become champions.

    Real Life 

In this book, dating from 1899, Veblen discovers and defines the leisure class, whose strange duty is to spend money significantly. So, they live in a neighborhood, because it is said that this neighborhood is the most expensive. Liebermann or Picasso fixed large sums [for their paintings], not because they were greedy, but to not disappoint the buyers whose purpose was to show that they could afford a cloth bearing their signature. According to Veblen, the golf boom is due to the fact that it requires a lot of ground.... If a manager does not have time for conspicuous waste, his wife or their children do so for him, so that periodic changes of fashion provide liveries.
Jorge Luis Borges prologue of Thorstein Veblen's Theory Of The Leisure Class (The reader can find more about this book at Conspicuous Consumption, Real Life).

I remember once when he got sick, the only time as a performer when I knew he got sick. Altovise [his wife] called me on the second day and said, 'What are we going to do for money?' And that's when I looked at the five hundred gold watches. He had no financial stability whatsoever.
Leslie Bricusse on Sammy Davis Jr

If they earned £10 million, they'd blow it all by buying Jura or a fleet of K Foundation airships or a Van Gogh to be ceremonially burned.
Sarah Champion on The KLF

Because I can.
David A. Siegel, on building a scale replica of Versailles for himself

I don't think people went around saying to themselves: 'I need to have a 10,000 square foot house.' We weren't exposed to things we didn't have in the same way kids these days are. There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success.
Barack Obama on the American Dream, old vs. new

It's a funny thing about Americans, we love to bitch about paying too much for the things we really need and are really a bargain, like gas and postage stamps, but we willingly shell out outrageous amounts for unnecessary crap like gourmet coffee and soap to make your crotch smell good.
Bill Maher

On clubbers: They were all photographing themselves. In fact, that's all they seemed to be doing. Standing around in expensive clothes, snapping away with phones and cameras. One pose after another, as though they needed to prove their own existence, right there, in the moment. Crucially, this seemed to be the reason they were there in the first place. There was very little dancing. Just pouting and flashbulbs.