Tuesday, September 14, 2010

keeping up with the jone$es

Transitioning from summer into fall with a breezy floral blouse buttoned-up underneath the more autumnal mustard knit and tweed...

(sweater: H&M; shirt/belt: Bargain Boutique; skirt: Goodwill; shoes: Seychelles; nail polish: American Apparel)

The other night, K and I watched another Redbox gem, "The Jone$es," which I actually thought was rather timely and clever. It's a modern twist on the old catchphrase "Keeping up with the Joneses," which [fun fact!] originated in 1913 when a fellow named Arthur R. Momand penned a comic strip of the same name:


*SPOILER ALERT* In the film, a perfect nuclear family (the Joneses) moves into an enormous tudor mansion in an affluent suburban neighborhood and immediately infiltrates (and corners the market on) the "cool" sector of the community. They have all the newest gadgets, all the most fashionable clothes, and a picture-perfect life. As the story progresses, we discover that this "unit" is not a flesh-and-blood family, but a sales team--designed to push a variety of products on their unknowing neighbors with constant product placement and viral word-of-mouth advertising. And it works! As the indie-funk new girlfriend of the teenage "son" remarks, "You've been here two months and everybody's already drinking your Kool-Aid!" It was refreshingly clever--a creative portrayal of our current possession-obsessed consumer culture that had me nodding all the way through. I like these new movies (Up in the Air is another good example) that explore an attempt (and failure) to de-humanize us, to strip away the very best natural human qualities (compassion, love) and create a corporate robot that lives for the benefit of some economic coup (saving money, making money).

I just thought it was interesting, especially in lieu of recent blogger debates re: sponsorship and trend-chasing. It's like we've unwittingly signed up to inspire each other to consume, and a lot of bloggers are struggling with that. I think it's rather fascinating. Since fashion has always been a part of life (even ancient peoples liked to accessorize!), I don't feel like it falls under the same category as technological gadgets or other trendy toys. Fashion has a comforting cyclical quality, and there are always classic pieces that will never go out of style, whereas technology is all about abandonment and transience--just when we catch up (with the Joneses), they've moved on to the next big thing (case in point: in the film, Mr. Jones inspires his bankrupt neighbor to buy a fancy sports car identical to his, only to get the newer model a few weeks later) and we're left wanting once again. Last week, Tavi wrote an (always) amusing post about this very problem. What do you think? Will we even stop consuming? Will Apple ever plateau? Will we ever be able to keep up with the Joneses? Do you think we've been sucked into a neverending vortex of leapfrogging newer, better versions of the same products? I feel like I've accidentally merged onto some frenetic freeway and I just have to keep driving faster and faster around sharper and sharper curves until my car explodes (which it inevitably would--it's not the newest model). You know?


  1. Caitlin! That color is perfect on you. A lot of people just can't pull off mustard yellow but with your long dark hair & skin tone, it looks amazing. Kudos!

  2. Ooh, I just found this article. Well said! You know I grapple along with you on these issues, but I am inspired by your ability to thriftily look amazing (not that thrifting is a solution to consumerism, but at least it's a bit of a solution to brand obsession. Though I was excited to thrift some French Connection stuff the other day, ridiculous. I've been kind of wanting to see that movie as it does look intelligent.

    On another note, is it okay if I use one (or two) of your pictures for an upcoming favourite-fall-moments in the blogosphere post? This probably won't be for a month or so, just thought I'd ask in advance.