Brand Names Insult My Intelligence

I do not purchase clothing that prominently displays a brand name.  (On the other hand, I’d be tempted to wear an “I love Halliburton” t-shirt for the shock value.  But that’s another post…)  I am not a walking billboard and I am not stupid enough to pay for the privilege of becoming one.

Unfortunately, most people are not as wise as I am and I usually must remain silent about their mindless attire.

I’m not presumptuous enough to tell you that clothing should be art.  Since I’m less than wealthy, I see little point in plunking down over $100.00 for a designer shirt that will be shredded within a year or two.  (Those luxury goods aren’t always designed to last.  Rich people often care more about the latest fashions and they can afford to replace things more regularly.  In their minds, a shirt from 2012 has already gone out of style and belongs in the dumpster.)

Instead, I want my clothing to cover all of the necessary body parts and remain intact long enough to keep my bank account from crashing.   (Gender appropriateness is also important.)  Therefore: clearance racks!

And you thought this would be an advertisement for Wal-Mart…

This works for me because I’m a guy.  By contrast, women often like to accessorize with pretty things.  For example, a non-utilitarian purse.  They treat it like clothing and it has to match the outfit, so they often end up owning many purses.

I’ll leave the “battle of the sexes” content to the bloggers who do it better.  I’m more interested in the idiotic, and one particular design type stands out.  It’s the standard “look how special I am because I can afford an expensive brand” variety:

This demonstrates the owner's aesthetic excellence.  (Photo credit: )

This demonstrates the owner’s sense of aesthetic superiority. (Photo credit: prettycatty)

Let’s review.  You’re carrying around a container that holds cash, cards, and expensive electronics.  Why are you advertising to potential thieves that the contents might be especially valuable?  Of all the purses at the football game (note the obligatory transgression of gender stereotypes), yours now stands out as the most desirable to steal.  Brilliant!

Of course, your bag’s probably fake.  Just like you.

Funny how things work out…

Rice Insults My Intelligence

Would a rice by any other name smell as sweet?

riceAs my regular readers know, I like to shop at international grocery stores and the brand names are always a little confusing.  Instead of going with something obviously appetizing like Star-Kist that clearly describes the container’s contents, it seems that everything in the Asian food section is happy or joy or lucky or golden.

That’s right.  The packages are trying to tell us that the food will taste good.

It’s a foreign concept around here, literally.  People from those East Asian cultures make the mistake of assuming that their cultural preferences translate over to the American scene.  And they are mistaken.  They ought to do as every other great culture has done and pander to the lowest racist denominator.  We have:

Mahatma: based on an Indian name everyone recognizes

Uncle Ben’s: with the picture of a black guy on the box  (Is this for white people who remember that “Uncle” was a term that effectively denigrated slaves and their descendants or for black people who don’t remember the history?)

Rice-A-Roni: noticeably Italian brand with ethnically Italian-American founders who decided to corner the market on customers who think Italian food is too exotic.  That’s why they went the ultratraditionalist route and decided to highlight their San Francisco roots.  (This must be the only time since at least 1968 that invoking San Francisco would appeal to the most conservative crowd out there.)

And so I congratulate the folks at Golden Smell for not trying to focus their brand on an ethnic identity.  Unfortunately, the attempt didn’t succeed because the brand’s geographic origin is immediately recognizable.

And that’s kind of sad.  My pee has a golden smell.  That’s how the name translates in my world.

The Poor Man’s Snobbery Insults My Intelligence

You may think that only rich people can be snobs.  I intend to prove you wrong.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like international grocery stores.  Besides the selection of food, the products are usually cheaper and sometimes significantly so.  For instance,  you can find spices for obscenely low prices; the brand name companies represented at your regular grocery store sell you a small bottle of spice for a lot of money, but I get my spice for one to three dollars per pound.  These are Indian brands or direct imports by the international market for consumption by the local immigrant community.  I may not get the “comfort” of a familiar brand, but that’s relatively unimportant.  If a spice brand is good enough for people in (or from) India, it’s good enough for me.  The quality is there.

English: Brazilian Linguiça or pork sausage on...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But instead of seeking good deals, many Americans buy (literally) the food companies’ advertising.  The grocery stores keep telling us how much of a bargain their prices are and the manufacturers also bombard us with messages about their products’ quality and budget friendliness.  And people absorb these messages unquestioningly.

So, I was visiting some friends one time and decided to bring some sausage from a local mom-and-pop butcher shop run by immigrants.  (Usually, my friends supply all the food for everyone; this doesn’t seem right.)  The sausage at this shop costs 30-40% less than what the grocery store sells.  It’s also fresher and of much higher quality.  However, my friend (who is not poor by any means) responded self-righteously to my contribution and did so with more than a little discomfort; he had agreed to let me bring food but I think he overestimated his ability to deal with it.

Some people who aren’t rich take their economic status as a sign of virtue; my friend was no exception.  It also didn’t help that people have learned to equate price and quality.  I brought better stuff, which somehow meant that I was flaunting my “higher” status.   (Um… I’ve been unemployed for a while and wasn’t rich before that, but no matter.)   I recommended the store and mentioned the lower prices but my words fell on deaf ears.  “Our prudent Kroger is better than your profligate place, you scum.”  Or something like that.

If that’s not snobbery, I don’t know what is.

If you want to spend the extra money to finance a world of wonderful advertisements, be my guest.  I’d rather spend the cash on something useful, or perhaps keep it in my bank account.  I’m a big fan of frugality, but I guess that makes me a snob too.