The late comedian Bill Hicks is renowned by the left as a truth-teller about America-
The problem with this is that what Hicks was marketing, angry left-wing rebellion, was the biggest selling consumer product of the last 50 years. He was himself both a product marketed, and despite his strenuous denial, an excellent and sophisticated marketer.
In the past possession of goods, even one as basic as food, was a status marker. Fat was good; only rich people could afford to eat enough to be fat. Later leisure time came to be more prestigious, but the 40-hour work week and vacation time made that a little less true. Cars and houses are still status symbols, but even the less affluent can afford nice cars and big houses, although not in the best neighborhoods.
Education is a kind of status symbol. Upper-middle class leftists like to attend expensive northeastern colleges normal people haven’t heard of, like Bennington. This is of course as much about acquiring attitudes and exclusivity as anything else.
If everybody can have something, it can’t confer status. This exclusivity can be imaginary though. If a product must be used publicly, such as clothing, vehicles, or dining, the user might see a person with whom he does not wish to share the status consuming it. Fashion often filters from the hip to the unhip, requiring the unhip to come up with something new, a never-ending quest.
If the product can be consumed privately, however, this issue never comes up. The consumer never needs to face the idea that this product is not the provenance of a special few. This applies to TV, radio, the internet, and books, although for our purposes it’s the first three.
When a person with a leftist identification- they are often called SWPLs, sometimes DWLs, or possibly less complimentary names- watches Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, or reads Andrew Sullivan or the Daily Kos, he is told he is one of the special ones, one of the ones who gets it, who isn’t bamboozled by the big corporate media, the crazy preachers, or the repressed hypocrites. These products aren’t mean to sway the undecided, any more than to convert the apostates; they are meant to foster a sense of solidarity, unity, and exclusivity.