Whether “selflies” are indulgent or the modern portrait is too distant in “Too Poor for Pop Culture” where D. Watkins shows money is access to popular culture. As the middle-class swoops down to new depths be prepared to return to radio, dumb phones, crap comfort food, and disinformation. You won’t know what you’re missing.
“A yo, Michelle was gonna beat on Barack for taking dat selfie with dat chick at the Mandela wake! Whateva da fuk a selfie is! What’s a selfie, some type of bailout?” yelled Dontay from the kitchen, dumping Utz chips into a cracked flowery bowl. I was placing cubes into all of our cups and equally distributing the vodka like, “Some for you and some for you …”
“What the fuck is a selfie?” said Miss Sheryl.
“When a stupid person with a smartphone flicks themselves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eyebrow, “Oh?”
It’s amazing how the news seems so instant to most from my generation with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actually it isn’t. The idea of information being class-based as well became evident to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old story as if it happened yesterday.
Money make the difference between participating in popular culture or not.
Dontay cleans nonstop. Roaches sleeping in the fridge, roaches relay racing out of the cabinets carrying cereal boxes, purchasing homes, building families, slipping through cracks for fun and weaving in and out of death — Dontay bleaches them all. Dontay doesn’t take handouts from us and won’t go on government assistance. He couldn’t contribute to the chips and vodka that week so he’s cleaned for Miss Sheryl and would clean for Miss Sheryl even if there were no chips and vodka.
“Chips and Vodka” Everybody just trying to get away. Better chips and vodka than a smartphone or iPad. If you wonder why…
Eventually the mass death of my close friends caused me to leave the drug game in search of a better life. Ten-plus years and three college degrees later, I’m back where I started, just like my card-playing friends: too poor to participate in pop culture. Too poor to give a fuck about a selfie or what Kanye said or Beyoncé’s new album and the 17 videos it came with.
I bought Beyonce for the sake of research and it weirdly rocked me for several days of indoor food preservation work while dealing with cold weather and holidays. First time I have bought an album within a week of its release–just hit “Buy” in iTunes. I didn’t even write about it, yet. That album is three days of chips and vodka. Listening to “Drunkin Love” or “Flawless” doesn’t do the same thing
You can’t even comment on your own existence much less hear of others when chips and vodka poor. Urban Amish. Urban neoluddites unable to break apart the machines taking their jobs away–or know what the hell a luddite is. I’ll send them a selfie of one.