Common People: A lyrical discussion/dissection

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Not all messages are displayed: show all messages (535 of them)

is that just one of those stretch SUV limos? i have seen them around!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

yes - pretty much - "Touch of Class" was the name of a company in Vegas that operated a fleet of them, that when i saw one, i shook my head and laughed, because those things are so ostentatiously a sign of failing at being classy.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:34 (3 years ago) Permalink

and that TV show - Jersey Shore?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:36 (3 years ago) Permalink

and i wonder if we're deliberately avoiding working class American attitudes towards class, and those of people of other classes, because it would involve a discussion about race

can't imagine that discussion going well, but...

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

don't go there dude.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

haha for real

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:38 (3 years ago) Permalink

goole thoroughly OTM IMO

Given that the lyrics specifically paint a picture of someone ridiculously wealthy, arguing about whether it's attacking upper-middle/upper-class but cash poor people is kind of beside the point.

fun fact: neither posh, "middle class" nor any other class is actually referred to in the lyrics

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:39 (3 years ago) Permalink

i think history mayne's interpretation is pretty solid

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:41 (3 years ago) Permalink

don't go there dude.

nup

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

help me describe how money does not equal class in America!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:42 (3 years ago) Permalink

class is culture as much as money. my mom's parents were east coast society snobs from way back, and so my mom was too, though she was just a schoolteacher and married badly. and so i am too, in a distant way, though i have always lived at the edge of poverty. similarly, lots of people attain wealth quickly but remain chavish, rent SUV stretch limos, purchase awful sprawling homes with no character, laugh too loudly at the wrong things and wear bad sandals.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

i guess i just feel like perceptions of class as culture are part of what contribute to Americans not actually being aware of how class affects their lives. i'm not saying people think of class as about money here; i guess i'm saying that they should.

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

otm

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

see, i feel like a lot of Americans do perceive class = money and dance around the cultural signifiers which are a relation to class and the values of various classes. Education is a big one. Consumer goods is another.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

vis-a-vis people like Sarah Palin and George Bush selling themselves as regular people when they are crazy rich

xxp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

well yeah - but i see the problem with that as Palin and Bush politically fuck over "regular people" - like if they had politics that actually benefited working people, their public images wouldn't be as nauseating

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

I've been told by multiple people, including some who know me very well (girlfriend who tried to downplay my class background in conversation) that I don't "seem working class." Which pisses me off on two levels - I take a lot of pride in my background, and I'm offended at the idea that listening to weird music or appearing to be intelligent in some way is a signifier that I didn't grow up helping my dad and grandfather out putting on roofs when I was 10 or that I don't have an irrational fear of money because I remember my parents scrambling for rent almost every month in elementary school.

Class is about money and opportunities (and yes, race).

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

but your attitude about money is cultural.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

but sarahel, whatever people's attitudes about money some people measurably have more than others!!!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

sure they do - but i'm saying that money affects people culturally as well as opposed to just materially.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

conspicuous consumption is part material wealth as well as cultural attitudes about money

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:57 (3 years ago) Permalink

see, i feel like a lot of Americans do perceive class = money and dance around the cultural signifiers which are a relation to class and the values of various classes. Education is a big one. Consumer goods is another.

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:51 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark

yeah, kind of...

i guess i'd put it like this: people in the US tend to kneejerk assume their political enemies are of a different class than themselves, either much richer, or poorer, or some unholy alliance of the two

this only really a percetpional battle within the median income bands, where political opinion is really up for grabs. you have to look at region, occupation and education to get a bead on who they vote for/what they believe, drilling down further than just yearly income.

however, the number of liberal billionaires is really small, no matter how much right wingers hate them. and the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small, no matter how much liberals are terrified of them.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

but sarahel, whatever people's attitudes about money some people measurably have more than others!!!

yeah, but that's self-evident and doesn't require further elaboration. what sarah's saying is not so obvious and opens up on some interesting subtleties. even if they carry less weight than the base-level money stuff.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

i'm talking more about lifestyle and social relationships more than politics -

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small

what exactly do you mean by "arch-conservative" here, because I feel like you are glossing over a large invisible-to-white-America cross-section of the American minority experience that can't be summed up by "votes Republican"

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (3 years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small, no matter how much liberals are terrified of them.

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 1:59 PM (31 seconds ago) Bookmark

this is somewhat true, but also misleading. the number of not entirely impoverished but lower-income arch conservatives is VAST.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

contenderizer i think you have it exactly backwards -- the cultural baggage of what we mean when we say e.g. "working class" is all very upfront, while the raw dollar values that underly all these things are occluded and take some digging to see clearly.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

where and how are they occluded? i think we might just be talking around each other - about different aspects of life.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

i mean, if you're referring to how "hot button" political issues are more about culture and moral beliefs as opposed to economics, then i totally agree.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:06 (3 years ago) Permalink

look, a guy who works in a hard hat and likes country! that's working class! a woman working in an office and bought the new franzen novel, middle class! see, so easy!

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

similarly, lots of people attain wealth quickly but remain chavish

haaa strange to see an american using that term....

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:10 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

otm

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

...and that, i think, its what's going on in the song, like i argued upthread. the girl wants to play around with a culture that looks free and fun, and the guy is trying to get her to see that it's the (materially) constrained nature of that life that makes it what it is.

xp to myself

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

and how much someone gets paid for their labor is only so determinant. How dependent is that person on a particular company, or industry, and what are their working conditions? Like, city bus drivers make pretty good money. But they have to drive a bus, and wear crappy polyester uniforms, and take shit from customers, and let's say they get tired of being a bus driver, what else are they qualified to do? Compare that to a community college professor (who makes about the same amount) - the professor gets an office, gets to more or less wear what they want, they get to be treated with dignity and respect, etc.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 4:13 PM (2 minutes ago)

What are some examples of the stuff that isn't?

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (3 years ago) Permalink

let's take milo's example of being worried about money. This seems to be something that is common to people who grew up working class - whereas someone who grew up middle class or higher (barring traumatic event to the family where they had serious problems), has less of a panic about it, because they're used to being comfortable.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

^^ this actually kinda goes back to the song

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (3 years ago) Permalink

yes, that's the "on the surface" shit i'm talking about! bus drivers are more 'low class' than professors. i think in class discussions you have to run the "determinance" the other way -- what does the surfacey class stuff buy you? the bus driver in his shitty uniform and the comm college professor with his office (yeah right, btw), turns out they aren't different

xp

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

...that has nothing to do with culture! if you grew up working class, you don't have a safety net. if your parents have $$$, you do!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (3 years ago) Permalink

sure they are different! the community college professor gets summers off - they could take their family on a long vacation somewhere improving. their work conditions make it easier for them to remain physically healthy. they have education and the trappings of such (e.g. books) to pass down to their children, so they can get a head start on attaining a good class position.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:23 (3 years ago) Permalink

that's assuming the parents with $$ are going to give it to you if you need it, horseshoe. and if you've actually experienced poverty or financial struggle, it is highly likely you are going to have a different attitude to it than someone who hasn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'd echo sarah's question. when we say "working class", we typically mean blue collar workers & menial laborers, probably making enough to get by, many living quite comfortably and able retire early, depending on their line of work. then again, many struggling at the very edge of destitution. it's a range.

when we say "middle class" we mean another range: white collar & professional workers who might make less money than well-paid members of the working class, but often make a good deal more, theses blending into small businessmen and entrepreneurs, marx's petit bourgeois.

and our "upper class" are the wealthiest elite, including political & corporate movers and shakers, old money pseudo-aristocrats - basically people who don't have to worry about money, but do anyway.

note that this rather self-evident set of divisions doesn't have anything to do with cultural class. these are simply the wealth-based tears that incubate the cultural class stuff.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

because what poverty means is not having money!

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

the song doesn't have a lot to do w/ these nonfinancial class signifiers

i'm pretty sure it could be transposed to 2010 america w/ minimal edits

smc = risd?
common ppl = regla folks? workin joes?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:27 (3 years ago) Permalink

but the fear of not having money, when you are ok for now, or even comfortably off - the way one lives one's life, the things they value - that are a result of experiencing poverty, are cultural.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

in the US this would have to be an alt-country song, probably

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

doesn't the contrived folksiness of those ethnonyms for the ppl just above white trash repulse yr LATTE LIBERALS?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (3 years ago) Permalink

that last post to goole. agree that well-paid blue collar workers make as much as or more than bottom-rung middle class professionals. but this equivalence is a mirage, because you're looking only at the point where the classes overlap. at the other end of the working class/middle class intersection, the lives of 50-year-old minimum wage menial laborers trying to support families have almost nothing to do with those of successful small businesspeople and white collar professonals (doctors, lawyers, business administrators, bankers, etc).

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (3 years ago) Permalink


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.