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Kids + Money + Los Angeles = ?
June 14, 2007 1:17 PM   Subscribe

"I just like to have the hottest of the hottest. Whatever's hot at the time" In the spring of 2007, Lauren Greenfield conducted interviews with Los Angeles teenagers on the subject of money and how it affects their lives. The link is a 15-minute selection of those interviews.
posted by revmitcz (60 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope they bring these people back in twenty years. That'll be...fun.
posted by jdotglenn at 1:30 PM on June 14, 2007


"You have to be popular..."

Why, why do you have to be popular, if it means just buying meaningless plastic shit every weekend?

I should stop commenting while listening to these silly geese.
posted by jdotglenn at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2007


Los Angeles teenagers

That's your problem right there. New York teenagers spend their money on Colt 45 and mushrooms.
posted by nasreddin at 1:40 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Please to explain how this is different from the rest of Los Angeles' population.
posted by ninjew at 1:43 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


What's sort of interesting is how now matter how materialistic the interviewed teenagers are, they all seem convinced that their spending habits are ok, while the spending habits of their classmates are the ones that are totally overboard.
posted by deanc at 1:44 PM on June 14, 2007


so wait, it's a NY Times story?

I heard that teens in L.A. like to skip class and sell yellowcake uranium in the bathroom.


Seriously, though, I'm glad they exposed this evil materialism that infects our city. I only hope someday us Angelenos can be taught the error of our ways, and learn to live free from the shackles of materialism and give away all our possessions to the needy, like everyone in Manhattan does.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:46 PM on June 14, 2007 [10 favorites]


Hey, did you see that Hispanic kid? I really, really hope he's legal. I can't believe these illegals, coming to America and teaching their children better values than the natives.

Kiss your fat dumbass goodbye, America!
posted by jdotglenn at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2007


Please to explain how this is different from the rest of Los Angeles' population.

Well you see, approximately 6 million people live in L.A. County. Like most places on earth, some are very wealthy, but the vast majority are middle class or poor.

There, I explained it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Further proof, if any were needed, that we as a civilization require some firm medicine. As Dr.Hibbert would say, it has to be terror sweat.

I suggest an invigorating session of genocide, followed by a cool draught of technological terror, presided over by someone who knows the tonic we need and in what measure it must be applied.

I humbly offer myself to fill that role. You are all MyChildren™, and this is for your OwnGood™.
posted by aramaic at 1:53 PM on June 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


"The profound crisis of human identity brought on by living within a lie, a crisis which in turn makes such a life possible, certainly possesses a moral dimension as well; it appears, among other things, as a deep moral crisis in society. A person who has been seduced by the consumer value system, whose identity is dissolved in an amalgam of the accouterments of mass civilization, and who has no roots in the order of being, no sense of responsibility for anything higher than his own personal survival, is a demoralized person. The system depends on this demoralization, deepens it, is in fact a projection of it into society."
-Václav Havel


"Materialism, among all nations, is a dangerous disease of the human mind; but it is more especially to be dreaded among a democratic people because it readily amalgamates with that vice which is the most familiar to the heart under such circumstances. Democracy encourages a taste for physical gratification; this taste, if it becomes excessive, soon disposes men to believe that all is matter only; and materialism, in its turn, hurries them on with mad impatience to these same delights; such is the fatal circle within which democratic nations are driven round. It were well that they should see the danger and hold back."
-Alex de Tocqueville


"Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction."
-Thomas Jefferson


Baubles = bondage for the middle class. Fuck Paris. Fuck The Republican party. They are not your friends. They want you addicted to debt, so that you will remain powerless, and they remain ultrarich.

It is time to wake up. $300 Habitual jeans are insane. $3000 Hermes bags are insane.

Don't waste away your life for trinkets.
posted by four panels at 1:55 PM on June 14, 2007 [26 favorites]


drjimmy11 writes "Well you see, approximately 6 million people live in L.A. County."

9.5 million in the 2000 census. Probably North of 10 million now...
posted by mr_roboto at 1:57 PM on June 14, 2007


I am interested in your pompous self-important blabber, four panels, where can I subscribe to your newsletter.

Or is it a 'zine?
posted by eyeballkid at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Full disclosure : I live in Hollywood, a mere 2 blocks from the infamous Hollywood/Highland intersection and a mere 500 feet from the "walk of fame". I'm at the base of the Hollywood Hills - so about 1/2 block up my street are houses that start at $600k for a 2 bedroom shack.

It can be difficult to ignore the constant push of the materialism cult, but like any other city - the people run the gamut between shallow, selfish money-loving pricks and those who hate all that and the city itself, but find a sort of comfort in the mediocrity of it all and how silly it looks from outside that circle.

It's Hollywood for Hollywood residents. That's our entertainment.
posted by revmitcz at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2007


I am interested in your vacuous rebuttal, eyeballkid, and wish to subscribe to your blogroll.
posted by boo_radley at 2:05 PM on June 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


911 changed everything a couple of things.
posted by psmealey at 2:06 PM on June 14, 2007


Can I watch this on my iPhone?
posted by william_boot at 2:08 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, did you see that Hispanic kid? I really, really hope he's legal. I can't believe these illegals, coming to America and teaching their children better values than the natives.

Kiss your fat dumbass goodbye, America!


??
surely you must understand the cardstacking involved with this short film
posted by Grizzlepaws at 2:08 PM on June 14, 2007


I was a teenager in the Valley not four years ago, and watching this, I wished they'd say where these kids went to high school. Were they all from Harvard Westlake? I mean, those rich kids are hardly representative of teens in LA on the whole, that school drips money and privilege.

I guess it says something in and of itself that knowing where the teenagers go to school would tell me so much, but god, if they talked to kids from North Hollywood High down the street they'd hear a different story.
posted by crinklebat at 2:11 PM on June 14, 2007


crinklebat OTM
posted by Grizzlepaws at 2:12 PM on June 14, 2007


You guys can watch this? It's just been stuck on loading for me forever...
posted by unixrat at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2007


Watching this just kind of made me sad, and not because of the materialism or gross consumerism. It's that they seem to feel this insane pressure to be hip and gorgeous.

Teenagers are, with few exceptions, gangly, awkward, homely, have poor complexions, bad hair, bad teeth and even worse social skills. But, it can be an awesome time, precisely because you are permitted not to give a shit about all that. When you forsake that, in favor of some kind of boring lifestyle (that's always going to be there for you in your 20s and beyond, if you really want it), you're missing something valuable. Just my $0.02, but these kids are more worthy of our pity than our derision. Maybe.
posted by psmealey at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a fellow Angelino, I have to say that there really is a real soul eroding materialism amongst a certain class of people out here. These kids have grown up in an amoral materialism that, quite frankly, revolts me, but I see it in people here, particularly ones that grew up out here.

It's not to say that there aren't shallow materialists elsewhere, but , I assure you, when I was growing up in Virginia, I never saw the kinds of gross materialism that's taken for granted in certain sections of L.A.

In Silverlake, where I live, these kids would be laughed at. In Beverly Hills, this is de rigeur.
posted by MythMaker at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2007


What did Patton Oswalt say the other day? "Los Angeles - it's five of the best cities in America, and three of the worst."
posted by fungible at 2:27 PM on June 14, 2007


"Full disclosure : I live in Hollywood, a mere 2 blocks from the infamous Hollywood/Highland intersection and a mere 500 feet from the "walk of fame". "

Dude, the Hollywood/Highland Center mall thing is the most grotesque commerical temple I have ever seen.

And I normally am not prone to that kind of talk. Im as material as the next guy, but THAT fucking place looks like a sacrificial temple from Stargate, except theres a Sunglass Hut.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I made it to 3:06 before I couldn't stand it any more. I couldn't take those silly bitches going on about bags that run more than my rent. Psmealey's not wrong - the media has poisoned these kids. I'm just not likely to pity someone who could put my college tuition on their platinum card.

unixrat - you using Mozilla? I had the same problem until I swallowed my pride and loaded IE. The software was so excited to have a use!
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:38 PM on June 14, 2007


MythMaker, I'm a Virginia transplant to Los Angeles as well, and I saw all kinds of gross materialism in every social class growing up. Swatch watches, Reebok Pumps, matching Ford Explorers for the twins' 16th birthday... even the lowest of the low in junior high school HAD TO HAVE the shoes that lit up when you walked. Even the developmentally disabled guy HAD TO HAVE his red leather jacket.

If anything, it's nice to see it out in the open here, so I can know whom to avoid on sight. (And yeah, I'm not immune to material things—have I showed you my collection of signed sci-fi/fantasy 1st eds?)
posted by infinitewindow at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


four panels comment wins Metafilter. I wish it could be cross-posted to the sugary cereal thread.

What was the first thing out of every republican's and democrat's mouth after 9-11? "Go shopping." Spend spend spend. God forbid you respond to an act of war on U.S. soil by saving your money.

That money is supposed to go to the corporations, so that they can have growing revenues so that the government can say what a great job it's doing.

You are supposed to save money and not carry personal debt right? That's what every F/P advises. But what if everyone did that? What if retailers lost 30% of their revenues, and people started paying down their mortgages on their old house instead of getting interest only suicide loans to buy a mansion that TV says they can have?

To form an identity, you have to be a creative, insightful being. But schools aren't structure to have that as a goal (rather they teach conformity). So what to people do? They acquire an identity by purchasing products that are advertised as imparting that identity. Ego involvement.

Are you successful? Maybe maybe not, but that sounds too much like an objective truth that you're not comfortable with, so how about you just buy a BMW with a huge car loan, and convey to the rest of us the impression that you are successful.

See, it's not that the car defines you or imparts the identity. It's just a car, after all. It's the onlooker's image of you that forms your identity. Same with every bit of conspicuous consumption.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:43 PM on June 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


See, it's not that the car defines you or imparts the identity. It's just a car, after all. It's the onlooker's image of you that forms your identity. Same with every bit of conspicuous consumption.

Sorry guy, I only listen to dude's that drink VitaminWater.

Youre just some plain water dick.


Probably poor too.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:46 PM on June 14, 2007


Of course, back in my day, I made it a rule to never pay any attention to teachers who could not adhere to my same high standards of consumerism. I mean, if they weren't sporting a Members Only jacket, either they were too poor to afford one or so egregiously clueless as to not realize the social importance of having one, and in either case I certainly wouldn't want to be instructed by someone so unworthy.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 2:57 PM on June 14, 2007


911 changed everything a couple of things.

What was the first thing out of every republican's and democrat's mouth after 9-11? "Go shopping."


I remember catching a snippet of some standup comic's act a couple months after 9/11. Very obese guy who looks like he's about 16? I think he may have been on Last Comic Standing? Never caught his name.

Anyway, he went off on a rant in this self-righteous damn-straight tone about how watching the towers fall on TV had freaked him out so much he felt he deserved cheap gas for his troubles. Like he was a war vet, like he'd earned it. This inspired one of those sudden bursts of boisterous amen-brother applause from the audience (might've been Jimmy Kimmel's).

I remember thinking, damn, guess 9/11 changed a lot. Thinking, this shit's gonna get very very ugly before it can even begin to think about getting better.
posted by gompa at 2:58 PM on June 14, 2007


Who's paying for the $3,000 handbags that the teen girls claim are such a great value? Do they have their own credit cards or are they using Mom's or Dad's? Or did they earn the money working 40 hours a week after school, with no time to do homework?

I still remember the day back in my own high school days in the mid '80s when I walked in with a pair of granny boots that cost $80. I had saved up my yardwork and allowance money for weeks. They were horrified.

My family is "middle-class." College was not an issue. Stupid purchases were, from their viewpoint.
posted by bad grammar at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2007


See, it's not that the car defines you or imparts the identity. It's just a car, after all. It's the onlooker's image of you that forms your identity. Same with every bit of conspicuous consumption.

Sorry guy, I only listen to dude's that drink VitaminWater.

Youre just some plain water dick.


Probably poor too.


I'm poor.

And I drink VitaminWater.
posted by Samizdata at 3:44 PM on June 14, 2007


Oh you don't have a job? You don't get four digits to spend on a what? A bag! If you are making six figures a year go for it, otherwise you are a mooch. And it's not like I don't like some nice things, I remember saving up money and buying a nice pair of Stacey Adams two-tone leather wingtips. That was about a $90 pair of shoes. How in the hell can Nike ask for more than that for ugly sneakers? I am so unhip.

Get job ya damn kids, and stay off my lawn.
posted by MrBobaFett at 3:49 PM on June 14, 2007


I drink water and take a vitamin?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2007


Four figures on a really classic bag is totally appropriate? Four figures? Are you fricking kidding me? I put four figures down on my house.
posted by fusinski at 4:27 PM on June 14, 2007


I can has hermes branded lobotomy? It iz cool!
posted by lalochezia at 4:28 PM on June 14, 2007


It makes me sad that those kids would gleefully run me down for sport, just because I'm poor.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:38 PM on June 14, 2007


still loading. i agree with the cardstacking comment, however. you can always find a handful of consumeroids anywhere, especially in high school.

high school kids are dumb. stop giving them money.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:39 PM on June 14, 2007


"Sorry guy, I only listen to dude's that drink VitaminWater.

Listen to dude's what?

"...dick"

Oh.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:41 PM on June 14, 2007


This is the greatest argument for the rule of strict Islamic Koranic law that I've ever encountered. ....And I havent encountered many.
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:53 PM on June 14, 2007


yay, IE. that wasn't bad. I thought the Emanuel and Jennie interviews were interesting.

nothing too thought-provoking or anything, just slices of life somewhat similar to mine. again, better than expected.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:56 PM on June 14, 2007


"Sorry guy, I only listen to dude's that drink VitaminWater.

Listen to dude's what?

"...dick"

Oh.


Dictaphone yall
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:08 PM on June 14, 2007


Somehow I've learned to ignore the flashy spender people here in Los Angeles, for the most part.

Except when they're driving. Then I pay close attention to them, because they're pretty bad drivers. Pretty much anybody driving certain types of Benzes and BMWs, you know to steer clear of. You know who the worst ones are though? People who drive Lexuses, especially the SUVs. I haven't been able to figure out why, but it seems like most of the really appalling inattentive drivers are in Lexuses.

I watched this thinking it would be full of rich/status-obsessed kids, so it was nice to see a few with different situations. Pretty stark contrast for Luis, with no electricity and 7 people in a one-bedroom... sheesh.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:18 PM on June 14, 2007


That girl at the end had the money for junior prom. I bet she just didn't have a date.
posted by banished at 5:20 PM on June 14, 2007


What's sort of interesting is how now matter how materialistic clueless the interviewed teenagers people are, they all seem convinced that their spending habits are ok, while the spending habits of their classmates everyone else are the ones that are totally overboard.

fixed that for ya. people in this country in general have some pretty amazing blind spots in their self-awareness.

try asking someone if they're a good driver sometime.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:52 PM on June 14, 2007


the only horrific ones in the video were the first two girls. Even the second guy was torn, he was suggesting he wanted out, he confessed he had poor impulse control, but he's stuck in a situation where if he doesn't conform to their system he gets cast out. But at least he sets some limits and is looking to the magical world of college where it will change if he can stick it out for just a few more years. Not an amazing moral system, but I'm guessing the majority of the people he wants as friends have worse philosophies.
posted by kigpig at 6:31 PM on June 14, 2007


I couldn't make it past the two girls. I have this mental fallout shelter that I haven't needed since the cold war of my high school. I found myself quivering on the floor of that dark and silent haven as the their radioactive words gathered harmlessly overhead.

I managed to crawl out and close the tab on my browser before my ears started bleeding, thanks for your concern.
posted by lazymonster at 7:03 PM on June 14, 2007


From a Psychology Today article about the true capabilities of teenagers:


We have completely isolated young people from adults and created a peer culture. We stick them in school and keep them from working in any meaningful way, and if they do something wrong we put them in a pen with other "children." In most nonindustrialized societies, young people are integrated into adult society as soon as they are capable, and there is no sign of teen turmoil. Many cultures do not even have a term for adolescence. But we not only created this stage of life: We declared it inevitable. In 1904, American psychologist G. Stanley Hall said it was programmed by evolution. He was wrong.

How is adolescent behavior shaped by societal strictures?

One effect is the creation of a new segment of society just waiting to consume, especially if given money to spend. There are now massive industries—music, clothing, makeup—that revolve around this artificial segment of society and keep it going, with teens spending upward of $200 billion a year almost entirely on trivia.
Link
I have to say I agree with this. As a teenager there were lots of things I could do, yet, I was stuck in some bullshit high school program. I saw this in my friends too. There were two responses generally. Hold on and hope eventually you get out and do something more, or kill your soul with consumerist behavior. I think most of my classmates chose the later.
posted by wuwei at 7:19 PM on June 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jeezus.

I really, really, really, really, really miss the early '90s. I don't know how it was in LA, but in my school it was considered cool to wear the oldest, most tore-up baggy secondhand jeans that were covered in safety pins, patches, and statements from your friends scrawled in permanent marker.....


Aren't there any death metal kids to kick these kids' asses and teach them how to be cool?
posted by ELF Radio at 7:28 PM on June 14, 2007


Why, why do you have to be popular, if it means just buying meaningless plastic shit every weekend?

To secure a dominant status and the best quality mate choices?
Not that it excuses it, but that's the underlying force behind all of this "soulless" behavior. Personally it's not my cup of meat, but I don't see how excesses of materialism are fundamentally different from, e.g. making art or filling yourself with arcane knowledge.

And is it using personal appearance to express oneself that people object to, or how much is spent doing so? Short of charity, what do you expect the affluent to do with their money? I'd wager that the average MeFite spends a similar percentage of their income on fashion and technological baubles as the LAers portrayed in the movie. I don't see how this makes us any more noble, just because we can't afford the same amount of symbolism.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 8:31 PM on June 14, 2007


" it's not my cup of meat"

If you dont mind, I shall be appropriating this turn of phrase.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:45 PM on June 14, 2007


Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson,
No one has said anything at all about objecting to personal appearance as a way of expressing oneself, I'm not even sure where you're getting that from. And I don't think it's the amount of money spent, per se, though there is a certain shock value when a 16-year old kid says she spends more than you make in a month on a purse.

I think what is being objected to is the attitudes expressed, the complete vacuousness on display. They seem to have no concept of what they're doing, only that buying things is a good in itself, and buying more things is better, and that this defines the totality of their worldview. Though this video focuses heavily on fashion, it doesn't really matter if it's clothes or tech trinkets that are being consumed; that empty and blind materialism is what's so off-putting.

I've seen a few episodes of that MTV show "Sweet 16" about the sweet 16 parties of very rich girls, and it's a perfect example of this. These girls (and boys on occasion) just cannot seem to imagine a world outside of themselves or material possessions. It's just astounding how self-centered they are.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:01 PM on June 14, 2007


Money Maxims
posted by priyatam at 10:48 PM on June 14, 2007


priyatam
Money Maxims

I think you were looking for this.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:54 PM on June 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah similitude.
posted by priyatam at 11:39 PM on June 14, 2007


infinitewindow,
I'm always glad to meet another Virginia transplant to L.A....

Well, yeah, there's always some set of those people. But I certainly didn't know anyone spending THOUSANDS of dollars on a purse growing up... Are you from Northern Virginina? That sounds more like something you'd see in suburban D.C. In Williamsburg, where I'm from, while there is conspicuous consumption, you certainly don't see the fleets of BMWs, etc. that you see out here.

For me, it's not just that there's conspicuous consumption, it's the 16 year olds getting $80,000 cars that pisses me off.

(And I'd love to see your sci-fi/fantasy 1st eds.... :)
posted by MythMaker at 12:11 AM on June 15, 2007


Kids are kids. Teenage brains aren't even fully formed. They'll spend every cent they get on shiny crap. Giving them unlimited credit is like setting magpies free in the Valley of Shiny Crap.

But the parents of kids like Gabby & Alyssa are bad parents competing with one another through their children. (Baby Dior, etc.)
posted by pracowity at 12:14 AM on June 15, 2007


There is a British documentary that follows a group of children from ages 7 to 49, and they make a new movie every 7 years.

From Ebert:

Tony has a vacation home in Spain now, with a veranda and a swimming pool. He's seen some hard times, but at 49, he is basking in contentment. We see him in the pool, tanned, splashing with his family.

When you live with Michael Apted's "Up" series of documentaries, there tends to be one character who most focuses your attention. For me, in "28 Up" through "42 Up," it was Neil, the troubled loner. As a boy, he wanted to be a tour bus guide, telling people what to look at. As an adult, he still has an impulse to lead and instruct, but it hasn't worked out, and he became a morose loner. In one film there was a shot of him standing next to a lake in Scotland, in front of his shabby mobile home, no one else in sight; I thought, "Neil will be dead by the next film."

It didn't work out that way, and Neil provides the biggest surprise of "42 Up." But Tony's development in some ways may be as fundamental as a transition. What happens to him helps illustrate the importance, even the nobility, of this most extraordinary series of documentaries.

In 1963, Granada Television in Britain commissioned a film about a group of children born in 1956. Drawn mostly from the upper and lower ends of the British class system, they were asked about their plans and dreams. The idea was to revisit them every seven years and see how they were doing. As a plan, this was visionary, even foolhardy, but here we are at "49 Up," and the children of the 1963 film have children and grandchildren of their own. Anyone who has followed he series develops a curious fascination with their lives, because they are lives. This is not reality TV with its contrivances and absurdities, but a meditation on lifetimes....
posted by m2002 at 1:11 AM on June 15, 2007


The Up Series on Metafilter. Neil is now a local councillor in Eden.

When I was 16 you can bet your ass that conspicuous consumption was not cool in my peer group. Such people did exist, but their lives were clearly devoid of the love and acceptance they craved and they were regarded with pitty by the majority. Also, their houses were trashed whenever they had a party to raise their social cache. The house trashers were also a lovelorn bunch, with less money and more violent tendencies.
posted by asok at 5:00 AM on June 15, 2007


The Washington Post recently ran a similar article about teen's shopping habits using NOVA kids. Their results were slightly less depressing.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 9:15 AM on June 15, 2007


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