Summary of Opulence | ContraPoints

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In "Opulence | ContraPoints," the author discusses the history and meaning of the term "opulence." She explains that it is not just about having a lot of money, but also about owning everything. The author also discusses how the phrase "Opulence, you own everything" is used as an ironic metaphor by conservatives to claim that rap music is the reason for the problems with the black community.

  • 00:00:00 Opulence is a term generally used to describe the aesthetically pleasing display of wealth or power. In this video, the author explains that, while taste may start with aesthetic pleasure, as one gets older, taste often becomes associated with social class and prestige. Success, in particular, is often represented with an ostentatious display of wealth. The video ends with a brief discussion of the cultural significance of "The Great Gatsby."
  • 00:05:00 In "Opulence | ContraPoints," rapper Cardi B discusses the origins of the phrase "Opulence, you own everything." She points out that the phrase is originally from the documentary "Paris Is Burning," about the Harlem ballroom culture in the 1980s. Cardi B explains that opulence is not just about having a lot of money, but it is also about owning everything. She also discusses how the phrase "Opulence, you own everything" is used as an ironic metaphor by conservatives to claim that rap music is the reason for the problems with the black community.
  • 00:10:00 Shon Faye discusses the difference between realness and passivity, discussing how realness has a subtext of defiance. She talks about how Americans are obsessed with luxury, how Vegas exploits that need and how class distinctions are blurred in the modern world.
  • 00:15:00 This video by Paul Fussell discusses the nine classes in America, and how each class behaves differently in terms of their aesthetics. Fussell also discusses the rise of the nouveau riche, who value ostentation and display over traditional old-money values. He argues that this is a victory of money over class, and that old-money values are dying out. The video finishes with a discussion of the enjoyment of art, and how it can be compatible with Marxist economic analysis and the SJW "culture war".
  • 00:20:00 In this video, Miss Thing discusses how taste is related to power and how it can be used to oppress certain groups. She also discusses how taste is often associated with whiteness and classical ideals, and how this can be harmful to marginalized groups.
  • 00:25:00 In this essay, transgender writer and underground house music producer Terre Thaemlitz discusses the connection between opulence and glamor, pointing out that the former is often used as an ideological weapon to baffle and control the lower classes. Sprinkles alludes to an earlier form of glamor, or magic associated with witchcraft, paganism, and deviancy, but notes that in our capitalist society, glamor is now a spell of opulence, conjuring up a fantasy of a lavish life. For example, drag queens practice this sort of illusionism by impersonating celebrities, thereby acquiring the glamor of actresses, pop stars, and models secondhand. Sprinkles is bothered by the way this sort of second-hand glamor acquires its power from unquestioned social hierarchies.
  • 00:30:00 In this video, Marxist art critic John Berger discusses the concept of "opulence," which he defines as a sense of enchantment and admiration that can lead to envy and resentment. Berger warns that the experience of opulence can be isolating and addictive, leading to the calcification of class boundaries and the erosion of social solidarity.
  • 00:35:00 Jeffree Star, a successful YouTuber, is often compared to Gigi Gorgeous, another successful YouTuber. Jeffree Star's fans relateto him positively, while Gigi's fans do not. Differences between the two include that Jeffree Star is self-made and represents himself as starting from the bottom, while Gigi is a regular woman who has never once considered her privileges.
  • 00:40:00 This YouTube video, called "Opulence," discusses the history and meaning of ruined opulence, or the aesthetic of decay and ruin. It suggests that this aesthetic is evolving, from the ruins of a medieval castle to the iconic haunted house. It discusses the role of vampires in this trend, and how they represent a dying world order. Finally, it argues that when the opulence of our age decays, a new Gothic aesthetic of ruined shopping malls may emerge.
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