What hip-hop bling reveals about American status anxiety
The New York Times recently devoted an entire article to the bling of the hip-hop stars — from Lil Mosey and Fabolous to the more recent Run the Jewels. A great deal of attention has been paid to bling as an element of status anxiety — the fear, frustration and envy of others. As these stars have come out of nowhere to dominate pop culture, status anxiety as an issue has come to prominence.
But these stars’ bling seems to reflect an entire trend in American consumer culture. As we watch our country experience the largest consumer growth, one of the biggest selling products in all of American society, bling has become an integral element in the American consumer experience.
The bling of this era can be seen in the increasing frequency of fashion shows and the growing use of fashion bloggers, the most powerful marketing force in the country. As the cultural elite, these stars are more than just fashionistas; they have become icons of status anxiety and consumerism.
Yet, a closer look at bling reveals a more complex set of associations, all tied to a certain type of American consumer culture.
Bling is not just a fashion accessory.
While fashion is a basic human need, consumer culture — as practiced by the hip-hop stars — has become one with the goal of status anxiety. The bling of the hip-hop stars seems to reveal something about the American consumer landscape.
The bling of hip-hop stars is not just a fashion accessory; it offers a way to understand the larger consumer experience. The bling of these stars is a reflection of status anxiety, the dread of being left behind in a consumer society that is becoming more of a competition and less of a community.
As this trend of bling has emerged in the music scene over the past several years, it has also permeated mainstream culture and fashion too.
As popular as fashion blogs and social media were, the power of the fashion shows and the music videos