You Are What You Buy . . .
America’s embrace of this belief is a major cause of the nation’s current economic, social and political predicament. When did we first adopt this way of life? The answer is there was no single moment; the seduction was gradual. Yet if you were to go searching for markers along the path to our present baleful state, one way station might be the event mentioned by Deborah Solomon in her review of two books about Pop artists Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist, in today’s NY Times:
“It is probably relevant that in July 1959, the so-called kitchen debate was held between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon. Staged in Moscow, in a faux suburban house constructed expressly for the occasion, the encounter offered Vice President Nixon the chance to demonstrate the everyday comforts and conveniences of American life, from Pepsi-Cola and Betty Crocker cake mixes to Cadillacs and G.E. dishwashers. The debate was seen around the world and redefined America virtually overnight as a consumerist utopia where the goods you stored in your kitchen cabinets were as much a symbol of cherished values as the bald eagle and the flag.”