5The Dystopian Advertising
Combine rabid capitalism, a booming industry that doesn't just breed, but actually requires superficiality, and the kind of criminal apathy usually only seen in science fiction dystopias, and you get something like the advertising in Los Angeles. I'm not talking about the staggering size, number and complexity of billboards (though that does start to feel a bit like the sunglasses scene in They Live); it's the actual subjects of the advertisements themselves that are so unsettling. I was signed up for Groupon up in Portland, where I moved from, and I would routinely get coupons for shit I could use, like 2-for-1 go-kart racing or discounted midnight admission to the grilled cheese and whiskey buffet. I updated my address when I got down here to L.A., and now my inbox is cluttered with coupons for hyper-acid skin melts and probiotic shark stem cell facials. I actually clicked on them at first, thinking they'd finally added a supervillainy box to the "check your interests" section.
But no: Instead of shady lawyers and the U.S. Army, every bus down here is covered in ads for the hottest new plastic surgery procedure. Major operations have product launches and advertising campaigns, like slicing your own face open is somehow on par with the new Call of Duty game or the return of the McRib. You'll see ads for Lap-Band surgery slapped up right next to Subway billboards, and advertisers don't spend money on this shit because it's not working. That means there's a market for it -- there's an entire demographic of consumers in this town who are willing to buy surgical operations on impulse. There's a guy sitting next to you on the highway, and he's looking at that same billboard for eyelid reversals that you're staring at in abject horror. But while you're thinking, "Truly, these are the end times spoken of in Revelations," all he's thinking is, "Fuck yes, I'll take a Turkey Chipotle Blast foot long and stomach-clamp combo."
Everybody in this town thinks that they're destined to be a star. That's the one true thing everyone already knows about LA: People only live here because they're in the midst of pursuing that beautiful, hopeful, occasionally sad and misguided dream of super-stardom. But hey, if you want to chase that Golden Ticket, strong-jawed extroverts, you go for it: That's nobody's business but yours and the food service industry's, five years from now.
But for every modest, grounded, talented aspiring actor, writer, singer, or director -- just paying their dues until (or if) they hit it big -- there are ten that are so confident in their inevitable uber-fame that they've already adopted the lifestyle. That's not just annoying, it's potentially disastrous: See, A-List celebrities are able to walk around all aloof and pampered like that because they have the money to hire an entourage that takes care of all the shit every human being has to do, but doesn't want to. People like Scarlett Johansson have dudes named T-Bro that pick up after their dogs, or throw things away in trash cans, or wipe down their toilet for them. And that's fine. Nobody's begrudging them that. We can all spend our money on whatever we want.
"... so I just hook up some brake lights on its ass, and this is street legal, right?" -- What I'm saving up for.
It only becomes a problem when you start living that lifestyle and you don't actually have the entourage of mercenary garbage men and professional poop-handlers, because you work at a fucking Jamba Juice. No matter how grand and culturally impactful your inevitable rise to stardom will be, you probably won't ever be able to hire a team of time-traveling yes-men to form your chrono-skipping retroactive entourage. So I'm truly sorry, but until your sex tape hits big, you're just going to have handle Chihuahua shit on occasion; it is science that's failing you here.