Monday, August 25, 2014

Materialistic Miami

So recently I've become intrigued with connection between Miami and materialism.   A recent perusal of my own past blog posts do allude to a certain "shallowness" that epitomizes my hometown. So I decided to do some casual research, talk to friends, ask strangers, internet searches to shed some light on this opinion that people have about us. So here is what I found.

Firstly I asked people if they thought Miami was "materialistic" if they agreed, if yes then why. 

Most of my female friends said Miami was materialistic because the Latina girls look at you weird if you don't wear makeup and look nice. One anglo friend stated "it's like I have to wear shoes and lipstick just to go to work, I want to be judged by my mind" I didn't have the heart to tell her that her mind would be much more appreciated if she tried to make the case it came in look better. On the internet I read a few similar complaints by women as well. The pressure to "look nice" was considered "shallow." and "difficult."  

So here's my take. I just spent a week working in Indianapolis. I work in the medical field selling to nurses. I can say without a doubt the term "sexy nurse" has not reached Indianapolis yet. In offices where I went "business casual" gave up the "business" side of casual in 1987 and died there. I also saw the worst hair I've ever seen. I can say people in Indy were not "shallow" because, at first glance, they really didn't care much about their appearance, or perhaps they did and "disheveled" was the look.  Zoolander's "Derilicte" came to mind. However, if looking your best is "shallow" and looking like an extra from "Rosanne" is "not shallow" I think I prefer shallow.  Of course appearance should be accompanied by a nice purse, shoes and for women, Miami is a forcefully shallow place.

I often forget: looking your best often = shallow = bad person.   Being disheveled and plain = non-shallow = good person. Therefore Miami is full of bad, shallow people. Indianapolis is not shallow, because appearances don't matter as much? Hence it and its environs are full of deep, thoughtful people. 

For men Miami materialism is also linked to appearance and that giant extension of ones penis: your vehicle. Miami has a car culture for sure. According to Forbes magazine 14% of all vehicles purchased in Miami were considered "luxury" vehicles. By comparison, Los Angeles and New York had luxury purchase rates of 12% and 11% respectively. This is compounded by the fact that Miami's median income is about $5,000 less than either city.  So driving a nice car is a priority in Miami.  I have lot of theories for that, firstly a lot of young Latino professionals stay home till they're married, so buying the Beemer for $200 more a month is no big deal if you're not planning to pay rent until you're in your mid 30s.  This trend is not limited to men of course, but once you've driven a luxury car for awhile its hard to go back to a Corolla. (Full disclosure: I have two BMWs) I don't consider myself "shallow" I just love cars. However if my car preferences undo all the good things I've done, so be it.

I could ponder about our "materialism" wondering perhaps that a playground of the rich and famous might have something to do with it, or perhaps the deprivation of luxury vehicles in Latin America (too conspicuous, bad roads, extremely high import duties). Perhaps just a cultural norm to look your best in any occasion, maybe we just want to feel sexy(shallow?) all the time.  I am sure there a lot of factors related to class, culture, ethnic background that make Miamians want to strut like all the feral Peacocks that wander the metropolis. I can see how "looking your best, as much as possible" would intimidate people who feel that first impressions or optimal grooming aren't important.

Looking good might be shallow. Driving a nice car might be materialistic. However in hot climate like Miami's would you really want it any other way? Really, if you want to look ironically plain or unkempt go to Brooklyn or Portland. At least there you can cover it all with a coat and a scarf or something. But don't come here complaining that you "need to look good" to make it here, because yes, that is one of our social norms. You might call it shallow, we call it good grooming.