Rose-Gilded Glasses

…we live in a rose-gilded age.

This article by Rebecca Mead of The New Yorker is a deeply insightful piece of social commentary. She sees in the progression of Apple’s iPhone color schemes a relevant metaphor for the state of cultural affairs. Mead observes, “Rose gold is decadent. It is for people who already have enough gold gold.”

And while our overinflated markets, debts, egos, and numbers of presidential candidates can momentarily enthrall us, we’ll want more next week. In an age of escalating absurdity, is it that surprising when we are awakened only by the avant-garde of the absurd—the rose gold of discourse? When the pure truth—the “golden word”—is bandied about with disregard, is hackneyed and clichéd, it fails to catch our eye. The impure truth—the collection of cheap phrases and vulgar assertions which is tied tighter to volition than cognition—then has its day. Because it’s different. It’s extravagant. It’s provocative.

It’s rosy.

Whether it’s blaming all our problems on the Mexicans or the Muslims, poor people or the rich, a world leader or a world of followers, the rose gold word is effectively valued higher than the golden, and precisely for its impurity. Of course nobody, when asked, would deny the inherent cheapness of rose gold. But if you offered someone either a rose gold iPhone or a “gold gold” iPhone, which do you think they would pick? In much the same way, nobody in their right mind would deny that Donald Trump is a narcissistic (albeit brilliant) troglodyte, but…he’s just so darn entertaining! The gold gold has been seen before, but the rose gold is tacky enough to be novel.

The ironic thing about gold is that it inherently has no function, yet it is the symbolic arbiter of all value. Gold can not feed one’s family or shelter one’s body from the elements, and yet gold is prized beyond the objects it was intended to attain. Perhaps we could learn to value less the shocking truth, and rather be content with the (seemingly) mild reality. Or perhaps we like our gold, and like it best when it’s ruddied by blood drawn with our minds and tongues.


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