Bling Culture is Human Culture

Posted on July 28, 2011 by


There’s a narrative going round that ‘bling culture’ is a child of hip-hop and therefore strictly the demesne of filthy negroes. The truth, as ever, is altogether different. Ostentation in wealth display is the human norm. It is an extraordinarily modern development that subtle displays of wealth are considered more upscale and chic. Being an educated lady, I use modern in the sense of ‘in the last two centuries’, as one might properly do.

It is a beautiful and dusky irony that this notion of subtle wealth-display, where it is known only by the cut or the tailoring, is the product of someone who was not rich or highborn and basically mooched off his rich friends. I present Beau Brummell.

While a part of me truly appreciates the idea that wealth-display is bound to appreciating subtly beautiful craft (and acquiring the knowledge to understand that it is beautiful, and subtle, and also craft), the rest of me is amused that so many denigrate blackfolk (and the whitefolk who emulate them) as upstarts with garish displays. How easily forgotten the displays of numerous perfectly pale kings and queens are when one can snark at duskier folk for not being ‘subtle’, though ‘subtle appreciation of tailoring’ was purely an invention of a commoner on the make.

The standard human norm is to be garish. Jewels dripping, furs pouring down all over, heavy rings on both hands. This is human, and crosses all racial and ethnic borders. Trying to claim it’s a recent, ‘black’ thing and that American whites were ever ‘more refined’ is both a lie historically and a lie currently. M’sieu Brummell fought against the standard human norm and hasn’t really overcome it, overall. Wealthy people may dress discreetly sometimes, but they don’t live in tiny houses or small apartments.

Bling is how all humans roll when they get mad paid, not just black rappers.