Leaving behind the stunning beauty of northern Yunnan Province, I sat back in my China Eastern Airlines seat and pulled out the in-flight magazine. Ad for a luxury product. Flip. Article about luxury products. Flip. Ad for a luxury product. Flip. Article about luxury products. What a bunch of tosh.
A few rows back, a large all-male group of jolly, rustic Chinese tourists were shouting across the plane to one another and ignoring the steward’s pleas for them to sit down and buckle up. I’d observed them in the airport and had already dubbed them, “The Good Time Boys,” for their volume and joviality. While waiting to board the flight they drank tea, spit in the waste bin (one man was particularly productive), ate instant noodles, and bet on card games while sitting on their haunches in a circle.
Those old guys were happy. They were enjoying the hell out of their holiday. They made me smile.
Looking back at the magazine, I halted abruptly at this grotesque bit of luxury marketing drivel:
The text reads:
If you feel that your appearance and clothing cannot make you stand out from the crowd, but you still have the heart that pursues fashion, the best way is to resort to your car. Polished with high technology, all of the following models are spangled with unique features. There is no doubt that they are the “elites” to create 200% rate of second glance.
Reaching for the air sick bag, I turned the page and saw this vehicle:
This truck-car-thing costs US $850,000. It has six wheels. They call it a 6×6. It is ridiculous.
Turning the page again, I found a special segment describing how to pair your luxury car with a luxury handbag. The text informed me that this difficult problem could be solved by simply buying a US $2.3 million Hermès Bugatti Veyron, which comes with an exclusive Hermès handbag.
Now feeling completely woozy at the vulgarity of it all. I glanced back at “The Good Time Boys” to assure myself that I hadn’t stepped into an alternative universe of vapid conspicuous consumption.
Ah, there they were. Still talking loudly. Still spitting. Still wearing matching tour hats. Still ignoring the fasten seatbelt light. And not a Louis Vuitton handbag amongst them.