11 January 2007

That's so Bourgeois

Sometimes, when I’m driving or otherwise bored, I design t-shirts and bumper stickers in my head. On one such occasion, I designed this:

. . . and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out if calling something Bourgeois is an insult.

Turns out it is, at least in some circles:
In the rhetoric of some Communist parties, "bourgeois" is sometimes used as an insult, and those who are perceived to collaborate with the bourgeoisie are called its lackeys. Marx himself primarily used the term "bourgeois", with or without sarcasm, as an objective description of a social class and of a lifestyle based on ownership of private capital, not as a pejorative. He admired the industriousness of the bourgeoisie, but criticised it for its moral hypocrisy. This attitude is shown most clearly in the Communist Manifesto.
(Wikipedia: Bourgeoisie)

Because there is a whole Marxist approach to art criticism (read more about it here, and original sources here)bourgeois is a term I've had floating around in my brain for a while. Before looking it up, I knew of lots of artists who had derided the bourgeois, but also knew that the term basically just meant "middle class". I’ve already acknowledged that I've got a bunch of stuff in my head that I know far too little about, and what I know is generally from the wrong angle. My knowledge of Marx is sort of like what I’d expect the average football enthusiast to know about sewing a sports jersey.

Anyway, I’m still wondering about that idea for a shirt. If I wore it, do you think anyone would understand it? Would anyone feel insulted? Would you wear it? Why or why not?


Josh said...

i think it would be funny because it seems to mock the snootiness of the artworld. i would wear it. it could go with my collection ;)

Dad said...

Yes, some people would understand it but some would not interpret it the way you meant. Yes, some people would even be insulted but that would happen no matter what you put on a shirt. They probably will not be insulted enough to do anything other than stare in disgust or mumble under their breath. Without talking to you they would not know if you were serious, sarcastic, what your definition was or if you were just strange. Their problem not yours, go ahead and wear it.

Terra said...

I would wear it over to the Heilperns - they are constantly deciding who has "class" or not. I think it would be funny and since I'm pretty sure they are secure enough in their belief that they have said "class" they wouldn't get the joke.

Mary Ann said...

So do you think the Heilperns believe themselves to be Bourgeois, or to be somewhere above it?

What I love about the shirt idea is that the logo-T itself is so Bourgeois. Plus, I, the wearer, am too. Furthermore, I move in a very Bourgeois circles. Whether projecting the message out or describing myself, the message fits.