Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No Holds Barred: Losers and Winners

By Blair Sabol

Clearly we are in the season of the “losers and winners.” And I don’t just mean politics, although it is obvious that both Hilary and Donald are already the biggest losers to many people. In fact, whoever wins this election could lose in inheriting a divided nation — and ironically the “loser” might end up being the winner.

Since neither candidate is popular, it will be the end of both political parties — and that could be the good news. Many political pundits are predicting that whoever wins might only serve one term. Who could stand a full eight years of anybody lately?

But all that is about politics, and we all know what a “losing game” that has been. Nobody can win for losing being a president, a prime minister, head of state, or czar. As Donald Trump often says, “It’s sad.”

So what is wrong with our culture that so many “losers” are such highly rewarded “winners?” Look at Ryan Lochte — of course, now he is on “Dancing with the Stars.” In fact, DWTS is now a new and improved version of “Love Boat.” Both shows are “Last Chance” career exits for any has-been actor or wife-beating athlete.
Even being a Playboy magazine centerfold used to work for has-been desperados like O.J. gal/pal Faye Resnick. Where is she now? Oh, yes, she’s on “Housewives of Beverly Hills” — another dumping ground for “wash-ups” and “wannabe’s.” Thank God Monica Lewinsky didn’t stoop to conquer. She just ended up designing bad handbags. At least she looks classy in her silence and retreat.
With Anthony Wiener (another “beautiful loser”) there are enough penis pictures in his sexting account to keep him afloat — not to mention his recent documentary. Remember, sex tapes are how Paris Hilton and the Kardashians got started. Or you have photos in 2014 of Michael Phelps inhaling bong hits in Las Vegas (now he has fallen to rise). And dear Prince Harry iPhoned naked in hotel rooms with heads bobbing below his waist. And what is going on with Johnny Depp? He seems to be taking the Marlon Brando route of physical implosion.
"Give it time, kid."
Now those are the recent celebrity losers — we expect nothing less. But you can talk about a whole other level of “losers as winners." Last week the New York Times did an article on online social media called “Z-List Celebrities” which described a new level of “defining celebrity downward .... These quasi-celebrities have crept onto our radar through our supermarket tabloids and Facebook news feeds, and a crop of publications has emerged to cover them, whether sincerely or satirically. The relentless Instagram gossip outpost The Shade Room airs their dirty laundry, the deliciously absurd podcast "Who? Weekly" pokes fun at their claims to fame, and Time Inc.'s shiny new digital celebrity site,, hopes to build on their brands."
In the online world, losers rule. Famous for doing nothing other than being an Instagram cat. People love “following” other people because the “followed” are nothing but “sloppy and sexy” and that is intriguing. “Just the Tip” gives advice on how to build your own fandom. Talk about creating a new addiction — losers following losers.

Obviously our culture has so broken down that nobody of class, style, or competence could possibly survive with the Twitter attention span. It has devalued our collective and frankly, now everything seems like porn. Even entrepreneur Mark Cuban recently stated, “Donald Trump is a master in creating headline porn.” Really?
Meanwhile fashion has followed suit in losers as winners — it’s already lost its power in seasonal shows — nobody cares about viewing a new line unless you are in the business. Since “fast fashion” (H&M and Zara’s, etc.) can rip off any and all style in ASAP speed, and the public is bored with it overnight.

We want our clothes fast and furious so we don’t need fashion shows, magazines, or newspapers to tell us who and what to wear. At best we have “Blonde Salad” (fashion bloggers) to post it in 10-second sound bites or streaming logs, and we are “over and out” in record swipes.

But if you are older than 60, you don’t “shop” anymore anyway. You shop from your closet or depend on consignment. Aging makes you a “loser” in our culture automatically — with some exceptions. Not many.

Recently I was cautioned by a major designer to not venture into stores like Kate Spade or C. Wonder, as it will depress me. Actually, he was more than right, as I am nobody’s “target” audience. But now, even Barney’s turns me off — and sacred J. Crew has taken such a left hand turn it has become unrecognizable to many of its true blue fans. How could that line descend so fast in spite of their brilliant “winning” lead designer Jenna Lyons? Maybe she was too busy appearing on “Girls.” Rumor has it that store CEO Mickey Drexler (also a phenomenal “winner”/loser) is now more interested in restaurants than colorful cashmere sweaters. He always knew what was hot next.
"I'd like to make a reservation for dinner."
Maybe Uniglo still gives me a sense of inspiration — maybe World Market or Costco. I remember when a stroll thought Bloomingdale's or Gerry Stutz’s “Street of Shops” in Bendel’s would get me high for a week. Now it’s Trader Joe’s and my carwash boutique. I’ve accepted it!
My idea of fun!
Actually, Amazon is about to give fashion a run for its loser money. With Jeff Bezos’ new “Air Force Drones” and Prime Now 2-Hour Delivery, he will blitzkrieg department stores. Bezos will force retail stores and boutiques to curate their displays to look and feel like museums, or why bother going at all? It will need to be an experience. He is also going to do his own online streaming fashion channel. Goodbye QVC and HSN! I always knew Jeff Bezos was the God of Consumption. On the other hand, my account will still hold a place in my shopping heart and “click-to-buy” finger.
But what can I expect from a culture that is driven by speed and scandal, and thrives on reality TV values? What has happened to decent reporting, reliability in the media and personal responsibility in Learning? It has all become a screaming TMZ or DMZ facsimile. Everyone is now held to the lowest common denominator in a 24/7 ADD attention span.

No wonder we need our daily dose of Judge Judy to sort it all out (and I wonder how fast her sex tape will become available by Julian Assange).
I guess we are information exhausted. And we haven’t even voted yet. By November 6th will we be drowning in more “rigged” reports to the point we don’t care any more? Will most of us flee to New Zealand or stuff our worthless cash in our mattresses? Time will tell.

In the rise to fall — winner/loser world there is nothing left to do but gaze at the latest photo at the G20 summit in China with Barack Obama staring down at a bemused Vladimir Putin. Sorry, but once again Putin looks The Winner in this one with his straight-on charisma and self assured stance. He may take “loser as winner” to a new record high! And imagine he wasn’t even stripped to his waist and riding a horse bareback.

Win or lose, I feel lost. And maybe that is the safest place to be!
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