Eulogizing SkyMall Is The Whitest White Person Thing Of All Time
As the dust of male dick mania settled over the blogger horizon yesterday, a zillion restless fingers sat poised at their oil-stained Macbook keyboards, wondering what they would mock today within the halls of Tweetdeck. Luckily, the heavens answered their call, and SkyMall fell right out of the clouds. The airplane catalog that’s been a sitcom punch line for years filed for bankruptcy today, and almost instantly, people took to Twitter to mourn its loss, bemoan the inevitable stale jokes that would accompany it, and write tender tributes to its pages of expensive, meaningless crap. And in the incredibly unscientific survey I have not undertaken, I guarantee you every single one of those people is white.
There is nothing that screams more “American dream!” to me than the fact that, after you’ve spent 20 percent of a month’s pay on a round trip plane ticket (on blackout days, no less), airlines have the gall to put a catalog full of novelty items with absurd price tags in front of you, as a means of entertainment. That takes real nerve. That is some good old landed gentry, indoor voices, “My mom loves Chicos,” went to sleep away camp every summer, “Ancestry.com totally works for me,” white people shit.
Don’t get me wrong, I know everyone ironically loves SkyMall the same way that girls add photos of Converse sneakers under wedding dresses to their aspirational Pinterest boards, but at the end of the day, SkyMall is a very, very white people thing to be into. There are mortgages to pay, children to send to college, vacations to be taken, but what is life if those things don’t come with a $90 remote shaped like a magic wand? If you are the child of non-white or immigrant parents, even if you grew up firmly upper middle class like I did, SkyMall is one of those things you just did not fuck with. And that’s if you even got to flip through it at all, because I know at least half of you feel me on the number of times you tried to pull it out of the seat back pocket just to peruse and your mom smacked your hand with a “Don’t touch it, that’s not ours,” as if frivolity was a disease you could catch by osmosis.
Flipping through a SkyMall catalog isn’t just a hallmark of boredom, born out of no seat-back television and a lack of personal music player; it’s a luxury afforded to people who have the kind of money that lets them think that the production of oodles of useless novelty items are hilarious and quaint. For the rest of us, SkyMall is a quick and horrifying reminder that this is what our parents immigrated to America for: to give us a life that involves calling someone from a seat-back phone because you absolutely must have the hotel-sized fishbowl cube.
I don’t feel bad that SkyMall is being pushed out of business because people are choosing to spend money on wi-fi on planes, and no longer need to flip through the catalogs provided to them free of charge. (Plane wi-fi is another racket that you should not even get me started on, but suffice to say, Virgin America, asking people to pay $29.99 for internet access when your longest haul flight is six hours is SkyMall levels of appalling.) I don’t mourn the loss of an entire line of T-shirts directed at a man named Bob more than I shudder at the thought that a shit ton of Roberts, or their friends and families with too much disposable income, have probably purchased those shirts with joy. I don’t think this crowd-funding campaign to save SkyMall is adorable, any more than I think that the guy who earned all that money selling potato salad on Kickstarter was a real visionary entrepreneur.
SkyMall is essentially useless, because at the end of the day, America is SkyMall — a nation trading in frivolity, simply because we can. I didn’t need a 50-page catalog filled with crap to remind me of that, and I’m not going to be sorry it’s gone.
[Image via Flickr]