World of Status / Open Lines

Hosted byIan Punnett

World of Status / Open Lines

About the show

Journalist and author Chuck Thompson joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss the new world of status and why luxury brands are losing their cachet. According to Thompson, apart from economic payoff, social status may be the most important incentive and motivating force for social behavior in Western society. "Our ideas of status... are being convulsed in a way right now that they haven't been since the Industrial Revolution," he suggested, noting the modern concept of status has changed on numerous fronts, including the way we understand the subject academically and how the human brain reacts to it. Society is in the midst of various social movements that have questioned what privilege and, by extension, status means, he explained. We are at the beginning of a status revolution, he added.

"Brands like Gucci, Prada... still indicate some monetary advantage because they are expensive by and large, but they no longer convey this sense of status, or elitism, or excellence," Thompson continued, adding a major reason luxury brands no longer communicate the idea of status is that many high-end family-owned artisan brands have been concentrated into the portfolios of a few corporations. "One of the big conundrums facing these contemporary status marketers is reconciling the fact that while a product's prestige is often based on scarcity and cost, in order to attain the scale necessary to remain globally competitive, a consolidated brand now has to attract a mass following," he reported. The concept of scarcity and mass production are at odds, Thompson noted.

Thompson advised divorcing ourselves from the idea that money equals status, pointing out how individuals, such as the Pope or a high school quarterback, have status apart from wealth. He described countersignaling which involves someone of great means showing off or signaling wealth by not showing off, and suggested that status is changing as our social values change. "Status should no longer be considered a zero sum game," Thompson said, "it's for everyone." He also spoke about Sometimes When We Touch, his documentary about Soft Rock now streaming on Paramount+.

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Open Lines followed in the latter half of the program. Chris in Calgary, Alberta, phoned in to recommend to those who have lost a beloved dog to go to their local pet shelter and adopt a senior dog to give it home for its last few years of life. "It helps with the grieving process, and you're doing a good turn," he said, adding, "if you're grieving an animal think about that and look at the shelters to find an unwanted dog."

Les, a drummer from Tucson, Arizona, told Ian he once received showbiz advice from Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan. "While he was here, he taught me a very valuable lesson... you never have a better act opening for you," Les said. O'Sullivan had related to him the time he had American R&B and funk band Tower of Power open for him. After following their extraordinary set, concertgoers left while O'Sullivan was in the middle of his set, Les explained.

Shawn in Washington state, shared a similar thought by recalling the time he attended a concert at Candlestick Park in 1978 when Steve Miller was headlining and the rock group Heart opened for him. "[Heart] blew the whole stadium away... there was no comparison," Shawn said, noting that the concert was at the end of Miller's touring days.

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