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CUNY Brooklyn College Veblens Theory of Conspicuous Consumption Discussion


This week, we continue in a similar fashion (pun intended); we’ll analyze our readings on capitalism and consumption via a form of popular art. For this discussion, our medium is music and more specifically, music videos.

Ariana Grande has reached enormous heights in terms of producing and capitalizing on her musical talent. In recent years, Grande’s public persona has changed drastically compared to the image she put forward in her earlier years; this has resulted in both praise and criticism from fans.

To get started on this week’s prompt, you should first watch the music video for her track, “7 rings. Then, take some time to read two accompanying articles that offer opinions about the song and Grande’s position as a celebrity elite.

  1. The first article is a discussion about how Grande and other celebrities flaunt their buying power and what it feels like for the rest of us.
  2. The second article is a discussion of Grande’s use of cultural appropriation—both in the video and beyond—and how she continues to profit off of cultural forms that precede and exist beyond her.

Once you’ve watched and read the material above, take some time to consider the following questions. Your response should answer each question in a separate paragraph, and in total, you should offer at least 400 words.

  • Is Veblen’s concept of conspicuous consumption present in the video and in Grande’s fashion stylings generally? How? To offer support for your answer, try to identify lyrics from the song (you can find them here) that align with Veblen’s ideas. Make sure you also cite and/or quote Veblen’s work to receive full credit. Feel free to rely on the supplemental articles above as well, if you find them relevant, and cite them accordingly.
  • Thinking about Simmel’s work in “Fashion”, how does Grande attempt to differentiate herself as an artist? What social contexts, musical genres, and aesthetics from cultural communities are apparent in Grande’s “7 rings” performance? Rely on Simmel and the articles linked above to clarify exactly what styles and forms she relies on and where they come from. As a member of the elite upper class and as a white woman, is Grande exploiting the culture of marginalized communities of color in her fashion and her music? Be sure to cite any quotes in your work so you provide credit where it is due.


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