Monday, February 10, 2014

You Are Being Mocked

The Starbucks culture has become a punchline, shorthand for hipsters following trends without considering the expense. When you get right down to it, the coffee isn't all that good and it costs a fortune. But still they line up, for the chance to parade along the street with a paper cup emblazoned with a mermaid.

Long lines, so who is the dumb one
Where else but in Los Angeles would people get in line at a shop that has all the earmarks of Starbucks, with a clever little addition to the sign? This isn't your ordinary coffee shop. This one is dumb. Are you dumb, then, for going there? Are you trying to get in on the very latest trend in a city where trends come and go in the blink of an eye?

Little is known about this place that just appeared one day. Is it owned by Starbucks? But why would they call the place "dumb" as if they are trying to insult their clients? That doesn't sound like good corporate policy.

Might it be a piece of art?

Performance art takes many forms, and isn't this whole set-up a perfect gesture of mockery?

Instead of fancy baked goods, it's commercial products served out of the box. There is coffee, of course, but is it the real thing or did someone stop at the nearest supermarket for a five pound bag of the cheapest beans on hand?

Then there is the line out the door, with people waiting to buy something that is maybe new or maybe not and is it actually Starbucks or is someone playing a prank? In the meantime, the people who conceived this parody can sit back and laugh their heads off at the trendinistas making fools of themselves over a beverage.

If Starbucks is not behind it, you can expect a flock of lawyers to descend and drop legal writs in an avalanche meant to bury those who mock the mermaid. If they are actually trying to get some publicity for themselves, in a down economic period when the first advice on how to cut expenses is to stop going to Starbucks every day, the lawyers will hover with menace but never actually do anything.

My bet is on the performance artist getting away with a clever parody because you can't sue an artist for making fun of some corporate behemoth sellling burnt grounds as a tasty brew. The thing won't last because performance art is about the performance and in time the show does not go on. The funding eventually runs out and there's rent to pay at the storefront that is mocking Starbucks fanciers.

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