“Because 62 percent of Americans are overweight, a cheap way to achieve a sort of distinction is to be thin. This is the general aim of the top four classes, although the middle, because of its work tends to be sedentary, has a terrible time abstaining from the potatoes.”
– Paul Fussell, Class
Whenever my home state of Iowa gets mentioned in movies or on TV, it’s usually done so in a mocking manner. Aside from Captain Kirk, I can’t think of a single Hollywood character who’s from Iowa and not an inbred hick. While the stereotype is somewhat true in the less populated areas, it doesn’t apply to most of the state’s residents. Same-sex marriage has been legal here since 2009, most citizens are for the legalization of marijuana, interracial dating is accepted, and the state is overall very liberal.
Despite this, a small number of backwards rednecks have still managed to tarnish everyone’s reputation. As such, Iowans are almost always branded as obnoxious racist homophobes who spend their free time attending klan rallies and fornicating with their cousins.
Because of this stigma, I grew up wanting to make sure that I could “fit in” outside the state. I made a conscious effort to learn how to present myself as a man of culture and taste, not some meth making goon. During my effort to become “classy” I stumbled on one of the greatest books about American social status to ever be published, Paul Fussell’s Class.
The most important lesson I learned from Class was that I wasn’t a backwards hillbilly, in fact I was doing better than the generic and politically correct middle class. It’s not uncommon for me to be described as “eccentric.” I’ll discus why Larry Flynt is my role model over Thanksgiving dinner, I love trolling people in real life, and I’m unphased by most “prestigious” titles and vocations. In contrast, Fussell notes that it’s the middle class, in an attempt to seem gentrified, who spearhead political correctness:
“Drunks are ‘people with alcohol problems,’ the stupid are ‘slow learners’ or ‘underachievers,’ madness is ‘mental illness,’ drug use is ‘drug abuse,’ the crippled are ‘the handicapped’….”
Aside from teaching me that political correctness is to be avoided, Class also provided me with several other valuable lessons. “Designer” brands are a symbol of being lower class (think every single rapper and their fetish for Gucci and Dior), body type plays a big role into determining social standings, and education involves being exposed to controversy:
“Where the more fortunately educated read to be surprised, the middle class reads to have its notions conformed, and deviations from customary verbal formulas disconcert and annoy it.”
In other words, everyone who gets butthurt when they read something they don’t agree with is just another generic tool.
If you’re looking for an enjoyable, and informative, read on the America social hierarchy, I highly recommend buying Class. It saved me the trouble of having conform to the inoffensive and bland mainstream culture.