Monday, March 16, 2009

Atlas Snugged.

I am nowhere close to being original with any sort commentary on the current cultural hoo-ha that is The Snuggie. For those of you without a television, the Snuggie is a fleece blanket with sleeves. So you can stick your arms through them and grasp your remote whilst not having to move your delicate arm out from under the cozy warmth of fibers spun from recycled Mountain Dew bottles (that's what fleece is made of essentially). We did not know this remote situation was a problem until very recently. We now know we can grab the remote while remaining under the backwards bathrobe we call Snuggie because the commercial shows us this very act. And we can now also go to football games dressed like brightly colored extras from the temple scene in Conan the Destroyer. And presumably some sort of fetish community is already clustering around the Snuggie. "Let's Snug" and "I'm a Snugger" tee shirts are coming, I'm sure.

What does the Snuggie mean/signify? Is it just another artifact of current consumer culture, i.e. something we really don't need and is really just a tweaked version of something we already have, or is it something else entirely? I think It's both. As far as I can tell the Snuggie is a cross between a tatty fleece blanket from Ikea and a hospital gown. So someone got the idea for this thing when they were in the hospital for a colonoscopy or some such. That's my guess. Someplace cold. With cold floors as they trudged down to where ever the procedure was to be done. Most likely in a town where there is a lot of tailgating, if the commercials are to be believed. So, Minnesota. Could it be true that a descendant of the Vikings, of the people of Odin, the people of Mjolnir and Valhalla, has given us a blankie-as-symbol of a particular brand of American Depression? A depression both emotional and economic? These things are tied and twisted together now in the national unconscious. I have no proof that a Viking is responsible for the Snuggie.

When you have been laid off you have to keep the heat down to preserve what savings you have. Here comes the Snuggie! For those of you who are as nuts as I am about Science Fiction, I recommend the "Beggars in Spain" trilogy by Nancy Kress; especially the final book. That's an aside. If you read it, I think you will see the connection. Kress follows a line of logic that eventually American society will have to simply support an immense amount of people that are not able to work, simply because the economy can not provide enough employment because there are far too many people. In other words, most of the population lives in indolence, trying to convince themselves that that's cool. Predictably, massive class distinctions emerge almost immediately. It's not as Ayn Rand as it sounds, but it is, a little. The Snuggie will become the symbol of the current cultural landscape - we no longer feel safe, we long to retreat under a blanket spun from our own landfill surplus that shows us that we are both frugal and responsible, after years of taking out loans for a down payment on a house, a practice unheard of until recently.

We're in it for the long haul, people. And we are marching through this shrunken landscape with our Snuggies on, but presumably with our backsides still exposed.

By the way, I totally want one.