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Audi commercials depict the post-Great Financial Crash era of America more clearly than any other fiction. The rich are imprisoned in a mansion. The sting is taken off their confinement by Kenny G. performances (tacky!) and the fact that, even though they’re in prison, poorer people are still working as guards, gardeners and dog-keepers, to give them a high quality of life. So they live in luxury, but! They’re not allowed out—it’s not specified whether this is because it’s dangerous for them out there, where hordes are rampaging around trying to keep their collective bargaining agreements, or because the rich are criminals or madmen. In this advertisement, two prisoners break out: one an old fogey wearing a smoking gown (tacky!), and the other a stylishly dressed, young looking middle-aged man. They make it to the parking lot, where they have to make a decision: Get in the Mercedes? “No,” yells the younger man, “don’t do it! It’s a trap!” The old man replies: “Nonsense—my father owned one.” He gets in the Merc, which drives back into the mansion/prison’s garage. Trapped again! Why? Because he insists on doing what his parents did—manufacturing goods, say, or renting out land—rather than changing with the times. Cut to the young man driving his Audi on the open highway, presumably heading for the headquarters of the hedge-fund he manages. He’s cool. He’s free. He’s loyal to his class. The young man genuinely wanted to save the old man. Just like him, he doesn’t want to re-distribute wealth. His new, revolutionary desire is to spend the wealth, which (he tells himself) he ‘made himself,’ on something a little different. A little new. A little edgy. He’s a hero. The moral of the story? Don’t worry, very rich man! We know you feel put upon, restricted, hemmed in. But there’s a way out, a way things can be as they always were for you (i.e., very good). Buy something very expensive, and then you’ll understand that for the foreseeable future you’ll certainly still be in charge. Heck, you might even be released from jail.

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