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Meeple of Walmart
March 15, 2011 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Was People of Walmart ever posted here? Did the thread last?

I've seen the odd reference to us not being allowed ot laugh at it, or similar, and wondered if the mods spiked it if it ever was. (Every time I get sent a link to it the commentary always makes me a wee bit uncomfortable, but we have had snark sites before I'm sure.)
posted by mippy to MetaFilter-Related at 5:22 AM (129 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

This. And this.
posted by londonmark at 5:31 AM on March 15, 2011


It really makes me wonder about the kind of person who walks up behind someone else with a camera thinking 'I can't wait to put this on a website so people can hate them!'
posted by shakespeherian at 5:34 AM on March 15, 2011 [32 favorites]


What a stupid hateful site. Why don't you just go to fatchicksinpartyhats.com? OMG PEOPLE WHO LOOK DIFFRENT THAN ME !!!!1
posted by fuq at 6:02 AM on March 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yeah, but the old man who looks like the guy on the front of the fisherman's friend package, only with breast implants — that was an awesome let your freak flag fly look.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:21 AM on March 15, 2011


Yep, it got posted a couple times per londonmark above. It also got flagged very heavily both times during its two short lives.

It's a weird thing in some ways because I think it's possible to do a sort of Lowbrow Socioanthropology Blog thing that is more interesting than shitty, but it depends a lot on (a) the subject, (b) the apparent intent, (c) the tone of the blog, (d) the tone of the blog readership/commentership, and (e) the external whammy factor of perceived intent all else notwithstanding.

And People Of Walmart seems to pretty clearly come out not smelling great on some of that, so it's not really any surprise to me that people flag the hell out of it; but I get the "here is photo evidence of a slice of the world" thing as a legitimate instinct, mean-spirited or otherwise, so it doesn't surprise me that it's been posted a couple times either.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:50 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least peopleofwalmart does what it says on the tin. Can't say the same of fatchicksinpartyhats, where the hats at??
posted by sebas at 6:50 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


At least peopleofwalmart does what it says on the tin

It does. But it's probably not a good fit for Mefi. You can always just, you know, go to Wal-Mart. I don't need the internet to see a dude with a mullet in a black muscle shirt that says "FUCK YOU" in huge, white block letters walk around the store greeting everybody like he's a life insurance salesman. I can just go to Wal-Mart.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:58 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It does. But it's probably not a good fit for Mefi. You can always just, you know, go to Wal-Mart. I don't need the internet to see a dude with a mullet in a black muscle shirt that says "FUCK YOU" in huge, white block letters walk around the store greeting everybody like he's a life insurance salesman

That actually sounds like someone I'd want to be friends with instead of make fun of.
posted by fuq at 7:17 AM on March 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah, cortex, I'm in the same two minds. If they were better executed and hung at the Whitney they'd be an interesting, Martin Parr-esque take on America....but the captions referring to people as 'it'? Even Vice Dos and Don'ts aren't so nakedly cruel.
posted by mippy at 7:22 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although - I don't know what the 'meaning' of Wal-Mart is to Americans. Is it just a supermarket or does it cater to specific groups of people? There are people in the UK who will judge you based on where you grocery shop - and they are tits - but is it generally 'poorer' than Piggly Wiggly?
posted by mippy at 7:25 AM on March 15, 2011


mippy, almost everyone in some part of the US shops at Wal-Mart occasionally but the subtext of the site (and the people featured) are a particular subset. It's People of Wal-Mart rather than People in Wal-Mart.

The UK equivalent would be pictures of chavvy pregnant teenagers in an Iceland.
posted by atrazine at 7:32 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Personally, I'm not averse to a bit of car-crash voyeurism every now and then. My issue with this site, and sites like it, is the repetitiveness. When you've seen one fat bloke stuffed into his pre-school daughter's halloween costume, you've seen them all. There's no variety.
posted by londonmark at 7:33 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's in principle just a discount supermarket/one-stop-shop store, but there's a tremendous amount of weird cultural baggage tied to the practical demography of who shops there (or more to the point the perceived/received notion of who shops there) that's pretty difficult to unpack in a small number of words. Nobody shops at Walmart for the cultural cachet it brings, certainly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know what the 'meaning' of Wal-Mart is to Americans.

Wal-Mart is a superstore that carries everything from lawnmowers and car parts to baby clothers (some have groceries, but most don't).l Pretty much everything is inexpensive because it's mostly cheaply-made imports. You will rarely find one in a big city where there are other options, but they are common in suburbs and tend to be the social center for some rural areas. I believe Vermont was awarded a special "historic preservation" something-or-other for being the last state without any Wal-Marts, but that's sort of a political football.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:38 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


mippy, WalMart is the equivalent of your Tesco. The humor is the same as found in this news article: "People Of Tesco: Supermarket Bans Pyjamas, Nighties And Bare Feet". It's not about laughing at the store, but about laughing at the people. If you look at all the websites run by Three Ring Blogs, it becomes clearer. The beach-themed one is about laughing at fat, old, etc., people at the beach. The fast-food one is about laughing at fat, poor, etc., people at fast food restaurants. The one about "white trash repairs" is about laughing at poor people. And so on.

Piggly Wiggly stores are not poor. They are found in small, rural communities in the South and Midwest.
posted by Houstonian at 7:42 AM on March 15, 2011


Aww, I posted one of those deleted threads. Kinda disappointed in myself now actually.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:43 AM on March 15, 2011


Piggly Wiggly is actually pretty nice in some areas. Nicer than the Bi-Lo, anyway. And it's found in urban Southern areas too. (Had to step in and defend them cuz I'm a PFC - that's right, a Pig's Favorite Customer)
posted by lesli212 at 7:46 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've shopped at Walmart plenty of times and it's really not some outrageous experience like the internet would have you believe. Occasionally I'll see someone who fits the "unwashed trailer trash" stereotype or the "morbidly obese motorized scooterer" stereotype, but that's the exception, not the rule. At least in the places I've lived. Of course these people attract attention to themselves, and eventually cameras, and then they end up on People of Walmart. Then people who are unfamiliar with the matter find the site and end up forming a very strange mental image of the store's clientele.

In my experience, Walmart shoppers tend to be middle- and lower-middle class families with lots of kids, college students, or (in some places) migrant workers. There's a "redneck" contingent in southern areas but that's more a factor of the region than the store itself. It's not a classy place but you could do a lot worse... there are some local, non-chain grocery stores in my town that I avoid like the plague because the people who shop there are legitimately skeezy. Walmart is, comparatively, a more pleasant experience. I shop at Trader Joe's, personally.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:49 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm not sure it is the same as our Tesco, though - Tesco is popular with a wide range of people - the poorer folk shop in Iceland or Lidl, the upper middle-class in Waitrose. The main criticism of Tesco here is that it's, basically, a massive corporation and something like £1 in every £7 spent in stores in the UK is spent there. The pyjama thing is a red herring - it's become a trend in some areas to wear pyjamas outside, and Tesco were one place that banned it.

Asda here is owned by Wal-mart - it's seen as slightly more downmarket than Tesco but, again, it's just a supermarket and people tend to shop where's closest (though you could go to poorer areas and take pics like this if you wanted to, perhaps.) That's how I'm trying to work out why Wal-mart shoppers in particular are being singled out.

Sorry, I couldn't think of other chains in the States! I guess there is Trader Joe's, which is owned by the people known as Lidl here and is not even in the slightest bit hipster at all (nice meat and chocolate, but their houmous is rubbish and you coul;dn't get a full shop there).
posted by mippy at 7:56 AM on March 15, 2011


but, again, it's just a supermarket and people tend to shop where's closest (though you could go to poorer areas and take pics like this if you wanted to, perhaps.) That's how I'm trying to work out why Wal-mart shoppers in particular are being singled out.

Well but that really is what Wal-mart is in the States, too. It's just been lampooned and groupthinked into this fantasy wonderland where you can go to see thousands of people with their sweat-stained Big Dog teeshirts tucked into their size-68 underwear, where their mullets are braided into their backhair and Larry the Cable Guy is an ancient and unholy god. It isn't really that way, but that's somehow the cultural perception.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:00 AM on March 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Not having (very much) crap like that is what makes this site tolerable to me.
I can't stand the internet's obsession with pointing and laughing. It's like schoolyard bullying dragged to critical mass by adults. Fuck that noise.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:02 AM on March 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


girls in yoga pants
You take a girl, you squeeze her into some tight pants, and voila - Girls in Yoga Pants. Come see what their momma's gave them.

Hottest Girls on Campus
Hottest Girls on Campus feel we are doing a public service. After all, girls are important and Hot Girls are even better.
posted by mippy at 8:02 AM on March 15, 2011


I hate that People of Walmart site because it polarized my vision. I might find myself at a Walmart at most once every 3-4 months, but every time I can't help but see several people framed with a mean caption. Must deprogram.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:09 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


We must actively fight it. Everybody go on down to your nearest Walmart, and take photos of EVERYBODY else. No exceptions. The people you think look nice, the people who look not as nice, the people who look mean, the people who look poor. Then write an honest NICE caption about each one of them, or even better, go interview them and let them tell their story, and then post on Real People of Walmart, and post to Metafilter.
posted by kingbenny at 8:15 AM on March 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


and then post on Real People of Walmart, and post to Metafilter.

Self-link, banned.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Takes kingbenny's idea, posts to projects, gets blog, book deal, TV show, movie, fin.
posted by fixedgear at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2011


Actually that would be a really good post for MeFi Projects.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:31 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, I like the site because it gives good insight into underground culture - the huge-fake-tail goth/furry fashion was especially interesting to me. Such a weird and surreal cultural trend - I find more wonder than lulz on that site, and it's a shame that it was set up, essentially, to mock poor people rather than document the far-flung corners of American life.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:33 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


At my Wal-Mart, if the gentleman isn't wearing a jacket, he is welcome to borrow one of the house sportcoats.
posted by mullacc at 8:40 AM on March 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I can't stand the internet's obsession with pointing and laughing. It's like schoolyard bullying dragged to critical mass by adults. Fuck that noise.

Every once in a while, somebody sends me a link to regretsy. I always think about the little old lady who made that ceramic cat, was proud of it, and got her granddaughter to put it up on etsy; and who's now being laughed at by a bunch of fucking hipsters with nothing better to do while they're waiting for Pitchfork to slag the latest Band That Sucks.

I once read a short story (which I can't find anymore, but I think it was by Ring Lardner) about a guy who writes dreadful poetry, and whose coworkers trick him into thinking he's going to be published in a big east-coast magazine. That's how regretsy makes me feel.
posted by steambadger at 8:44 AM on March 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


I like Regretsy because it's always making fun of the craft, not the person, and not their skills. A lot of it is about the brass neck of people passing off mass-produced/garage sale junk/Chinese reseller stuff off as handmade/steampunk/etc. For example, there's an octopus charm that turns up everywhere, sometimes with things glued onto it, which cost £3 and is being resold for £35. The commenters - many of whom have Etsy shops - remark upon how they spend hours on their goods and yet people with a hot glue gun think they can make easy money. It's not crafting for the fun of it or the skill but profiteering.

There used to be an LJ community back in the day called GetOffMyspace. I unsubscribed after it became 'let's laugh at poor/fat people', and the make-up one which constantly made fun of teenagers in bad make-up as though teenagers ever wear it any other way.
posted by mippy at 8:58 AM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, mippy. I don't regularly look at regretsy, so I probably should judge it's culture. It just seems like whenever somebody sends me a link, it's always a ceramic cat or a painting of big-eyed children.
posted by steambadger at 9:11 AM on March 15, 2011


The reminder that this exists makes me want to start something like "People of Whole Foods" depicting the douchebaggery of that socioeconomic group, except I can't be arsed to visit a Whole Foods. The best I can do is link to Catalog Living.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:32 AM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like the Real People of Walmart idea.

-decently dressed upper-middle class person who shops at Walmart sometimes
posted by naju at 9:36 AM on March 15, 2011


> something like "People of Whole Foods" depicting the douchebaggery of that socioeconomic group

I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods, but here the Whole Foods shoppers are hardly homogeneous, so it's kind of silly to make bald generalizations like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:38 AM on March 15, 2011


bald generalizations

Hair are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are so uptight.
posted by Decani at 9:41 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


psssst Burhanistan I think that's the joke
posted by KathrynT at 9:43 AM on March 15, 2011


Ah! Joke is on me, and I'm not even bald!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:44 AM on March 15, 2011


If a Tesco's took up an entire city block and had toys, garden tools, and 96-count boxes of toilet roll, it might be more like a Wal-Mart. It's all about the size. Even a big Tesco is just a grocery store with some clothes and CDs, essentially.

There's the element of buying in bulk, or buying absolutely everything you might need, that we don't really get in the UK unless you go to Makro (which is more like Costco) or other cash-and-carry places. (And you don't need a membership to go to Wal-Mart.)
posted by vickyverky at 9:47 AM on March 15, 2011


Sorry Burhanistan: I just don't like the way "People of Walmart" uses Walmart as a stand-in for class prejudices. Where I live, Whole Foods tends to be located in rich neighborhoods and to attract people who make a lot of money. But I don't think anyone would think to target it in the same way. That said, we'll soon be getting several Walmarts in DC, primarily in fresh food deserts inhabited by African-Americans, and I think the prejudices at work here would be more obvious if "People of Walmart" decided to target my neighbors for this kind of fun-making.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:52 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have a Whole Foods in Kensington. When it opened, some newspaper (can't find the article online) took an 'average housewife' to see what she thought. Unsurprisingly, people not used to expensive London wankery found the idea of paying 33p for a cucumber slice somewhat ridiculous.

Before that, the middle-class grocery snark leitmotif was Planet Organic. Wonder if Whole Foods put them out of business?
posted by mippy at 10:00 AM on March 15, 2011


Every time I go to Regretsy it's crocheted vagina beer cozys. We can still make fun of that right? I don't care whose grandma made it.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:08 AM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just wait until I start "People of Brooklyn Costco Jostling for Free Samples."
posted by staggernation at 10:12 AM on March 15, 2011


I'm starting a blog about cheapskate, bulk-buying LIDL pond scum. It's okay though, because I am one.
posted by Decani at 10:15 AM on March 15, 2011


A "People of Whole Foods" set in their flagship store here in downtown Austin would be awesome. If you ever wondered what the whole "Keep Austin Weird" thing was about, that's a good place to go find out.

(Also, I sort of have a weakness for hippie chicks with dreads.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:11 AM on March 15, 2011


The tragic irony of the Wal-Mart near me is that it is the most reliably multicultural place around. I'm in the largely-white 'burbs of a town still visibly divided along lines of race, class, and culture. But the last time I was in Wal-Mart I was chatting with a woman in a hijab about the price of lemons while nearby an African-American guy and his Hispanic girlfriend were moving their cart out of the way of an elderly white woman on a scooter who wanted to check the lettuces for freshness.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:24 AM on March 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


This thread reminds me of that art piece that was linked either here or on boingboing, with the photographer shooting like sixteen people of similar socioeconomic backgrounds and clothes. So you'd get sixteen pretty-much identical young Dutch gay men, or sixteen young Parisian women, or sixteen Algerian immigrants from bad banlieues. Anyone have a link to that?
posted by infinitewindow at 11:40 AM on March 15, 2011


I like Regretsy because it's always making fun of the craft, not the person, and not their skills.

The person is coming up with the idea for the craft and executing it, using their skill set. I'm not sure how it's possible to separate these out.
posted by sageleaf at 11:41 AM on March 15, 2011


> you ever wondered what the whole "Keep Austin Weird" thing was about, that's a good place to go find out.

True Austin weirdos would never go to that 6th street corporate monstrosity (though I do like that store!), they would go to the nearest cheap chain and buy whatever is on sale. The dreadlocked hippie chicks and Prius bumper-stickered "Keep Austin Weird" people are third order pseudo-weirdos that are in fact very much conformist.

Still, I love the hot udon soup there.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has this post just become a substitute for the (at least) twice deleted FPP?
posted by mollymayhem at 11:48 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, because this is MetaTalk where we can be much more rude to one another.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:49 AM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]



My personal favorite* "People of Whole Foods" character is the just-shy of middle age Tantric Randy in a vanilla scented linen ensemble trying to pick up undergrad girls in the wine department by casually reciting a line or two of Neruda while offering unsolicited advice on a bottle of Chilean red.

It's hard to capture that in a photograph.

*I shop at Whole Foods. I'm the character that hangs out in the cheese section asking dumb questions like: "Yes, but could you recommend a cheaper cheese that tastes that luxurious?"
posted by thivaia at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


No, because this is MetaTalk where we can be much more rude to one another.

OMFG STFU NOOB!
posted by fuq at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2011


Every time I go to Regretsy it's crocheted vagina beer cozys. We can still make fun of that right?

I would certainly hope so.
posted by steambadger at 12:04 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Burhanistan, I generally go at 9pm on a Saturday, when it's a cross-section of people about to migrate east to the nightlife to drink/dance/panhandle/whatever. But yeah, the rest of the time you're not wrong. (The girls are still cute, though!)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:05 PM on March 15, 2011


lesli212: "Piggly Wiggly is actually pretty nice in some areas. Nicer than the Bi-Lo, anyway."

Piggly Wiggly was also the first-ever self-service grocery store.

/TMYK
posted by workerant at 12:08 PM on March 15, 2011


> we'll soon be getting several Walmarts in DC, primarily in fresh food deserts inhabited by African-Americans, and I think the prejudices at work here would be more obvious if "People of Walmart" decided to target my neighbors for this kind of fun-making

That site already exists.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:26 PM on March 15, 2011


I had never heard of these sites before but on review, they strike me as incredibly mean spirited. I can probably afford Whole Foods but would rather not overpay for a damn can of soup. So I buy the soup at Walmart and save my money for produce and meat, where the quality matters a little more to me. And for those---no offense to Whole Foods, I go to my local butcher and the farmer's market, because I'm more concerned with getting the best stuff than advertising the number on my W2 by shopping someplace expensive just for the hell of it. People who shop at Walmart do so for a lot of reasons, some of which may be because that's what they can afford. And the people who are laughing about their mullets may not realize it, but their hipster, yuppier than thou attitude is pretty freakin' hilarious to everyone too.
posted by supercapitalist at 12:32 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the people who are laughing about their mullets may not realize it, but their hipster, yuppier than thou attitude is pretty freakin' hilarious to everyone too.

Speaking as somebody that recently moved from an urban center to a very, very rural place, this becomes so painfully obvious.

The perspective is great.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:42 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


the huge-fake-tail goth/furry fashion was especially interesting to me

I need a link in order to determine whether that might be especially interesting to me as well.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:10 PM on March 15, 2011


The tragic irony of the Wal-Mart near me is that it is the most reliably multicultural place around.

This is true for me too. I live in the middle of Kansas in a tiny homogenous town. There's a Walmart 20 miles away in a larger, more culturally diverse town (although finding real cultural diversity in Kansas is relative). Going to Walmart always makes me feel less isolated, as corny as that sounds.

I just don't like the way "People of Walmart" uses Walmart as a stand-in for class prejudices.

Exactly.

I know why people don't like Walmart, and I understand that the concept of a big box retailer taking over the world is a net loss for communities, but the associated prejudices against people who shop there are unfair, and the assumption that those of us who shop there are too stupid or too lazy to know any better is an added insult. I support my local businesses as much as possible, but going to Walmart is sometimes a necessary choice for those of us on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

When my kids were little, I bought clothes and shoes for them at local family-run stores, but you can only buy so many $50 pairs of shoes and $25 jeans for kids who are going to grow out of them in a few months. It was more fiscally responsible for me to buy the majority of their clothing for half the price at Walmart.

When you (or your child) need a medication that's not covered by your insurance, and it costs $100 at your local pharmacy but Walmart has it for $10, you're going to go to Walmart. That kind of budgetary calculation applies to almost everything we purchase. Thankfully my locally-owned grocery store is affordable and well-stocked, so I don't have the same ethical dilemma with groceries as I do with other consumer goods.

I am a "Person of Walmart" and I'm tired of the implication that I should feel ashamed or guilty for shopping there. I wish there was a magic solution for keeping local businesses afloat while maintaining affordability, especially for those of us whose sense of hometown civic duty often collides with personal financial reality.
posted by amyms at 1:13 PM on March 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


In Vegas, Walmart at 4am is a great place for sightings of strippers picking up groceries and cleaning supplies on their way home after work.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:16 PM on March 15, 2011


If they were better executed and hung at the Whitney they'd be an interesting, Martin Parr-esque take on America

I think that this takes the same idea and makes it even more vile by ramping up the elitism.

I remember my first-year university photography class critiques, several students had gone "downtown" to take pictures of homeless people because it made some kind of statement. But they could never seem to articulate what the statement was beyond, "yeah, poverty is bad." Makes for easy pictures though. That professor had a moratorium on pictures of kids or animals.
posted by chococat at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My goal in life is to find an outfit that would qualify for People of WalMart, Hipster Runoff, and The Sartorialist.
posted by schmod at 1:48 PM on March 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Finally a place to confess that People of Wal Mart is a guilty pleasure. But I only check it out once every 6 months or so. I hope that mitigates what a horrible person I am.
posted by The Deej at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2011


thivaia: "I'm the character that hangs out in the cheese section asking dumb questions like: "Yes, but could you recommend a cheaper cheese that tastes that luxurious?""

Try mizithra cheese. It's a hard, salty goat's milk cheese that is unbelievable.
posted by Night_owl at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I don't buy the the whole People of Walmart is class warfare argument. Just because you are poor doesn't mean you have to dress like an extra from Idiocracy, and as so many people have pointed out, you don't have to be poor to shop at Wal-Mart.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mippy I think your confusion might be because the Walmart thing is a class thing. But we Americans refuse to accept that we have a class system, so you see people going through all kinds of weird verbal gymnastics to explain either why it IS funny, or why it ISN'T.

Walmart is a downmarket brand. The People of Walmart site features pictures of [ugly | fat | weird | gross] people shopping there. Everything beyond that is cultural baggage - and lots of it.
posted by ErikaB at 3:34 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I don't buy the the whole People of Walmart is class warfare argument.

There's class warfare and there's class warfare. I don't think the people who run that blog are old money tycoons who rolled up their sleeves to try and keep the common man down one bloodied fist of sarcasm at a time or whatever, so, it's maybe not class warfare in any stark high-stakes dramatic sense.

That said, it's impossible to separate what's going on with unflattering pictures posted to a blog about Walmart people from the cultural load of class intersectionality and the popular perceptions of social stratification along a number of different vectors. You either do a blog like People of Walmart because it never occurred to you that there's some ugly implications that go with it, or because you understand those implications but either don't care or actively get a kick out of being That Guy.

So if we don't want to invoke the idea of class warriors, maybe we go with something a couple rungs down and talk about classholes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:46 PM on March 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


Ever notice those stupid hats that polo players wear? Those are some seriously asinine-looking hats.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:51 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the Real People of Walmart idea.

-decently dressed upper-middle class person who shops at Walmart sometimes


Ditto. I would love to see that, maybe with a little interview with the person pictured. What bothers me about PoW especially is that it's clear a lot of people are taking these photos on their cell phones, behind someone's back. It's so dehumanizing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:52 PM on March 15, 2011


I'm sad to see Regretsy discussed in here along with People of WalMart. They're totally different things. More often than not, Regretsy is a celebration of the totally weird, crazy, and obscure. People of WalMart, on the other hand, is only funny if you think the people pictured are despicable.
posted by meese at 4:20 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


girls in yoga pants

In a network of sites devoted to laughing at people who look different/are poor/etc., this one stands out rather - is this some sort of comedy reference thing in the US or just the personal fetish of whoever runs the blog network?
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 4:38 PM on March 15, 2011


My goal in life is to find an outfit that would qualify for People of WalMart, Hipster Runoff, and The Sartorialist.

I'm pretty sure if you wore a single sartorialist-approved outfit on Madison Avenue in one shot, then laying in Dolores Park drinking a 40 in the second shot, and then looking at the Wal-Mart tampon aisle in the 3rd shot, you would be eligible for all three.
posted by rkent at 4:39 PM on March 15, 2011


I've got to give a big thank you to mippy for the good review of regretsy. Biggest laughs I've had on the interwebs in days. It's my favorite new funny blog. For the most part it was calling out fake crafters and laughing with the creators of various vagina, dildo, and inappropriate pop culture "horrors" - which are then sold, thanks to all the extra attention! (There was just one recent post that was a "point and laugh at this loser and her lack of craft skills", but that seemed an aberration; maybe it's changed over the years?)
posted by lesli212 at 5:27 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't help but dislike People of Wal-Mart. I remember living in a part of the country where Wal-Mart (a super Wal-Mart, they always said) came in and finally gave people a decent place to shop and the kids a better place to hang out than the front steps of the police station (not kidding about that, though in fairness that was the biggest set of steps in town, and centrally located, too.) You don't know nasty places to shop till you've been to the (now demolished) K-Mart across the street, where the aisles were so narrow you could barely fit a cart down them, and the floors hadn't been washed since the building was built. Depending on where you are in my current town, the saddest place to be is either Wal-Mart, Kroger, or Meijer.

Meanwhile, the site is deliberately and gleefully dehumanizing to its subjects, and doing no favors for submitters and viewers either. Shameful and pointless.

My little sister was really into wearing a fake tail for a while. Also nineteen-twenties style goggles. And not just at conventions. Her tail-wearing buddies were all teenage artists who didn't have the kind of money needed to shop at Wal-Mart.
posted by SMPA at 5:39 PM on March 15, 2011


Asda here is owned by Wal-mart - it's seen as slightly more downmarket than Tesco but, again, it's just a supermarket

A UK version would presumably be 'People of Netto'. I know that children in working class neighbourhoods iinsult each other by insisting that their family do their grocery shopping at Netto. I think the stigma is derived from the fact that most of the products are very inexpensive 'own brand' goods.

Curiously, the same stigma doesn't appear to be attached to Lidl or Aldi -- perhaps because their weekly 'special offers' (and budget priced wines) makes them relatively popular with the petit-bourgoisie?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2011


Sixteen pretty-much identical young Dutch gay men, or sixteen young Parisian women, or sixteen Algerian immigrants from bad banlieues. Anyone have a link to that?

Exactitudes.
posted by box at 6:45 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is true for me too. I live in the middle of Kansas in a tiny homogenous town. There's a Walmart 20 miles away in a larger, more culturally diverse town (although finding real cultural diversity in Kansas is relative). Going to Walmart always makes me feel less isolated, as corny as that sounds.


Now now, there are most certainly parts of Kansas that are extremely diverse. Southwest Kansas is a sociologist's dream/nightmare.
posted by ozomatli at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2011


I'm sad to see Regretsy discussed in here along with People of WalMart.

That's my fault. Apparently, I have a limited experience of Regretsy.
posted by steambadger at 8:59 PM on March 15, 2011


Really? I always found Tesco to be decidedly average (and even occasionally expensive, except for the universally horrible "Tesco Value" products, which were really synonymous with "bottom of the barrel and bare-minimum-required-by-law-to-be-labeled-as-food"). Even as an American living in the UK in 2007 (when the exchange rate was more or less the worst it's ever been), Tesco Value products seemed suspiciously cheap. On the other hand, everything else that they sold seemed pretty darn normal. The other chains were generally "better," although again, there was nothing particularly wrong or low-brow about Tesco. And, yes. I'm glossing over centuries of complicated and convoluted British class politics here. Bear with me, because frankly those problems seem quaint and insignificant compared to the American Clusterfuck.

On the other hand, Aldi and Lidl were a mixed bag (and I think that Aldi was held in slightly higher regard), and considered more "frugal" than "poor." Lidl definitely had a worse reputation, but still not quite on par with Wal-Mart, or Washington's plan to kill the poor (why, yes. we do have a supermarket that sells 37 varieties of frozen fried chicken, and nothing else). If anything, it's a bit of a source of pride to assemble a cheap meal out of Aldi/Lidl ingredients, similar to the status that Trader Joe's enjoys in the US. Un-coincidentally, Aldi and TJ's are owned by the same two people.
posted by schmod at 10:00 PM on March 15, 2011


Aldi's and TJ's are not owned by the same folks. Or, rather, it's owned by one of the brothers that also owns Aldi's. I'll defer to the wiki:

Trader Joe's was founded by Joe Coulombe and is owned, since 1979, by a family trust set up by the late German businessman Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind the German discount supermarket chain Aldi.[5]

They reportedly have a cozy relationship, but the businesses are separate.
posted by GilloD at 10:34 PM on March 15, 2011


A UK version would presumably be 'People of Netto'

I think Netto's British stores were recently bought out by Asda/wal-mart, too.
posted by dng at 2:43 AM on March 16, 2011


I've worked (and do work) at some very non-Wal-Mart retail places and if I were so inclined, I could take photos of people who look equally ridiculous but in a different way. But what's the point?
posted by jonmc at 4:55 AM on March 16, 2011


Regarding Tesco Value: it's interesting that brand names have a placebo effect:
Study participants facing a glaring light were asked to read printed words as accurately and as quickly as they could, receiving compensation proportional to their performance. Those wearing sunglasses tagged Ray-Ban made fewer errors, yet read more quickly, than those wearing the identical pair of sunglasses when tagged Mango (a less prestigious brand). Similarly, ear-muffs blocked noise more effectively, and chamomile tea improved mental focus more, when otherwise identical target products carried more reputable names.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:39 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whoa! That's a great study, thanks Theo!
posted by Night_owl at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2011


A "People of Whole Foods" set in their flagship store here in downtown Austin would be awesome.

It amazes me the amount of money just dripping off some of the customers in there. It seems like the average silver and turquoise load must be over a lb. per person. People of Whole Foods would be an anti-People of Wal-Mart thing in that the tasteless rich would be the easiest target.

(Also, I sort of have a weakness for hippie chicks with dreads.)

You do know about Wheatsville, right? Highly recommended for the cute hippies, and the produce is pretty good, too.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:30 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

A UK version would presumably be 'People of Netto'.
People of Poundland, perhaps? Personally, though, I think you can always find a better class of true freak in John Lewis or Waitrose. Like the middle-aged woman who pushes in front of you to buy her organic Pinot Gris, free-range pork, vegan challah, and Madagascan king prawns while simultaneously occupying all three express checkout sales points and ordering her daughter around via iPhone, then, at the end of her 35-minute transaction, produces a £5-winning lottery ticket that she of course presents to most inexperienced member of staff, precipitating a lengthy team meeting/massed training session in working the lottery machine and proper invoicing, after which she somehow pushes in front of you again on the way out because she's in such a fucking hurry.

It's a bit hard to capture all that in one picture and a caption, though.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:32 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


crocheted vagina beer cozys

These four words don't really go together, do they?
posted by Grangousier at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2011


I couldn't find it, but I didn't make it up. This is close enough.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:15 AM on March 16, 2011


Were people of Walmart, that is. Dumb-ass (it is a long-standing editorial tradition to hyphenate dumb-ass).
posted by Mister_A at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2011


that was an awesome let your freak flag fly look.

I hate the contempt that PeopleofWalmart has for their subjects but I am so glad to have proof that there are so many people who couldn't give two shits what the mainstream media thinks is acceptable to wear.

And I think a PeopleofWholeFoods would be awesome (as would a PeopleofBerkeleyBowl for us Berkeley locals). The problem with pics of the rich and/or entitled is that so many of them are happy to sue at the drop of a hat.

I would also love a website that had all the comments and suggestions that people post in on Whole Foods' billboards. Those are comedy gold.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Whole Foods in Austin seemed just like any other Whole Foods to me. And they hire cute hipster girls everywhere.
posted by defenestration at 11:44 AM on March 16, 2011


The only thing that draws me into that ugly Walmart blog is my fascination with the crazy outfits that people wear. I dig it.

And a lot these people are "real Americans." They're pushing more fashion boundaries than New Yorkers!
posted by defenestration at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Avid followers of "People of Walmart" are the same people who receive two-sentence obituaries when they die because no one can think of anything interesting to say about them.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:18 PM on March 16, 2011


TAKE THAT PEOPLE WHO OVERGENERALIZE!
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:20 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would just like to say that I used to have an ironic mullet.

And then I realised that the mullet is irony proof. Terribly embarrassing day, that was.
posted by Decani at 4:15 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


See I don't get all this ironic mullet and ironic PBR and ironic ugly clothing stuff. Just admit that you have bad taste, folks.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:44 PM on March 16, 2011


And they hire cute hipster girls everywhere.

(The girls are still cute, though!)

Yeah, could we not do this?
posted by Hop123 at 5:32 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll never forget this site deleting the thread on Stuff White People Like because it was 'racist'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:27 PM on March 16, 2011


I'm pretty sure we deleted it because we thought it was 'stupid', actually. As one of the people who got a certain amount of grief over doing the deleting, in part about how I was clearly just doing so because I couldn't deal with all the incisive white-people-targeting humor or something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:44 PM on March 16, 2011


I'll never forget this site deleting the thread on Stuff White People Like because it was 'racist'.

You're right: You won't.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:46 PM on March 16, 2011


See I don't get all this ironic mullet and ironic PBR and ironic ugly clothing stuff. Just admit that you have bad taste, folks.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:44 AM on March 1


No, you clearly don't get it. :-)
posted by Decani at 7:06 PM on March 16, 2011


And they hire cute hipster girls everywhere.

(The girls are still cute, though!)


Yeah, could we not do this?

What, stating the obvious? I've been to many Whole Foods and I've witnessed many young woman I thought were cute working there. I didn't ogle them. I didn't say "hey baby, why don't you smile." I treated them like I would any other employee.

Discussing a trend you notice that has to do with what you're attracted to, at least superficially, in another person, shouldn't be verboten. You're simplifying things if you think I'm objectifying a woman just because I think she's cute. And in this case, I was talking about no actual person in particular. You're assuming I approach such things without nuance.
posted by defenestration at 7:15 PM on March 16, 2011


"stating the obvious" was a poor choice of words. I more meant "stating something I've noticed."
posted by defenestration at 7:25 PM on March 16, 2011


Among my associates in NYC Whole Foods is known as 'Whole Paycheck.'
posted by jonmc at 7:28 PM on March 16, 2011


In Vegas, Walmart at 4am is a great place for sightings of strippers picking up groceries and cleaning supplies on their way home after work.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:16 PM on March 15 [+] [!]


Jacqueline, you pervert!!! Which one, btw?
posted by hal_c_on at 8:13 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those meetup pics are always good for a freakdom.
posted by buzzman at 9:16 PM on March 16, 2011


I'm pretty sure we deleted it because we thought it was 'stupid', actually. As one of the people who got a certain amount of grief over doing the deleting, in part about how I was clearly just doing so because I couldn't deal with all the incisive white-people-targeting humor or something.

Just seems bizarre that something so influential was instantly blasted here.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:00 PM on March 16, 2011


Nobody shops at Walmart for the cultural cachet it brings, certainly.

Very true and knowing this can be very helpful at times. Last Friday I wanted to get the new iPAD 2, but didn't want to wait hours before the release time at Apple Store. Showed up at Walmart at 4:45 and left with new device at 5:05 PM - actually could have been there at 5 and still gotten one.
posted by zeikka at 4:41 AM on March 17, 2011


Just seems bizarre that something so influential was instantly blasted here.

May have hit too close to home for some.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just seems bizarre that something so influential was instantly blasted here.

Well, and? If we'd deleted a post about a leaked pilot of Jersey Shore, you could say the exact same thing. Though in fairness to SWPL I think it's a lot more likable than Jersey Shore.

I've noted previously that if I had a time machine I'd have just let the damn thing stand so as to avoid the weird recurring "lol u deleted an eventually very popular meme" stuff, but deleting threads that have gotten a bunch of flags and that seems kind of meh to us is a part of the job description and is, taken out of the specific context of any given post, part of what makes this place not a firehose of shit. It's not a perfect system, certainly; more to the point, it's not a system designed primarily to predict the future popularity of a given meme.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:12 AM on March 17, 2011


Deleting SWPL was the right thing then, and it would be the right thing now even in hindsight.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:14 AM on March 17, 2011


I'm still glad SWPL was deleted, and not because it targeted white people. It's pretty common for black kids to get mocked as "oreo" or "too white" for doing certain things, like listening to punk rock or reading McSweeney's or caring about school. It's harmful and it's not right. This is the same thing that SWPL has done with its implications that certain upper-middle-class sensibilities are exclusively white sensibilities. Maybe it's not an obvious point for some, and that's why people see SWPL as harmless. And most people focus on the ostensible targeting of white people. But really, SWPL does a great (and stealthy) job of asserting the dominance of white people. It's very troublesome once you dig below the surface.

"Haha, that's totally right, white people DO love organic food and trying to help third-world countries. They totally got us."
posted by naju at 10:13 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Firehose of Shit is my second favorite Meat Puppets album.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:21 AM on March 17, 2011


SWPL does a great (and stealthy) job of asserting the dominance of white people. It's very troublesome once you dig below the surface.

Oh, that's ridiculous.
posted by jayder at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's ridiculous that the site and book have done a spectacular job of making "white" a proxy word for an upwardly mobile, liberal, employed, major city-dwelling recent college graduate, yep.
posted by naju at 11:55 AM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]



Someone once observed that humor that makes fun of people below you on the social scale is just cruel; classic humor makes fun of your social betters, because they can take it.

You could probably line up many pictures of super-rich people deformed by their wealth and who have abominable taste, though unless they are Hollywood celebs, shooting pictures of them and posting them on a website is likely to cause you a few legal problems. Shooting and posting pictures of the celebs will cause you legal problems unless you sell your photos to the magazines that routinely run such things.

Posting pictures of poor people who can't afford to sue you for defamation is also cowardly.
posted by bad grammar at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2011


Naju, that's a lucid analysis that manages to crystallize a lot of what I find "off" about SWPL in terms of cultural (and, implicitly, racial) hierarchy. Thank you.
Oh, that's ridiculous.
Try being not White and liking (some of) the stuff White people like. Read SWPL from that vantage point, and it's not long before you realize you're being told "this is not for you."
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe this is a very shallow and naive reading of SWPL, but it seems a pretty incisive mockery of many well-off white people's pretensions of sophistication and cultural sensitivity. It's pretty on-target. I love the fine-grained critiques of specific phenomena, from "the significance of bangs on twentysomething women" to "the use of the COEXIST sticker on cars" to "products made by guys named Tom." It's funny.

I just don't see how it reinforces any cultural/racial hierarchy.
posted by jayder at 3:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could find some of it funny and on-target, jayder, it's just a shame the racial element screws it up so much. You could call it "Stuff Yuppies Like" but then it wouldn't have become as huge as it did. The "white people" part is what made this so huge, and it's also what made it so problematic.

Have you seen the show Portlandia? Funny, on-target, mines similar material and it's specifically about PDX bohemians/hipsters/yuppies, not "white people."
posted by naju at 5:22 PM on March 17, 2011


HAHAHAHA!
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe this is a very shallow and naive reading of SWPL, but it seems a pretty incisive mockery of many well-off white people's pretensions of sophistication and cultural sensitivity. It's pretty on-target. I love the fine-grained critiques of specific phenomena, from "the significance of bangs on twentysomething women" to "the use of the COEXIST sticker on cars" to "products made by guys named Tom." It's funny.

Yeah, the reason i love it is BECAUSE i fit the stereotype

I could find some of it funny and on-target, jayder, it's just a shame the racial element screws it up so much. You could call it "Stuff Yuppies Like" but then it wouldn't have become as huge as it did. The "white people" part is what made this so huge, and it's also what made it so problematic.

the joke is that 'white people' aren't used to being stereotyped like that. we think we're unique. and SWPL is laser-aimed at the same demographic as MeFi
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


we think we're unique.

well, I don't.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on March 17, 2011


I'm so glad this conversation is happening again.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 PM on March 17, 2011


I'm so glad this conversation is happening again.

GRAR [flames out, quits internet]

Nah, whatever, I just think it's sometimes good to look back at things with some perspective and hindsight. (Actually, much as I dislike it, it seems like hipster-hate has replaced the SWPL phenomenon in a big way. But I still just got called out as "white" for liking Animal Collective, so I don't know.)
posted by naju at 12:59 AM on March 18, 2011


tagged as "problems white people have"
posted by fuq at 10:45 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My grandparents lived in Tennessee.

Like many older folks, they reached a point where they preferred walking indoors to outdoors. Well, I suppose "preferred" isn't accurate, as I'm sure all things being equal they would have preferred to continue walking around their beautiful neighborhood out in Pleasant Hill. But all things are not equal, as you age, and the malls of the world give you a chance to walk in a place where it's always dry, where the temperature is always more or less the same, where there are no hills to climb or roots to trip over, and all those things we have the liberty to enjoy when we have our youth but that unfortunately become nuisances should we live long enough.

And once you get over the sacrifices you're making, trading the beauty of the sun in the trees for fluorescent overheads and all that, I suppose you also get people to watch, and some social contact, and you might not need much but that doesn't mean you don't like looking at new tools and whatnot.

And my grandfather had a heart condition that made all this climate-controlled, gradeless stuff especially important. They would go to different places. The outlet mall was for when they felt like driving farther. But they especially liked wal-mart, in Crossville or Knoxville, I can't remember. It was close, it was big, and they could knock off nearly anything from their shopping list while they were there.

They would go first thing in the morning.

My grandfather was a real company man. Loved his jobs, was proud of his career, was forced into retirement early due to the same heart condition. And he found when they showed up right when wal-mart opened for their walk, that he could eavesdrop on the corny little staff huddles these places do when they opened. And he didn't find them corny - they reminded him of being an active part of a company and he loved that. Eventually he didn't have to eavesdrop; he was a part of their meetings and I think they even gave him a name tag. I don't know if he spoke much, or just listened,but he was there.

Now just my grandmother lives in Tennessee. A few years ago the same heart condition killed him, like we always knew it someday would.

And here's the thing: after my grandfather died, the manager of those morning meetings called my grandmother to offer his condolences. And that sort of blew me away, because I would never expect such a gesture. I mean, talking to grieving widows isn't something anyone enjoys, right? And he certainly could have got away with not calling - no one would have missed his call. But he called anyway.

And I guess this means absolutely nothing except maybe that manager is a kinder man than I am, or maybe that small towns really are nice in some ways. But it's the first thing I think of whenever I hear "wal-mart".

It has no bearing on this discussion, but it's Saturday am here in Vancouver and I'm browsing in bed and this made me think of my grandfather, who was gruff and kind and funny, and I thought talking about him was as good a use of my time as any for a few minutes.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:11 AM on March 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


anotherpanacea: "The reminder that this exists makes me want to start something like "People of Whole Foods" depicting the douchebaggery of that socioeconomic group, except I can't be arsed to visit a Whole Foods. The best I can do is link to Catalog Living"

I am thoroughly enjoying this. Thanks!
posted by dejah420 at 2:41 PM on March 19, 2011


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