When I was young I worked as a cocktail dude in a riverboat casino that started up in flyover country. My job was to flirt up the women and gay guys.
It was really depressing. Our stupid glittery vests and bowties were supposed to be derived from tuxedo wear. The girls were just vegas-style sexy — almost trashy. The management talked a lot about wanting a “classy” atmosphere (interesting word, no?). The slots were decorated with all sorts of money-induced graphics. Donald duck look-alikes with dollar signs in their eyeballs.
I don’t remember when it actually struck me, but what casinos are selling is the illusion of wealth. The simulacra of wealth. Thus the consistent focus on being classy.
Because the people in there were not the reality of wealth and upper class at all. They were working class red staters, staring vacantly into the machines. If you looked at the picture stepping away from the socially constructed illusion of wealth, it was actually a pretty bleak picture. The constant noise, the low priced alcohol, the oxygen jazzed air, the lack of windows, the working class people hoping to get rich. The reality and the image could almost not be further apart. I didn’t have the words, but it was one of my first experience of phenomenology and social construction. Or just really good marketing.