Full disclosure: I haven’t read the piece you reference. I also don’t have a TV. Ergo, few of your questions apply to me. Additionally, I don’t give a hoot about “the latest status symbol.” Haven’t spent anything on the examples you list … let alone spending extra. So, I’m probably not your target audience. I’m certainly not the person you had in mind, while writing.
Why am I here, then? I clicked because your title intrigued me (speaking of which). But this stopped me short:
Exactly when and where you are NOT manipulated in your life?
Argumentum ad populum? Sounds a bit crowded … and like a good reason to get off the bandwagon.