Friday, May 25, 2012

Pawn Stars and Hardcore Pawn - Unintentional Commentary About Our Society

I like to go to estate sales, tag sales, an occasional garage/yard sale now and again, to estate auctions. I also lke to try to sell some of the treasure I buy at those places. Sometimes I have made good money, other times people have offered me an amount that I thought was a joke. I just turned them down and held onto the item to try again. Sometimes, after not selling it for too long a time, I had to realize it was not worth as much as  wanted and I would settle for a much lower price. Once or twice I even realized I never should have bought the item in the first place because it was jsut out and out junk, so I threw it away. 

I guess, with those interest it was pretty natural for me to wind up liking shows about antiques like Antiques Roadshow, about turning trash into treasure like American Pickers, and about people getting what they can with odd things they have like on Pawn Stars and Hardcore Pawn. They are fun to watch, at least for me.

I guess I would never have expected it but there has been an added benefit for me, other than entertainment, while watching these shows. By watching them, I have learned a lot about American society, especially about those in our society who believe they are entitled to what other people own. I got education mostly from the last two shows I mentioned - Pawn Stars and Hardcore Pawn.  Maybe not so much by watching Pawn Stars and more by watching Hardcore Pawn but the truth is that if you watch them both you get to see vastly different societal groups and how each thinks what is fair and just.

For instance, you watch Pawn Stars, a guy brings in what he claims is Houdini's straight jacket. The guys in the shop ask the potential seller if it is okay to bring in an expert to verify that this is indeed Houdini's actual straight jacket. The seller agrees, the expert comes in and he indeed does verify with photographic evidence, that it was Houdini's straight jacket, one he actually used in his acts. The guy asks for a certain amount, and Rick - the shop's owner, haggles with him. The seller decides that Rick is not offering enough and then he leaves the shop with the now very prized straight jacket. This all takes place in an atmosphere of relative tranquility. This is the case with almost every sale or purchase offering that is seen on this show. The shop is located in Las Vegas, not the most conservative of locales but one in which people are known to be, in general, productive and who work for a living even if most of that work is dedicated to the gaming/gambling industry.

Then we move to the Detroit, MI area where the store shown in Hardcore pawn is located. They have a very different type of clientele than does the shop on Pawn Stars. If you doubt me just watch each of these two shows a few times. Many of the folks shown, who come into the pawn shop on Hardcore Pawn, get into arguments with the shop's staff. What do they argue about? Well it seems that when they come into the shop to sell or pawn something, many of them truly seem to believe that they are entitled to the shop owners money and that when they ask for a set price, in that shop, the money they are trying to get in the deal is actually owed to them no matter what is the value of the item they are tring to sell. If they don't get what they ask, most leave, but many - way too many - go berserk and demand that which, for some unfathomable reason, they believe is already theirs.

It, that sense of entitlement, makes me wonder why in Detroit and not in Las Vegas. Sure, some of the folks who go into the shop on Pawn Stars, the one in Las Vegas, expect to get more than they are offered and some become incredulous or even upset that they were not offered more but they often just decide not to sell and to try elsewhere. I do not recall seeing one who ever started to get violent while demanding that the shop give them exactly what they are asking. I have never seen one person in that shp act as if they are entitled to someone else's money. On the other hand, in the show Hardcore Pawn, we see many heated altercations between store employees and potential sellers - sellers who obviously believe they are actually entitled to get whatever price they ask for any junk they are trying to sell. We also see people, who have pawned items, disputing angrily how much they owe or do not owe while trying to get pawned items back or manage their accounts. Again - why in the Detroit area as opposed to Las Vegas.

I can only imagine that it has something to do with the deep seated leftism that has established itself in Detroit. Detroit has not had a conservative mayor in what seems like eons. It had been a manufacturing mecca but became a fortress of unionization and the jobs disappeared. It is one of the most rundown, if not the most rundown, city in the United States. It is a city full of decay and desolation from what I can see and of course, it has a huge welfare program! There is little, if anything, about the Detroit of the last couple to few decades that makes me think of productivity, of the work ethic, of the American dream. Instead, when I think of Detroit, I think of it as being a prime example of how policies on the left have failed us. I also think of it as a city full of leeches, those who think that everyone else owes them something. That was my picture of Detroit for many years before Hardcore Pawn was ever a sparkle in the show producer's eyes.

Now, if the folks shown on Hardcore Pawn truly are the customers of that particular pawn shop and if their actions as seen on the show are real and not staged, let me ask you this: What more do Americans need to open their eyes and realize that all this welfare and other entitlement crap has gone to far? We need to end it and end it now and get people working instead of sucking on the once huge but now almost dry government tit. It is about time people work hard for what they want instead of trying to take away from the rest of us what we have worked hard to earn.

All the best,
Glenn B


Dave said...

Just stumbled onto your blog from reading a comment over at Blogmonicon.

I think you make some great points about the difference in the two pawn shows and their clientele. I would just add in that when the Las Vegas sellers are told by Rick, the owner, that he has to make a profit, they seem to understand it without any strange looks as if making a profit would be stealing.

I know it is probably generalizing a bit, but I think that is how the unions ruined Detroit in the first place. That whole mindset that the union workers have an equal investment in the running of the business. Their is never a consideration of risk and overhead.

Anyway, great post and I'll be checking out more of your blog.

Anonymous said...

I think there is some truth to what you're saying but you have to remember what the aim of each show is. Hardcore Pawn doesn't highlight the items; it is all about the drama. The staff at HP is also incendiary in the way they talk to their customers. You also have to remember what it is like to be poor, desperate, and looking to get on TV. You're going to get drama with a cocktail of broke, and perhaps addicted to drugs, emotional customers with the rude staff of the store. With Pawn Stars the show is not only about the family but the items. That's why every item and customer you see on that show is hand picked and interviewed before they go on. You simply don't see the drama because that's not what the show is about; it's viewers aren't looking for that so they filter it out. TruTv has a bunch of shows, like Hardcore Pawn, that are staged PURELY for drama. I think people who feel entitled (rich AND poor) exist in every city. I've never been to Las Vegas but I hear it's got it's share of scum and is dangerous. When you think about the number of broke people wandering the streets at night desperate to get cash, Pawn Stars could have easily made a more drama-themed show but they didn't. After all it's on History Channel. They only film during the day and they screen every customer.