[Content Note: Classism; victim-blaming.]

Two different-sex couples sit in a park having a picnic. One couple, both of whom appear to be white, is dressed in "fancy" sweaters and slacks; the other couple, a man who appears to be white and an Asian woman, are dressed down in a hoodie and cardigan, respectively. They are all young, thin, and kyriarchetypically attractive.

Fancy Couple is drinking from glassware and a ceramic pitcher. Casual Couple is drinking from red plastic party cups and a plastic thermos.

"It's so good to see you guys," says Fancy Woman. "So, what's up?" Fancy Couple pulls lobsters from a picnic basket.

"Well," says Casual Woman, "we finally bought a place."

"Holy cow!" exclaims Fancy Woman.

"You seriously have enough saved to do that?" asks Fancy Man, holding a lobster in his hand.

"We've been putting a little aside each month," says Casual Man, and Casual Woman nods.

When we cut back to Fancy Couple, they're face-down in massage chairs getting massaged by handsome white blond masseurs, and they're eating the lobsters with their bare hands. "Geez!" says Fancy Woman. "By the end of the month, we have nothing left to save!"

"Yeah," says Fancy Man. "I have no idea where it goes!"

"Well," says Casual Woman, "you're spending a lot...? On—"

"Oh. Ah. Mm," groans Fancy Man, his mouth full of lobster, as he gets massaged, totally ignoring Casual Woman.

"Is it good?" asks Fancy Woman. He responds with more groans. Casual Couple exchange a WTF look.

Suddenly Fancy Couple are in a hot air balloon basket and start to lift off. "How is my account overdrawn?!" wonders Fancy Woman.

Over the image of a hot air balloon, a male voiceover says, "When it comes to financial stability, don't get left behind. Get tools and tips for saving at Feed the Pig dot org."
Text indicates that the ad comes care of the Ad Council and AICPA, which is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Shaker speedbudget sent me this advertisement with the following text, which I am sharing with her permission: "I saw this horrible ad about saving money last night, and I was ready to throw something at the dang TV. I am living paycheck to paycheck, and it's not because I'm out spending money on lobsters and massages. It's because I don't make enough money to last me from paycheck to paycheck. I have student loan debt and credit card debt from when I was in said school just trying to feed myself. This ad also completely elides the fact that wages have been stagnant for 30 years now while the cost of living has gone up."

This ad is shitty for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is because it evokes the trope of the irresponsible, extravagant spender living well beyond hir means, which became ubiquitous in public discussions of bankruptcies and home foreclosures at the height of the recession, as a means of redirecting accountability onto individuals and their frivolous spending habits while deflecting corporate responsibility for spiraling healthcare costs and predatory lending, just for a start.

And, yes, it is a big universe, and within it there are people who are financially irresponsible, but mostly these failures are the result of systemic problems, and tropes about failures of "personal responsibility" are the way in which we collectively continue to task individuals with finding solutions to those systemic problems.

It's important to call this bootstraps bullshit out every time we see it.

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