Granted, I’ve never been drunk enough or frivolous enough (though certainly been accused of being a raging materialist) to purchase something from the SkyMall catalogue or website while flying above ten thousand feet, but the knowledge that such a wide lineup of unnecessary shit could exist was a comfort to my belief in the American way.
However, as the old saying goes, “Nothing gold can stay.” And so, on January 22nd, 2015, a mere twenty-five years after it was founded, the Phoenix-based SkyMall filed for bankruptcy. I suppose most catalogue-related businesses have had to file for bankruptcy by now, but SkyMall should have been untouchable, a timeless travel staple for the rest of eternity in “in-flight entertainment.” Was anyone under the age of 60 ever going to buy something from Plow and Hearth or Gadgets Universe? Probably not. But at least it was always there as a potential option for the under 60 set.
Maybe some people feel that the death of SkyMall is insignificant, an inevitability really. But it represents the final demise of liberal and impractical purchases as Americans once knew them. And while some may view this a good thing–a necessary end to the proverbial greed of the collective gaping mouth of United States consumerism–it is the symbol that signals the end not only of the plentitude of American existence but the importance of tangibility in our society. No longer do we need or want to order things from catalogues that we will ultimately be able to hold in our hands. No, all we want is that which is impalpable–and it’s a scary vision of the future, one that presumably mirrors the plot of Idiocracy, but without cool SkyMall shit in the mix.