The Plastic Pink Flamingo: a Natural History
Jennifer Price’s Perspective on American Culture and its Values in the 50′, a Critical Review
In the essay “The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History”, Jennifer Price explores the intriguing character of pink flamingo in America. She dives into the flamingo’s enigmatic symbolism and highlights aspects of the country’s culture. Through her utilization of word choice and a sarcastic tone, Price provides analysis on American culture and conveys her distaste for its values in the 1950s.
Price begins her essay by explaining the origin of the flamingo’s popularity. She points out that the flamingo’s popularity rose on the premise that it was simply “a flamingo”. Her use of italics while stating the obvious mocks the irrational mindset of American culture- acting foolishly to exhibit one’s wealth to the world- that led to the bird’s popularity. Price finds the situation comical and conveys the irony of American antics. She alludes to the past in which Americans hunted Florida’s flamingos to extinction for it’s resources, yet it was no matter- a hundred years later, flamingos would “inscribe one’s lawn emphatically” as a sign of leisure and extravagance. Prominently, individuals decorated their lawns with a plastic flamingo to associate themselves with the prosperous individuals of society- despite the bird being taking for granted and slaughtered in the past. The reader understands the correlation of the flamingo with extravagance and luxury in the country, and realizes the ignorant desire of Americans to express their status in society. Ultimately, the bird was a symbol of American’s desire to flaunt their affluence and the ignorance of American culture.
Price continues by asserting that the flamingo’s conspicuous color was appealing to Americans in the 1950s. She describes the extravagant plethora of colors that plastic industries favored including “tangerine, broiling magenta,” and hot pink, which remained the dominant color of the decade. Her specificity emphasizes that the coloring of products in the country was unnecessary. Undoubtedly at the time, Americans wanted to celebrate and express their pride in a new era of prosperity following the Great Depression- even if it meant the production of lavish items and opposing traditional decorum. Additionally, Price provides examples of celebrities who sported pink luxuries such as Elvis Presley who “bought a pink Cadillac” after getting signed on his first recording contract. Her association of pink with fame conveys that popularity was a valued aspect of American society. Thus, the working class also purchased pink products that famous individuals possessed. Evidently, American culture was also shaped by foolish desires of fame and to fit in with society.
Jennifer Price also compares and contrasts the symbolism of the pink flamingo in America with other countries of the world. She claims that the flamingo had cultural importance in various countries including Ancient Egypt where it “symbolized the sun god Ra” and remains a “major motif” in Mexico and the Caribbean for art- so it’s not a wonder why it stood out to America. Since other countries rendered the flamingo as a figure of importance, Americans latched onto its image and started implementing the pink flamingo into the country’s culture. Individuals coveted attention or to be noticed by others, which was expressed by their property. It is apparent that the country wanted to remain of significance and relevance to the rest of the world. Prominently, Price conveys that American culture at the time had become superficial.
The history of the pink flamingo in American culture offers a fascinating perception on the country’s values at the time. Without a doubt, the plastic flamingo reflected values of the American culture and was a symbol of its flashy and, arguably, foolish lifestyle in the 1950s.
Critical Review of The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History
The Pink Flamingo
In Jennifer Price’s essay, “The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History,” she reveals her optimistic view of United States culture by comparing the characteristics of the iconic pink flamingo to the mindset of Americans with allusions to other cultures and descriptive diction.
Price’s parrallelism to the effects of the flamingo and mindset of America is clearly shown with cultural allusions. As Price reveals her hope and view that the generation is being reborn she alludes to the associations of the flamingo, “Early CHristians associated it with the red phoenix.” Jennifer Price includes this specific example to emphasize the relation between two birds–flamingo and phoenix. From her viewpoint the flamingo, which represents Americans, is being reborn out of the ashes, as the Phoenix is known for. The rising from the ashes refers her previous that the flamingo’s life and color was “just right for a generation, raised in the Depression, that was ready to celebrate its new affluence.” Price’s cultural allusion to Mexico and the Caribbean that the flamingo “remains a major motif in art, dance, and literature,” further emphasizes her view of the United States culture revolutionizing its education. Americans are understanding, exceeding, and developing their artistic talents, bringing to life a boldness that “the people who lived near these places have always singled out the flamingo as special.” Surrounding countries and are taking notice of the unique qualities “flamingos” have to offer.
The synonymous diction and qualities of miscellanous objects are manipulated by Price to hint at her mindset of American culture. Her humour is evident in her opening statement, “[The flamingo] staked two major claims to boldness. First it was a flamingo (italicized).” The choice of a flamingo was already bad to begin with. Price’s repetition of the word “boldness” accompanied with “flamboyant,” “extravagance,” and “wealth and pizazz” are timely placed for the reader to imply her views on the current culture. Price saw this as a gleeful, jubilant celebration for all citizens of America. Unlike the Gilded Age of America which provided glamour in order to mask corruption and scandal, the pink flamingo “splashed” into an “oasis of instant riches. The second bold claim, as Price describes, was the choice of color. Her rhetorical questioning in the last paragraph emphasizes the importance of choosing a color that “stands out in a desert even more strikingly than on a lawn.” Price’s hope of the bold revival can be inferred from her contrast that American culture is more extravagant because of the economic travesty it was in befor. Price elaborates on her ideals with her specific adjectives to describe the boldness of pink. “Passion pink, sunset pink…,” Price views the culture of the United States as one with the “passion” to overcome and the “sunset” that ends an “old-fashioned” era to begin “forward-looking “ into the prospects of the future.
Price crafts her view of American culture with subtlety. Her casualtone when writing about the wonders of the Pink flamingo parrallels to her view of a revolution in America. The turning point and beginning of an upward climb all condensed into the talks of a bold pink flamingo.