In a quick search it is possible to verify that the relationship between gold and food goes back a long way. 5 thousand years ago, for example, the Egyptians ingested gold because they believed that the metal had some power to purify the body and mind. Over the centuries, gold became synonymous with wealth, merit (in the case of Olympic medals), or demonstrations of importance in affective relationships, in the case of jewelry.
Obviously, the scenes starring the former player Ronaldo and the current Brazilian national team player, Vinicius Junior, in Qatar are of such rudeness and insensitivity. Because the association with the tragic situation in Brazil, which has returned to the hunger map thanks to the incompetence and mismanagement of the Bolsonaro government, is direct. After all, we have more than 30 million people in a situation of serious food insecurity across the country.
Ronaldo is still a public and historical figure for Brazilian sport, and the image of him consuming golden meat, in a famous steakhouse, in the middle of the World Cup, sounds like a mockery, in addition to being tacky. The fusion of these two elements: gold and meat produces an imagery of ostentation and wealth that strikes the eyes of anyone who has some discernment of Brazilian reality. It could also be that, in a moment of euphoria and relaxation, the players, seduced by a “joke” worth 9,000 reais, got carried away, and that maybe they didn’t even pay to try that delicacy.
On the other hand, let us not forget that ostentation has become a social value. In times of digital networks, no one escapes the siren song: travel photos, the wine you drink, the party you’re enjoying, the car you bought, wedding photos, children’s birthdays, everything becomes a currency of exchange and that has more to do with narcissistic accumulation than with the accumulation of capital. In other words, showing the other what is achieved is part of the consumption package. Because you see, it’s not enough just to consume, you have to show that you can consume. Without this receipt, consumption is not complete. Consuming is also provoking desire in the other. This is how capitalism sustains itself.
Social distinction, which goes through ostentation, is necessary for the desire to consume to remain lit. For those who come from less affluent classes, rising socially takes on another dimension. The denial and prohibition of certain products by the capitalist system create in this subject an idea of social reparation focused on consumption. This is confirmed by a quick look at the images of the national team players wearing sneakers that are much more expensive than the infamous golden meat, for example.
We can also make a racial cut in the case of Ronaldo and Vinicius Junior, because I wonder what effect the image of two black players consuming golden meat, in Qatar, has on our imagination. Would the same be true of successful white men? What does this ostentation mean from black bodies that are seen, most of the time, in a situation of poverty and subalternity? Why do we take it hard when black people flaunt what we agree as a social value? Furthermore, who has the right to boast without being condemned by the court of social networks? I don’t have the answer, but the questions remain for us to reflect on.
The question that arises is how to escape these traps of capitalism that associate consumption with a lifestyle. Because consuming has become a way of life. A way of life that associates our condition as a consumer with our existential condition. We have been reduced to the act of buying and showing that you have bought. Eat the golden meat, and show that you have eaten. So, it doesn’t matter that gold won’t add any flavor to the meat, what matters is this capitalist fetish of swallowing wealth.