Pink Flamingo Essay By Jennifer Price

“Materialism coarsens and petrifies everything, making everything vulgar, and every truth false.” These profound words spoken by Swiss philosopher Henri Amiel illustrate the wretched vulgarity and superficiality of the virus-like spread of materialism. In the essay entitled “The Pink Flamingo: A Natural History” by Jennifer Price, Price examines the popularity of the well-known pink flamingo and how it relates to the ideals and whims of American culture. Using American fascination of the plastic, pink flamingo as her medium, Jennifer Price shows her evident disdain for the superficial materialism present in American society.

Jennifer Price introduces her analysis of the flamingo fad by presenting the rise of the pink flamingo in American culture and how society reacted upon the popularization of this cultural icon. Price effectively illustrates the American public’s reaction to the introduction of the plastic, pink flamingo by implementing specific diction that reinforces her own opinions of the “flamingo boom”. Similar to a mindless flock of birds following each other without much thought as to why, Price writes that “Since the 1930s, vacationing Americans had been flocking to Florida and returning home with flamingo souvenirs.” Price’s choice to describe Americans as “flocking” is meant to establish a comparison to a flock of mindless birds; in effect, the author characterizes Americans as bandwagon followers who lack any consideration for the examination of their culture and the conceptual purpose behind their symbolic icons.

The author also presents how Americans have rendered the plastic, pink flamingo as symbolic of wealth and luxury. Price states that “In the 1910s and 1920s, Miami Beach’s first grand hotel, the Flamingo, had made the bird synonymous with wealth and pizzazz.” In the context of the essay, terms like “wealth” and “pizzazz” possess a shallow, superficial connotation that consequently translates into the flamingo as not only being a symbol of wealth and pizzazz but also a symbol of superficiality and vulgar ostentation. Price’s introductory paragraph is significant to the purpose of the essay because it illustrates the magnitude of the flamingo fascination and how Americans irrationally react to the flamingo’s popularity.

In reiteration of Price’s stance, heavy criticism in the essay of the plastic flamingo’s intrinsic boldness simply because it represents an exotic creature depicts Price’s severe disdain for the whims of American society. Price utilizes an ironic situation in conjunction with historical evidence when she attempts to establish a connection between real flamingos and plastic flamingos. Americans, Price points out, “had hunted flamingos to extinction in Florida in the late 1800s, for plumes and meat. But no matter. In the 1950s, the new interstates would draw working-class tourists down, too.” Price bluntly uses facts and historical research about American culture to express her disgust of the irony that the American nation has created for itself with regards to the plastic, pink flamingo. When Price writes “But no matter,” she reinforces the implication that it is as if American society regards the destruction of the flamingo as trivial because capitalist society would benefit more from the production of plastic flamingos that could yield revenue.

Thus, a nation that embraces the flamingo in all its beauty after having been so destructive of the natural population reveals the ironic carelessness and hypocrisy of American society. Furthermore, Price uses the image of the pink flamingo with its natural boldness to emphasize her point about the ignorance of Americans and their culture. The author states, “The bird acquired an extra fillip of boldness, too, from the direction of Las Vegas with…Flamingo Hotel. Anyone who has seen Las Vegas knows that a flamingo stands out in a desert even more strikingly than on a lawn.”

The simple fact that a flamingo is a subtropical animal unfit to live in the desert gives Price the justification to illustrate how Americans took the flamingo fad to such extreme heights without giving one regard to the appropriateness of the flamingo in context. In doing so, Price once again conveys the total ignorance and lack of consideration that characterizes American society. The paragraph in which Price asserts her belief regarding the ironic situation American society has put itself in supports a belief that Americans have taken their obsession so far as to having destroyed a population of animals for the sake of wealth and luxury; thus, the pink flamingo, in the context of Price’s essay, is merely a symbol of the vulgar materialism Americans possess because of their ignorance and inconsideration for the appropriateness of destroying flamingos and “plasticizing” them.

Jennifer Price provides further details regarding the plastic flamingo’s image which forces the reader to question if the plastic flamingo is even close to being a valid representation of its real-life counterpart. Price’s use of imagery in her essay and the interpretation that follows shows that she believes the plastic flamingo is obviously not even fit to represent the true flamingo. Price lists the colors, “tangerine, broiling magenta, livid pink, incarnadine, fuchsia demure, Congo ruby, methyl green,” in order to establish images that overwhelm the reader’s mind with bold colors. The extremely bold colors of the plastic flamingo such as “livid pink” and “broiling magenta” formulate the conclusion that the plastic flamingo could never be synonymous with the quiet, demure brilliancy of a real flamingo.

Thus, once the reader has interpreted the color imagery and concluded that all of the colors are just “too much”, the reader can make the connection that society is also “too much” obsessed with putting on pretenses of wealth as opposed to focusing on issues that really matter such as the preservation of the real flamingo. Price also makes use of repetition in order to express the magnitude of the plastic flamingo’s color in society. Jennifer Price states, “Washing machines, cars, and kitchen counters proliferated in passion pink, sunset pink, and Bermuda pink.” By stating that the pink fad present in the plastic flamingo was also transferred into household appliances such as washing machines and kitchen counters, Price implies that the materialism and vulgarity of appearing wealthy spread into the home; the infiltration of materialism into the home meant that the desire for wealth and extravagance had also infiltrated the aspects of American life.

Price’s criticism of the flamingo’s color fascination supports the essay’s idea that Americans are only satisfied by boldness and extravagance as evident in the pink coloration of household appliances because pink was the color of the symbolic pink flamingo of wealth; Americans, thus, have difficulty equating modesty and demureness with any sort of wealth. The simple belief is that extravagance and flamboyance are the way to go if one wants to appear wealthy. Americans who desire wealth are therefore subject to the whims of materialism and superficiality.

The author concludes by delivering an argument that criticizes American views and ideals, or the lack of, as being disrespectful and insulting towards the significance of the flamingo itself. Jennifer Price uses cultural evidence from other nations to present the importance of the flamingo. She states, “People…have always singled out the flamingo as special. Early Christians associated it with the red phoenix. In ancient Egypt, it symbolized the sun god Ra. In Mexico and the Caribbean, it remains a major motif in art, dance, and literature.” The author uses these facts to justify that the reduction of the brilliant flamingo in American culture to a mere plastic souvenir attached to grass is a shameful comparison to other cultures that respect nature and revered the bird as a glorious symbol.

Price then makes use of parallelism in order to strengthen her criticism of American culture. In the essay, Price states, “No wonder that the subtropical species stood out so loudly when Americans in temperate New England reproduced it, brightened it, and sent it wading across an inland sea of grass.” By using repeating sentence structures through parallelism, Price emphasizes that Americans have done so many things to the flamingo that the plastic version is so far removed from its original counterpart. Thus, Americans have lost sight of the intended genuine meaning behind embracing the flamingo in the first place. The significance of this section within the essay is important because it not only allows the author to go beyond criticism of the flamingo, but it also shows that, in the grand scheme of things, Price was more intent on exposing and criticizing the true validity of all American cultural values.

Jennifer Price allegorized the fascination of the plastic flamingo in order to establish a sort of comparison between obsession with purchasing plastic flamingos that symbolize wealth and the materialism evident in American culture. Although the essay mostly depicts American society as insensitive and inconsiderate according to the author’s tone, the satirical nature of the essay provides a subtle, underlying, hopeful connotation that perhaps one day American society will learn to go beyond their materialistic greed and ascend to a different type of wealth.


Jennifer Price’s essay “The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History”

The Plastic Pink Flamingo

  • Length: 588 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
Since the 1930's, plastic pink flamingos have been a trendy statement piece at hotels and in yards across the country. Jennifer Price, the author of "The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History", uses tone, satire, and diction to show her view on United States culture. Price's view is that United States culture is flashy, cocky, and that Americans tend to try and stand out to get attention.
"The pink flamingo splashed into the fifties market, it staked" (Price lines 1-2). Plastic flamingos are unable to splash like real flamingos, therefore Price is demonstrating satire. Also, the plastic flamingos are staked into the ground. "Americans had been flocking to Florida" (Price line 4) is humorous because the Americans flocking to the southern east coast like flamingos. The plastic pink flamingo became "synonymous with wealth and pizzazz"(Price line7-8). After the Great depression and the war, Americans had a lot of pride for their country, and this was one way of showing it.
"This was a little ironic, since Americans had hunted flamingos to extinction in Florida" (Price lines 13-14). Price may be putting down American because Americans tend to follow the crowd and copy what everyone else is doing. The flamingo could be a metaphor of how Americans are followers and do not come up with their own ideas. The plastic pink flamingo gave an "extra fillip of boldness" (Price line 20). The flamingo was a way for Americans to stand out in the crowd and be noticed. Americans were flashy, cocky, and maybe even a little bit conceited.
"And the Flamingo was pink- a second and commensurate claim to boldness" (Price lines 30-31). American culture is very flashy and bold. By being bold and flashy, it makes Americans stand out from the crowd and be noticed. Pink was the thing to have, it showed wealth and status. "The hues were forward-looking rather than old-fashioned" (Price lines 36-37). The pink flamingos were a way for the Americans to show pride after World War II. The plastic flamingos were the Americans' way of coming back out after the Depression and the war. They are the symbol that marks the beginning of a new era.
"Even a real flamingo is brighter that anything else around it" (Price lines 48-49). The Americans wanted to be recognized after the war and show their pride for their country. The flamingo was a symbol of status and power.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Plastic Pink Flamingo." 14 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
The Plastic Pink Flamingo: A Natural History by Jennifer Price Essay - ... This rising desire for flamingos was not to kill them like before but to make them. This three-sixty turn around was far from the American's normal way of dealing with flamingos. Both killing and making the flamingos however displayed American culture's avarice since hunting and making the flamingo produced a profit, and the plastic flamingo produced was also a display of wealth. Thus, the plastic flamingos not only displayed opulence, but also produced opulence through their rising popularity which caused an increase in production of and profit from the plastic flamingos....   [tags: Americans' obsession with displaying wealth]630 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Cult Films: Analysis of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Pink Flamingos Essay - Cult film, described by some as a film type with an overly obsessive and sometimes ritualistic fan base, characterised not only by its small but dedicated following, but also by the way it deals with current or past affairs with either a blatant disregard for subtlety or political correctness. Others may describe ‘cult film’ as a film type that involves ‘over the top’ acting, disgusting scenes of blood and gore, highly unlikeable characters and ‘clichéd’ often, unbelievable scenarios. However, it can be argued that the definition of ‘cult’ could simply mean ‘a set of controversial films standing up against the norm of mainstream Hollywood conformity.’ Films that do not have a particular int...   [tags: Controversial, Non-conformative]
:: 6 Works Cited
1168 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Overview of Plastic Surgery Essay - Plastic surgery is a corrective specialty that is used for personal or medical purposes. Many people think about plastic surgery is just used for making your nose smaller or breasts bigger, when actually it is used for much more. For example, plastic surgery can also help someone who has gotten burned, by placing skin from another part of the body to the burn. Plastic surgery is primarily used for fixing themselves because they feel self-conscious or feel uncomfortable in their own skin....   [tags: social issues, plastic surgery]
:: 6 Works Cited
1625 words
(4.6 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Negative Effect Plastic has on the Environment Essay - In 1862, Alexander Parkes unveiled an invention, a compound known as celluloid that would change modern history. This is the first known plastic compound to demonstrate the ability to mold when heated and maintain its shape once cooled. While the chemical compounds have evolved over the years, so have its uses and our dependency on them. If we look around our room today, we can see that nearly every product in our house either consists or was built by some form of plastic. This dependence raises some alarming questions....   [tags: celluloid, plastic compound, recycle]
:: 10 Works Cited
2524 words
(7.2 pages)
Research Papers[preview]
Investigating Plastic Degradation due to Sunlight Essay - All plastic types fall under a code no, known as an SPI code (as devised by The Society of the Plastics Industry), based on their chemical composition. As some plastics are more easy to recycle than others. Polyethylene Terephthalate ( PETE or PET) it is the most commonly recycled plastic. High-Density Polyethylene, or HDPE. HDPE products are very safe and they are not known to transmit any chemicals into foods or drinks. Plastic labeled with an SPI code of 3 is made with Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC....   [tags: plastic, sunlight, polyethylene]
:: 1 Works Cited
529 words
(1.5 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Essay on Why Koreans are Obsessed with Plastic Surgery - A Brief History of Plastic Surgery As early as 600 Before Christ (BC) was the beginning when a Hindu surgeon experimented on reconstructing a nose using a piece of cheek. By 1000 Anno Domini (AD), Rhinoplasty was quite familiar because of their barbaric custom of cutting off the noses and upper lips of one’s enemy which sign their victorious towards enemies. In the 16th century, “The father of plastic surgery”, Gaspare Tagliacozzi had reconstructed the slashed noses by transferring flaps of upper arm skin....   [tags: Plastic surgery, Koreans, beauty]1833 words
(5.2 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Alicia Moore (Pink) Essay - Alicia Moore (Pink) Alicia Moore, or Pink as she is better known, has become a music sensation around the United States. My reason for choosing her as a topic is the fact that she was born and raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania my hometown. Doylestown is about an hour northeast of Philadelphia, and it’s easy to take note of anyone famous who comes out of D-Town, as it is called, because it is not the largest of areas. Pink went to the rival high school of mine, Central Bucks High School West, and I actually know a few people who knew her as Alicia Moore through various activities....   [tags: Biography Singer Pink Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
935 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Essay on Analysis of Pink Floyd's Song, Mother - Analysis of Pink Floyd's Song, Mother Had Sigmund Freud lived 40 more years (to the overripe old age of 123), he would have been delighted to hear such a wonderful example of his life's psychoanlytic work embodied in the haunting lyrics of "Mother." Or had Oedipus lived a few millennium longer than his fictional death he would have found an adversary in the youthful Pink, a young boy whose desire for maternal acceptance and love is arguably equal to the greatest mother-centered protagonists in the history of literature....   [tags: Pink Floyd Musicians Lyrics Essays]5282 words
(15.1 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Researching the World of Plastic Surgery Essay - Researching the World of Plastic Surgery In the creation of our beings, we are blessed, and sometimes cursed with features we, as freethinkers, might not otherwise have chosen for ourselves. Certain circumstances however, may arise on the journey known as life, forcing us to reconstruct these features in an effort to construct normal, healthy, lives. Often, we are compelled to reconstruct these features in an effort to enhance an otherwise normal, healthy life. For the individual unaware of the pros and cons, in regards to the acquisition of cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery; I produce this composition in an attempt to inform you, the reader; as well as to expand upon my limi...   [tags: Beauty Plastic Surgery Self Image Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
3659 words
(10.5 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Plastic Surgery Essay - Have you ever considered having plastic surgery. After reading this paper you might want the surgery or you might not. Plastic surgery, a form of art, can reconstruct your body and renew your confidence but can you accept the risks involved.      Plastic surgery ranges from one- thousand dollars to three- thousand dollars or more depending on the surgery (Body fat reduction: Suction-Assisted Lipectomy). There are plenty types of plastic surgery. One type is called liposuction. The best candidates for liposuction are of relatively normal weight with pockets of excess fat in particular areas....   [tags: Plastic Surgery Cosmetic Surgery]1093 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

"All of [the flamingo species] feed in flocks" (Price line 50). Americans 'travel' in flocks; they tend to try not to be unique as individuals rather, they try to be unique as a whole country. Flamingos were associated with early Christians, ancient Egypt, ancient Mexico, and ancient Caribbean history. The United States is one big melting pot of ideas and cultures. We take different ideas and cultural aspects from nations across the globe and work them into our own culture. "Wading across as inland sea of grass" (Price line 61). Satire is used to show how flamingos were used all across the country. Also, it is humorous because flamingos wade in a sea of water, but not a sea of grass.
Flashy, flamboyant, bold, sassy, special, colorful, bright, playful, extravagant, and pink. These are all characteristics that describe United States culture during the plastic pink flamingo era. From the very first sentence, Price uses satire, tone, and diction to illustrate her view on United States culture. Price's view is that United States culture is flashy, cocky, and that Americans tend to try and stand out to get attention.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *