When you look up images of Burning Man, what do you see? If Google’s algorithm is showing you the same results as I, your images tab is flooded with pictures of 20-something white women and 40-something white men, many of whom are dressed in some amalgamation of textiles from the global south with the occasional thread of glitter. You can almost hear them now.
“The playa is my home, man,” they declare, trailing off into a silty vocal fry. “It’s all about radical self reliance.” Pay particularly close attention to the olfactory sensations of this thought exercise and you’ll detect the stench of French cigarettes, soured espressos, and tech industry libertarianism.
After six years in the Bay Area — living in housing cooperatives, working in cannabis, and frequenting landmarks of our local artists scene — I’ve met my fair share of “Burners,” or people who attend the nine-day desert music festival, Burning Man. Most of them are lovely people. Many more of them fulfill the stereotype described above so accurately that one wonders if they’re following a script. It’s no coincidence that media portrayals of Burning Man depict a crowd that is disproportionately white, often upwardly mobile, and frequently subscribing to Silicon Valley’s strange mix of performative eco-consciousness, social media progressivism, and the barely concealed fetishization of John Galt.
In 2021, this is what Burning Man has become: a brash bachanal of drugs, sex, art, and most importantly, money.
Related: Bill Maher: Liberals Are the Fun Suckers Now. “Look, here’s my libertarian side: I don’t really care about any of partying, drugs, and consenting adults doing whatever. Yet, Maher noticed something odd happening between the parties with this story. They’ve switched roles. The GOP is doing having fun, while the Democrats are acting like the Public Morals Bureau. As Maher noted, which is true, conservatives were the ones whose backsides were clenched so tight that you could grind diamonds to dust. Maher’s build-up rips the 1980s conservative establishment but it actually tees him up to go after the woke Left, who he says are millennials who embodied all the bad characteristics Southern Baptist. The Left is the ones for speech codes, blacklists, and cancel culture now. They’re the ‘fun-suckers.’”
Flashback to the Kavanaugh hearings: Did Conservatives Win The Culture War?