Keeping up with the Joneses

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is an expression originated with Arthur “Pop” Momand’s Keep Up With The Joneses comic strip published in 1913. The strip has been adapted into several books, carton movies and films, and its main characters are “The Joneses”. “The Joneses” were never seen and they represented a random neighbor family, since the name is one of the most common in the United States.

Since then, the expression became very popular and refers “to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class or the accumulation of material goods. To fail to “keep up with the Joneses” is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority.”[1]

The Joneses

In “The Joneses” 2009 movie we are told the story of an apparently perfect family: a successful businessman and father Steve Jones (David Duchovny), his charismatic and devoted wife Kate (Demi Moore), and his two hyper cool and beautiful teenagers: Mick and Jenn. The Joneses move to a posh suburban neighborhood with a notorious impact, as they rapidly will become a moel and a trendsetter for everyone.

Although the movie falls in all the predictable narrative cliches of the box office American movies, it underlines a dark vision of marketing and of a society where people’s happiness is related to material consumption and to social status.

Along these lines “The Joneses” is a fascinating and contradictory product: a Hollywood movie that criticizes product placement strategies. Also, it is a interection reflection about how influence works.