Junk Status

The word “status,” connoting a combination of wealth and prestige, must have entered the Greek lexicon in the last twenty years. The Greek language offers several words that convey the same meanings, but none of them can instantly blend American sex appeal with the notions of wealth and prestige. For Greeks, “status” is shorthand for a Hollywood fantasy, the allure of celebrity culture (see this “men’s magazine“), the good life. Today, the word acquired new meaning as Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, downgraded Greek bonds to junk status. Those I’ve spoken with in Athens say that people feel spooked by the new reality. They can’t understand why the Germans have turned against them, why the world won’t help. It’s about fear and powerlessness now and anything but “status.”

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