Guy Adams: Loyalty that binds the land of the free

LA Notebook

Share
Related Topics

My name is Guy, and I am an addict. I've tried to fight it, but I can't. My wallet bulges with useless plastic. My letterbox groans daily with fresh junk. Domino's just emailed vouchers for free pizza, saying I was among its "MVP's" of 2009. When I cash them in, which I surely will, I shall reflect on my weakness: a pathetic obsession with corporate loyalty programmes.

Here in America, it's a terrible affliction. Every store, in every shopping mall, will foist a "rewards card" on you. Some supermarkets actually charge more for groceries if you refuse to carry one. In fashionable districts of LA, not having a Starbucks card is considered as eccentric as ordering full-fat milk in your coffee.

The grand-daddies of all loyalty programmes, however, are "frequent flyer" schemes. In a country where geography makes air travel a necessity, rather than an option, they confer priceless status. Some allow you to bypass queues or use posh lounges. Really good ones provide free flights, or an upgrade.

Little wonder, then, that US divorce cases have been fought over custody of air-miles. Or that Christmas sees my fellow addicts brave underpants bomber paranoia, and holiday season queues, to complete 24-hour "mileage runs" (Google it) in search of vaunted "gold" or "medallion" status for next year. For better or worse, it's a national obsession.

Which brings us to Up In the Air, the Oscar-worthy film that will shortly hit UK cinemas. Critics have largely dubbed it a recession-era comedy about sacking people. But I'd say, instead, that it represents a full-blown satirical assault on the entire institution of corporate loyalty.

The life of George Clooney's lead character is devoted to frequent-flyer miles – with predictably unhappy consequences. If Up In the Air triumphs in the coming awards season, people will say it's a film about big business stiffing its employees. But for my money, it's actually about how big business, and the compelling illusion of corporate loyalty, can stiff us all.

Who's the ***hole?

Speaking of airports, Avatar director James Cameron prompted a late entry for the Hollywood quote-of-the-year this week, when he called an autograph hunter at LAX "asshole" adding: "Get out of my fucking personal space."

The punter, watched by paparazzi TV crews, responded: "I'm an asshole because I ask someone I admire for their autograph? That makes me an asshole? I pay $15, what I earn in an hour of work, to see your film, and I'm an asshole? Who's really the asshole here?"

Mr Cameron did not answer. Perhaps he knew there was no need.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts

Björt Ólafsdóttir
 

Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

John Rentoul
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor