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Weekend Tv : Materialism In Make-a-buck L.a.

June 06, 1987|BILL STEIGERWALD

A better name for "L.A.: The Mecca of Materialism" (airing Sunday at 8 p.m. on KHJ-TV Channel 9) might be "Lifestyles of the Rich and Stupid."

But instead of Robin Leach drooling over the wealth of the famous, "Mecca's" writer/producer/reporter Jim Murphy sort of spits down at the everyday clod for his selfish pursuit of life's material goodies.

America's a materialistic society! Why, some people spend $19,000 for one hunk of Cartier jewelry! Or blow $100 in one night at a disco! And zillionaires live in mansions and keep working like dogs to make even more!

Along with these news flashes and the usual images of L.A.'s car- and fashion-mad culture, "Mecca" presents a parade of entrepreneurs, fast-laners and a host of seemingly brain-dead, mall-wandering shopping addicts who willingly confess to their materialism. Jaycees are yuppies-in-training. An ambitious MBA student's contribution: "I want bucks."

These and other stupes, amateur and professional, are rather unfairly used in support of "Mecca's" cheap theme that, beyond a human's most basic needs, almost any pursuit of self-gratification--from belonging to a health club to using credit cards--is somehow a high crime against society.

There are many dumb moments in the unintentionally funny "Mecca." But the prize-winner is the poor woman who explains why she got a $6,000 face lift: "When you look good, people draw to you easier." To this pearl, she adds, "California is very materialistic--probably one of the most materialistic cities in the world."

Which is why most of "Mecca" makes "Eye on L.A." seem like "Nightline."

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