This Poker Millionaire's Lavish Instagram Is What's Wrong With America
But it's hard to argue that he really wants us to think so. After getting kicked out of Navy SEAL training for calling his commanding officer a "pussy," the poker millionaire enrolled at the University of South Florida, where he started gambling ... a lot.
Within a few years, he was clocking millions at the card table. Like any pro gambler, he's had his ups and downs – including multiple heart attacks, a pulmonary embolism, a year living among the Mormons of Utah and jail time for getting caught with a machine gun in the trunk of his car.
But all told, life's treated him pretty well: "Everything's been great since college," he says.
While it's nice to see someone enjoying life, it's too bad that his Instagram feed is basically everything that's wrong with America today. Hundreds of photos documenting the "flash and pizzazz" — to quote Manny from Scarface — of Bilzerian's time in the fast lane have made him an Internet celebrity. He's garnered both disgust and admiration for his exploits, one moment being derided as "Fake Equis," and the next having a man tell him (via Twitter) that he wants to "come back as [Bilzerian's] penis" when he dies.
It's easy to dismiss his critics as haters, because of course criticizing the objectification of women means you're just jealous, bro. But on a grander scale, Bilzerian's "conspicuous consumption" has a sharper sting for many Americans in light of current events. The poker champ embodies the lifestyle of the "contemporary leisure class" — a group whose spending habits serve no purpose but to "to build prestige, a cultural signifier intended to intimidate and impress," as explained by Daniel Gross.
This kind of spending highlights the larger problem of increasing wealth disparities in the U.S. When Bilzerian flaunts his riches, he glorifies the misguided aspirations that American culture often celebrates: prestige and "success" defined as the accumulation of things, whether inanimate objects or women displayed as props.
And while he's being celebrated for this, an economic crisis fuelled by such greed has caused thousands of home foreclosures and cost Americans over 7.9 million jobs. How's that for irony?
Image Credit: CNN
But perhaps most egregiously, the way Bilzerian represents himself on Instagram is like watching a tidal wave of horrible macho stereotypes spiked with liberal doses of misogyny, raising the question of whether he has a sign on his door that reads: "Women must be at least THIS naked before entering."
But love him, hate him or simply wish he'd disappear and take his adorable kitten with him, Bilzerian is unlikely to give a shit what you or anyone else thinks. Perhaps we should think twice before criticizing him — he has an entire arsenal waiting.
On second thought, the kitten can stay with us if you decide to leave: