America, the land of the free, is also a land of contradictions. There seem to be two prominent versions of American lifestyle portrayed in popular culture. The first is a simple life, where one can live in close proximity with nature, the great outdoors, and away from the confinement of the city. The other is the life of mass excess, enjoyed by the few who sit at the top of the pyramid of American capitalism. Weezer’s Beverly Hills embodies the latter America, by detailing the allure of the lives of the rich and the famous in Los Angeles.
The song is written from the perspective of an outsider looking into this community, who places Beverly Hills on a pedestal when contrasted with his own life. Whilst Beverly Hills represents extravagant wealth, where Rivers Cuomo (the lead-singer/songwriter of Weezer) comes from ‘isn’t all that great,’ his car is ‘a piece of crap,’ and he even displays a slight prejudice towards his own friends, who are ‘just as screwy’ as him. This reflects the idolisation of the rich and famous in America. Small town family values have been entirely rejected in exchange for the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. The punk rock grunginess of the music itself adds to the feeling of frustration that some of those excluded from Beverly Hills face.
Beverly Hills makes the connection between the American worship of money and sex. ‘Preppy girls’ never gave Rivers a chance. However, even Rivers himself justifies this shallow prejudice – ‘why should they? I ain’t nobody, got nothing in my pocket.’ Money is of such importance that it is a prerequisite for any kind of relationship with these women. However, there are also strict standards for women in this version of America as well. By setting the music video at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion, it is evident that the women of Beverly Hills are as beautiful as the men are wealthy. Beverly Hills is being depicted as a kind of heaven on Earth, where everybody is as successful as they are beautiful. However, if you don’t meet these standards, you aren’t welcome.
Whilst many Americans would believe that anyone from the most humble of beginnings can make their way from the bottom of society to the top through hard work, Rivers doesn’t share the same sense of optimism that the American Dream promises. Rivers wants to be ‘like a king,’ hinting at the idea that the Beverly Hills elite are almost like the aristocracy of America. This is an interesting idea in a society that was founded against the monarchical structures of the Old World. Rivers then describes himself as a ‘no class, beat down fool,’ and forever resigns himself to this reality: ‘I will always be that way.’ In a capitalistic society, where there will inevitably be those that are wealthier than others, Beverly Hills captures the resentment of being a low-income earner, whilst simultaneously worshipping the ground upon which the wealthy walk. Despite being forever excluded from this clique, that’s where they want to be: living in Beverly Hills.