Acclaimed critic Sianne Ngai theorizes the gimmick as an aesthetic category reflecting the fundamental laws of capitalism. Gimmicks make promises of saving labor and increasing value that we distrust but also find attractive. Exploring the use of this form, Ngai shows how its aesthetic dissatisfactions reflect deeper anxieties about capitalism.
Sianne Ngai is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Ugly Feelings and Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, winner of the Modern Language Association's James Russell Lowell Prize. Her work has been translated into multiple languages.