What is the claim of this humorous article and who is its intended audience?

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In my opinion, the target audience for this column is an upper-class elite audience.  This is much like the readership of this newspaper in general.

You can see this in what the article has to say about the tastes of average Americans.  Brooks (who I usually like very much) is kind of looking down his nose at the people who watch these makeover type shows.  He talks about how they are watching shows based on ideas that have been "run through the Vulgarizer."  (To be fair to him, he mocks the PBS watchers too.)

As for his more substantive point, he is saying that we are a country that is too convinced that our lives can be changed by material stuff.  We think that our lives will be better if our X were just changed.  He is implying that this is something of a shallow way to look at the world.

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