This curious word appears in a current railway station advertisement for the American TV comedy series Ballers, which is streamed by a well-known cable-TV provider in Australia. The series focuses on a group of football players, their associates (managers, friends and families) and their extravagant and ‘cool’ lifestyles. The title plays on the use of baller in African-American slang, meaning someone with monetary means way above average – originally a professional basketball player living high on a multimillion-dollar income with drugs, trophy women and prestige cars at his command. The station advertisement pictures the chagrin of the baller in front of his smashed up sports car, as he’s being forced to catch the train, which is pitched as a “decidedly un-baller way to travel”. As the flip side of baller, un-baller seems to be a byword for anything that represents micro-management of money, puny savings, or telling the shop assistant to “keep the 63 cents change” – according to a sardonic blog on the “most un-baller things”. But for the thousands who catch the un-baller train every day, the ad provides some consolation that they can “stream anytime, anywhere”, and ease their financial pain on the way home with the latest episode of Ballers.
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