Skip to main content

Fattening up the idle rich

If the rest of us are sweating through a wretched climate-change-seared August, it's a good bet the super-rich and powerful are calm, air-conditioned and happily summering in the world's most posh retreats.

Of course, to paraphrase the late great Molly Ivins, most Americans do not employ the word "summer" as a verb, because such usage implies an annual season of luxury that the typical prole can only dream of during his few days off at the local state park (if he's lucky to have a vacation and lucky enough to live near a state park that hasn't been shuttered by budget cuts). But summering is what the wealthy do -- and when they do it so ostentatiously in such a pulverizing recession, it all but screams "Let Them Eat Cake."

So, too, does the rhetoric of a presidential race beginning in earnest. As the 2012 candidates now romp through primary-state hamlets, they are already road-testing a carefully sculpted type of "Let Them Eat Cake" rhetoric that somehow makes them sound simultaneously like populist Huey Longs and loyal mouthpieces for their biggest corporate campaign contributors.

With that as a preview, let's look at this month in "Let Them Eat Cake." (David Sirota, “‘Let them eat cake!’: Summer edition,” Salon, 17 August 2011)


We're not exactly shoving this exulted pap down their throats, but ...

Let's admit it to ourselves. Many of us wanted these kinds of stories to circulate, for they make us, by way of contrast, in our poorness, insecurity, and perpetual striving, more honest, noble, and good. The rich, though they know it not, are mostly our delegates, playing the part of the unconscionable bad "guy" so we can begin to feel ourselves more worthy after having selfishly partaken of so many riches we really hadn't the resources to afford.

Further, they are playing the part of the self-absorbed, their-children-ignoring parent, who must ultimately not be dethroned lest the child impinge on her/himself the psychologically untenable realization that their parents, not ultimately somehow themselves ("I must have been disobedient," the child concludes, after his father demonically beats him with a belt; "I must have been noisy," the child concludes, after his mother left his father.), were responsible for their ill-treatment. It's psychologically untenable, because this realization puts you beyond ever proving yourself now finally worthy of receiving their love.

The rich have their part to play in this completely unnecessary depression, and though we're going to hear just as much or more about the noble American suffering their way on through, they mostly won't be touched. Our narrative, our immature emotional needs, demand it.

Link: “Let them eat cake!”: the summer edition (Salon)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Superimposing another "fourth-wall" Deadpool

I'd like to superimpose the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool that I'd like to have seen in the movie. In my version, he'd break out of the action at some point to discuss with us the following:
1) He'd point out that all the trouble the movie goes to to ensure that the lead actress is never seen completely naked—no nipples shown—in this R-rated movie was done so that later when we suddenly see enough strippers' completely bared breasts that we feel that someone was making up for lost time, we feel that a special, strenuous effort has been made to keep her from a certain fate—one the R-rating would even seemed to have called for, necessitated, even, to properly feed the audience expecting something extra for the movie being more dependent on their ticket purchases. That is, protecting the lead actress was done to legitimize thinking of those left casually unprotected as different kinds of women—not as worthy, not as human.   


2) When Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are excha…

"The Zookeeper's Wife" as historical romance

A Polish zoologist and his wife maintain a zoo which is utopia, realized. The people who work there are blissfully satisfied and happy. The caged animals aren't distraught but rather, very satisfied. These animals have been very well attended to, and have developed so healthily for it that they almost seem proud to display what is distinctively excellent about them for viewers to enjoy. But there is a shadow coming--Nazis! The Nazis literally blow apart much of this happy configuration. Many of the animals die. But the zookeeper's wife is a prize any Nazi officer would covet, and the Nazi's chief zoologist is interested in claiming her for his own. So if there can be some pretence that would allow for her and her husband to keep their zoo in piece rather than be destroyed for war supplies, he's willing to concede it.

The zookeeper and his wife want to try and use their zoo to house as many Jews as they can. They approach the stately quarters of Hitler's zoologist …

Full conversation about "Bringing Up Baby" at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Richard Brody shared a link.Moderator · November 20 at 3:38pm I'm obsessed with Bringing Up Baby, which is on TCM at 6 PM (ET). It's the first film by Howard Hawks that I ever saw, and it opened up several universes to me, cinematic and otherwise. Here's the story. I was seventeen or eighteen; I had never heard of Hawks until I read Godard's enthusiastic mention of him in one of the early critical pieces in "Godard on Godard"—he called Hawks "the greatest American artist," and this piqued my curiosity. So, the next time I was in town (I… I was out of town at college for the most part), I went to see the first Hawks film playing in a revival house, which turned out to be "Bringing Up Baby." I certainly laughed a lot (and, at a few bits, uncontrollably), but that's not all there was to it. I had never read Freud, but I had heard of Freud, and when I saw "Bringing Up Baby," its realm of symbolism made instant sense; it was obviou…