Monday, November 24, 2003

Happy not to have Tried

This weekends Frank Rich column, When You Got It, Flaunt It, tackles something I had wanted to tackle a week or so ago: namely the way we look at and see the culture of rich in this country, how this might be changing, and what that might mean. I couldn't get comfortable with an angle to voice myself, so I didn't. Now, along comes Rich's column hitting all the notes just so.

Coarse? Usually. Silly? Always. But the zeal with which all four rich girls throw themselves into their shows may be some kind of breakthrough - a step toward candor in our national non-conversation about wealth. They are not pretending to be what they're not. They've got it, God knows, and no one's going to stop them from flaunting it. This guilt-free hedonism is a refreshing break from the norm in our post-bubble culture, where faux populism has become de rigueur among the wealthy in the public eye. We are awash in ambitious rich people, from the political arena on down, who play up their humble roots and down-home habits, however few or fictional in reality, to sell us products or themselves.

It is essentially this admission on display, that the rich do not live like the rest of us, which is newly visible. Their lives are a fundamentally different experience in every way. Their lives are real life soap operas played out with live emotional ammunition and ultimately real consequences. But the experience is no more relevant to your life than the trials of "insert your Soap Opera town here." Except they occupy the heights of government and business. And that, as Rich points out, just isn't funny.

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