Sometimes reality TV can be simply silly. A diversion of no consequence. History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers” or “Axe Men” fall into that category. Shows of interest mainly to a male audience, that has entertainment value only. No lasting cultural consequence like E! Network’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (feeding the princess fantasy by pushing the spoiled brat becomes the girlfriend of a wealth/famous Black athlete). Or “Teen Mom” on MTV, which has normalized (by making famous “stars” out of its participants) and encouraged teen pregnancy. But likely most important of all, is HGTV’s “Selling New York.” Which shows just how different the uber-rich really are. And how, well shockingly gay and female the spheres they inhabit really are, compared to that of ordinary people. Since the uber-rich shape the culture, through their immense wealth and power, this is important.
“Selling New York” follows (this season) three different real estate brokerages, focused on high-end real estate that only the super-rich can afford. What immediately strikes everyone is how, well gay the men seem. Absent the pater-familias of one agency (the Kleiers) who is apparently not allowed near the clients, focusing on finances, and management, there doesn’t seem one normal, straight guy in sight. The women all seem shallow, brittle, immensely uptight and nervous. While the men seem just on the verge of losing it, both sexes coming off as immense phonies constantly afraid they will be found out. Everyone seems profoundly uncomfortable in their own skin (in a Nixon, walking the beach at San Clemente in a three piece suit and dress shoes way).
Everyone is focused on appearances and status-jockeying. No one really makes any real contribution to much of anything, other than salesmanship. All the people, men and women both, are utterly replaceable absent personal relationships with clients, and it is likely they know it, hence the gnawing anxiety.
The only likable client from the first season was the hair dresser making millions (an immigrant) who exuded calm self-confidence and common sense. Though eventually humoring his wife who wanted to build out a shell of an apartment, he figured if you paid millions of dollars, you might as well buy something already done and just move in. Seeing as he had both a business to run and three kids, that attitude made sense. Every other client exuded an attitude that stank, right there on screen. That they were indeed, better than everyone else, and god’s own gift to mankind. Arrogance mixed with status-seeking seemed the order of the day.
And this attitude is everywhere in the US and global elites.
The Atlantic has a new article on the global elites. In it, this gem is written:
If you are looking for the date when America’s plutocracy had its coming-out party, you could do worse than choose June 21, 2007. On that day, the private-equity behemoth Blackstone priced the largest initial public offering in the United States since 2002, raising $4 billion and creating a publicly held company worth $31 billion at the time. Stephen Schwarzman, one of the firm’s two co-founders, came away with a personal stake worth almost $8 billion, along with $677 million in cash; the other, Peter Peterson, cashed a check for $1.88 billion and retired.
In the sort of coincidence that delights historians, conspiracy theorists, and book publishers, June 21 also happened to be the day Peterson threw a party—at Manhattan’s Four Seasons restaurant, of course—to launch The Manny, the debut novel of his daughter, Holly, who lightly satirizes the lives and loves of financiers and their wives on the Upper East Side. The best seller fits neatly into the genre of modern “mommy lit”—USA Today advised readers to take it to the beach—but the author told me that she was inspired to write it in part by her belief that “people have no clue about how much money there is in this town.”
Holly Peterson and I spoke several times about how the super-affluence of recent years has changed the meaning of wealth. “There’s so much money on the Upper East Side right now,” she said. “If you look at the original movie Wall Street, it was a phenomenon where there were men in their 30s and 40s making $2 and $3 million a year, and that was disgusting. But then you had the Internet age, and then globalization, and you had people in their 30s, through hedge funds and Goldman Sachs partner jobs, who were making $20, $30, $40 million a year. And there were a lot of them doing it. I think people making $5 million to $10 million definitely don’t think they are making enough money.”
As an example, she described a conversation with a couple at a Manhattan dinner party: “They started saying, ‘If you’re going to buy all this stuff, life starts getting really expensive. If you’re going to do the NetJet thing’”—this is a service offering “fractional aircraft ownership” for those who do not wish to buy outright—“‘and if you’re going to have four houses, and you’re going to run the four houses, it’s like you start spending some money.’”
The clincher, Peterson says, came from the wife: “She turns to me and she goes, ‘You know, the thing about 20’”—by this, she meant $20 million a year—“‘is 20 is only 10 after taxes.’ And everyone at the table is nodding.”
The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter. “His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.
I heard a similar sentiment from the Taiwanese-born, 30-something CFO of a U.S. Internet company. A gentle, unpretentious man who went from public school to Harvard, he’s nonetheless not terribly sympathetic to the complaints of the American middle class. “We demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world,” he told me. “So if you’re going to demand 10 times the paycheck, you need to deliver 10 times the value. It sounds harsh, but maybe people in the middle class need to decide to take a pay cut.”
This is indeed the attitude of the global elite. But it is also, very gay, and very female-oriented. With all that money, chasing ever higher status, status seeking itself finds massive inflation. With elites no longer even caring about their nation, or their fellow nationals (indeed contemptuous dismissal of America is the norm), this attitude percolates downward from the new hyper-global hyper-rich hyper-elites.
America does indeed have an aristocracy. Not one of ancient families seeking ancient, feudal rights, but a recent one, no more in many cases than twenty years old, and international in allegiance. More akin to princes of the Catholic Church than anything else. Seeking not just temporal wealth, but spiritual dominion over the globe. Thus telling everyone how to live, what religion to worship, and what the rites are. The arrogance of a foreigner, a man not really American (foreign born) telling Middle Class Americans to take a pay-cut is astonishing. Yet there it is, and the attitude could certainly be replicated by any of the clients or brokers featured in “Selling New York.”
What makes this toxic, is that this attitude is often aped, in the White Female College Educated class. The sorts of folks who read the New York Times, or New Yorker, or even (yes) the Atlantic, along with Vanity Fair, in an attempt to find out what the “important people” are thinking, saying, and doing. If Blue collar and lowbrow women are the targets of US Weekly, People, the National Enquirer, and Star Magazine, then the New York Times and New Yorker are aimed squarely at the White College Educated female reader.
You’ll see the same dismissive attitude towards America, Americans, and the middle class in all sorts of entertainment aimed squarely at this upscale female demographic. Don’t believe me? Watch any of these NBC shows: Chase, the Event, Law and Order Los Angeles, or Special Victims Unit. Cable shows like Nurse Jackie, Californication, Damages, and Mad Men certainly exhibit this same attitude. As does, of course, Fox’s Glee, and almost anything on the CW (teen girl only) network. Movies made by and for this demographic, including Green Zone, Towelhead, American Beauty, Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, and Scott Pilgrim vs the World fall into the same attitudes.
Its not that every TV show or movie needs to be a “salt of the earth” worshipping Grapes of Wrath update. Rather, that the arrogant dismissal of all forms of national sentiment, attachment, or even concern for the American middle class is self-evident over and over again. The White middle class suburb is even depicted as hell on earth (for those tragically hip elites making do on only $20 million a year, it must be).
At least part of the solution must be Nationalism and populism, combined, to smash down this attitude. To intimidate, as much as possible, even the thinking of such sentiments. To suppress their spread from the global elites to those who follow them most closely: White college educated women.
Because make no mistake, the key battle for America will be fought in the minds of college educated female White professionals. They are the key, swing vote for victory or defeat in the alliance of the Democrats and Obama. Possession of nearly all of them gives forces aligned against Obama, Democrats, and the global elites at least the possibility of victory. If even a significant portion of college educated, White professional women hold to the attitudes of the global elites, then the global elites win. Get to hollow out America, in pursuit of greater wealth and more important to them, more status. Posturing as the great philanthropists (and anti-White anti-Racists) by discriminating against the “average White guy” as Ace of Ace of Spades noted, the pursuit of status by the Liberal Aristocracy is characterized by ever greater amounts of money chasing status. Hence the Gates Foundation, explicitly excluding White kids from any aid. While Gates pours money into Africa (to demonstrate his nobility). As Ace notes, a great deal of this pours out of the media, which tends to form the opinions particularly of the White female college educated professional, due to their status anxiety and low position of the PC driven caste system.
The media cannot be changed. They will always be hyper-liberal, because they aspire to please the global elite, their prospective employers, patrons, and backers. The media can be intimidated, however, by populist and nationalist anger. Nationalism has to be part of the equation, as well as populism, and enemies of both need to be made explicit examples of. By being given, of course, the full Wikileaks treatment. There are few media figures, whose personal failings, flaws, and family histories can survive unshaken, the unblinking eye of full disclosure and examination. Destroy a few, say a Katie Couric here, to the point where they are no longer welcome at Davos, and the point is made.
Otherwise it will be a “Selling New York” world. Where everyone is frantically nervous, desperate to appease the new global elites. Who rule with a nasty, celebrity-derived touch.