Forgivable wealth
Posted by aogMonday, 02 July 2007 at 15:43 TrackBack Ping URL

I was thinking about wealth and wealthy people and the odd fact that people who get wealthy from business tend to be reviled, while multi-millionaire entertainers get a free pass to be as obnoxiously rich as they want. The current Live Earth concert is an excellent case in point, where the entertainers get to enjoy a massively lavish experience while promoting the idea that everyone else should tighten up. It’s not that they do this, it’s that they get away with it. Why?

I wonder if it’s not because being a successful entertainer seems more difficult to most people, based on personal experience. Not that many people run businesses, but most people have tried performing in sports or other forms of entertainment and have a better grasp of the difficulty of being good enough to make large sums of money.

An alternative explanation is the connection between the entertains actions and the benefits thereof is much clearer. A Streisand fan knows exactly why he’s willing to give money to her, but the average business mogul? That’s not so clear.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Bret Monday, 02 July 2007 at 16:54

I think it’s the personal versus the impersonal (your alternative explanation) and the characterization of entertainers and business people in the media. People know why Streisand’s rich. They know what she did to make her money (you know, sleep around with a few movie and recording execs, and hey, then your rich).

On the other hand, people have no idea why a particular business mogul is rich. Did he ruthlessly steal people’s pensions? Did he bribe congressmen to get unfair advantages? Did he abuse his monopoly position causing thousands of poor to starve? Did he sell weapons and drugs to 3rd world countries? Who knows? But according to the popular media, it’s got to be something like that or something else that’s at least as horrific.

Terry Monday, 02 July 2007 at 20:02

Nice analysis but it’s just not that complicated. People give rich celebrities a pass because they don’t think logically or rationally. People idolize celebrity; they want to BE FAMOUS. The average Joe (or Jane) maps an idealized aura onto these people, for reasons I have never understood.

But business people don’t have that aura, so all is left is their envy. They are taught early that businesses “steal” their wealth from the people and that profits are bad. Never a thought goes into the fact that their own jobs and livelyhoods stem from this process. That would take rational thought. No, all that’s left is “rich people who hoard their undeserved wealth”.

A rock star can fly a helicopter to a “save the earth” gig to din of screaming fans and ask those very fans to cough up even more money than the tickets they bought for a cause and be revered. No one even bothering to ask how deep the star himself digs into his own pockets.

Entropy House Rules :)

Andrea Harris Monday, 02 July 2007 at 20:17

Hm. I think that even Terry’s analysis is more complicated than the subject deserves. It’s even simpler than that: entertainers represent fun, business moguls represent work. Right now we worship the great god FUN more than anything else in this country. Who likes to work, really? (More people than you think, actually, but even the workaholics respect entertainers and other people who give them FUN stuff more than other workaholics.)

Let’s face it, business moguls are no fun. They are usually not very good looking, and many have the personalities of damp rags (see Donald Trump). They don’t bother telling you how wonderful you are, thank you so much wonderful people of (insert city or town) for inviting me here let me sing for you. They just want you to work so they can make money. You can make money too, which you will go spend on FUN. And you will hate the person who made it possible for you to make the money you had to spend on FUN, and you will love the person who took the money and gave you nothing except a transitory good time, which put no food in your mouth or clothes on your back (except for a concert t-shirt, which will fade and shrink after three washings).

erp Tuesday, 03 July 2007 at 10:11

It might be even simpler than that. From toddler up kids are introduced to “Fun.” It’s “Fun with Numbers,” Fun with Words,” Fun with Quadratic Equations,” …

Singing, dancing, throwing a ball or playing the kazoo looks like fun, like something anybody can do, while medicine, science, finance, business or running the local waterworks doesn’t look like fun. Anyone can’t do it. It isn’t easy, it’s hard, requires specialized knowledge that takes years to learn and many more years to master and the people who do it are mainly serious, not madcap material for magazine covers.

Entertainers and athletes also work very hard perfecting their craft, but to the unwashed who worship them, even that looks like fun.

Post a comment