Culture vulture

Generation of swine
Despite intermittent rants to the contrary, Culture Vulture really doesn’t see anything wrong with wealth—heck, we wish everyone was rich—but economic injustice really gets our goat.

Once in a while we get all fired up about how the educational system could illuminate the human condition in such a way that all necessity for either wealth or poverty would be eliminated by applying simple logic to making sure that every human being was provided with nutrition, knowledge, health care, employment, leisure and entertainment options best suited to their own well-being. It’s a cherished little pipe dream of ours, ridiculously naive to the point of being flat out silly, but, as our old pal John Lennon put it, “Whatever gets you through night, well it’s all right. Yeah, it’s all right.”

Then last evening I decided to check out an MTV reality show called My Super Sweet Sixteen or something like that. Holy fnarking fa-shizzle! This was the most soul-searing glimpse into the depths of the powers that generate hell on Earth that has ever met my morbidly fascinated eyes, at least since the time I actually sat through an entire episode of The Simple Life starring Paris Hilton and her aptly named sidekick, Nicole Richie. Sweet Sixteen was weirder and more horrific because the kids on this show aren’t even trying to be entertaining or witty or anything other than vacuously, unintelligently and most of all selfishly Rich with a capital R.

The premise of the show, such at it is, is that for each episode some fabulously wealthy kid of 15 will be followed by the MTV camera crew through the process of preparing for his or her—I’m not kidding—multi-hundred-thousand-dollar 16th birthday party.

And, yes, it’s just as hideously banal a depiction of everything that is wrong with our society as you could possibly imagine. Such as: parents trying to purchase their children’s affection and/or respect, and children trying to buy friendship and/or “popularity.” The fact that it actually seems to work for them, at least within the insular community of the ultra-privileged, is what really got to me. Orwell’s old saw, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” came to mind. And not in a particularly amusing or even helpful way.

So, if any reality-TV producers are reading this, Culture Vulture suggests that it would be good TV and an interesting experiment in social dynamics to make a random selection of almost-16-year-olds from across the economic and cultural spectrum and tell them they each have $450,000 that they could spend or disperse for their 16th birthdays. Wind ’em up and watch ’em go, I say. It would have to be more interesting than watching these poor, innocent rich kids wallowing in the gilded scum that rises to the top of society.

Ancient songs of wealth

1. “Piggies,” The Beatles

2. “Sympathy for the Devil,” Rolling Stones

3. “Summertime,” Janis Joplin

4. “Substitute,” The Who