One of my close friends pointed out when I began to write this series that I wouldn't have the opportunity to explore a freelance writing career if I weren't able to take risks with my own earnings. And she's completely right. Bitch is wonderful, but as an independent, nonprofit publication, blogging for them doesn't exactly pull in large amounts. If I had a family dependent upon my wages, I would have found a more traditional academic or salaried nonprofit job that allowed me to have a reliable income, but I probably wouldn't have had time to write this series for this audience. At least in part, my current class privilege is what allows me to write about class privilege.
The Republican presidential candidates deservedly get a good amount of critical coverage due to the homophobic, racist, and misogynistic rhetoric that they seem to spout at every campaign stop. This election, though, is one of the first times in my memory that the candidates' classism and profound oblivion regarding their own privilege have really taken center stage. While I'm sure there will be more gaffes to come, I'm wrapping up this series this week, and I thought a roundup of the more classist political soundbites might be a good parting gift.
You might be thinking about the price of diapers, health insurance, or preschool programs when trying to work out a rough answer. But don't forget the $230 silver ballet shoes that your five year old will grow out of in a few months, or the $56 baby blanket, or the $500 bassinet.
Harry and Katniss are very different heroes because they live in very different worlds. But if I had to guess whether most people felt their world more closely resembled the private boarding school with clear-cut lines between good and evil, or the dystopic district with frustrated and struggling neighbors, I'd say there's a real reason Katniss's mythology has captured audiences as thoroughly as Harry did in his more prosperous heyday.
In Harry Potter, then, social class is a way of telling us something about the characters more than the actual lived reality or a source of conflict that it becomes in The Hunger Games. This is because in the wizarding world, power doesn't come just come from money and other forms of social privilege, power comes from magic—and it seems that magic is quite an equalizer.
The bigger farce, though, is Mitt Romney—the richest candidate in a decade, and the richest plausible candidate in far longer—claiming the President's policies are class warfare. It's almost as laughable as Romney referring to Newt Gingrich as "a wealthy man… not a middle-class American" as a criticism. Sure, Newt isn't a middle-class American. None of the candidates are. But, you know what Mitt? You have $250 million dollars. You're not even the middle of the top one percent.
In the past few years, being broke has become something of a communal experience in America, to the point that television can no longer just air constant streaming coverage of millionaires and their matchmakers, their real housewives, their stylists, their babies, and their real estate, without seeming completely out of touch. Network television's response to the financial crisis is CBS's 2 Broke Girls.
A very special thank you to the Countess LuAnn of the Real Housewives of New York for supplying the title to today's post. I doubt this is what the Countess was going for, but she brings up a good point: what's the difference between having money and having class privilege? Is there one anymore?
I've got 99 problems with American television, and the rich are one. We have lots of shows about rich people—in fact, we love shows about rich people. With Gossip Girl, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Revenge, Real Housewives of _______, Pregnant in Heels, and even the beloved returning Arrested Development (along with many others), the wealthy control about as much of the TV lineup as they do they the net worth of the United States, and the rest of America watches to see how they scheme, how they dress, how they find love, how they have babies, and—usually—how awful they are.