Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Venality Genre

If reality television has taught us anything it’s that rich people are stupider than we are. Beverly Hills is clearly something like a cross between Ancient Rome and a sorority kegger, and we jaundiced viewers are given the no-longer-rare opportunity to chuckle at the fact that our aristocracy is now largely composed of doped-up, botoxed, bulimic, lazy white trash. Juicy Couture Uber Alles, Vegas Brahmin, etc. etc.

A growing number of writers have worked in what one could call the venality genre- they do humiliating jobs for rich people and then write amusing stories about how humiliating those jobs were. In the first and second acts, the would-be gilded attempt to rub off gilt from those who have it in abundance. Inevitably, in the third act, they quit the humiliating job, and it’s often impossible to tell if they did so because they discovered their conscience, or felt that, as a whore, they should be treated with more respect. The venality genre is an offshoot of the Confession genre; but seemingly lacks the element of insight or reflection. Given that rich people have apparently given up on even the most basic forms of independence, and young middle class kids are willing to do anything to be close to notabilities, I’d imagine that we’ll eventually see sitting on bookshelves: “Toilet Assistant, Beverly Hills: I Wiped the World.”

Here’s a Newsweek article that tells us nothing we couldn’t have guessed: dumb rich kids pay companies to do their schoolwork for them. The plucky young author did said schoolwork for a few years, and then left to write about it for Newsweek. Did she feel guilty about committing fraud? Clearly so. Did she feel like she was treated with too little respect, as a whore? Probably. Her morals put her writing a bit above the pack. In the venality genre it’s usually hard to tell if the writers are confessing in order to clear their conscience about toadying, or if they toadied so that they’d have something to confess to an audience that is clearly fascinated by watching others debased. But it's just not thrilling writing. I’d rather read about heroes than whores.

No comments: