Since finally getting Digital TV I've noticed an explosion of "reality" programmes centreing around the lives ofthe rich and priveliged, mainly young American girls who want for nothing and spend all their lives shopping, partying, spending, and talking about nonsensical shite.
My mouth fell open at the weekend as I watched one girl ceelbrate her 16th birthday with her parents giving her a brand new white top of the range Landrover, plus a birthday party that included an Arabian Nights theme and a bevvy of male models for photoshoots - the bill for these gifts was $200,000. And it's only her 16th birthday?? What about her 18th, and 21st, are they going to be equally expensive affairs or do they have to be MORE expensive so they top the last one?!?!
Her dad said as he signed the bill "she's worth it". Holy Crap man, what kind of father are you?? What example are you setting your daughter, what has she to be ambitious about for her future life, apart from where to fly to in her Lear Jet to shop for shoes, or how to better her friends with the next big social event that costs $$$$$$. Another Rich Girl programme showed her attending an audition that mummy had arranged for her, for a stage musical. Fuck me she could NOT sing, I think the casting woman said she could simply because there was a camera in her face and mummy had probably bunged her $500 to say nice things about little Kristy.
I wonder if her father even encourages her to have a goal for her future other than spending his money - his money that may not be there next week or next year if business suddenly turns bad, or if his investment portfolio goes tits up or if he's caught out with a bad lawsuit. Then what will she do, how will she cope? And will her friends be there for her if she no longer has the money and needs REAL friends?
Another interesting programme that was on a while back was when a rich girl swapped places with a "normal girl", and the Rich Girl went to work every day for the minimum wage, lived in a "normal" family home, washed the dishes, and had to shop at Primark (she couldn't believe you could get trousers for £6), while the "normal" girl partied the night away on £200 bottles of champers, and shopped at Harvey Nicks. The reactions of the two girls to their new lives were interesting. The Rich Girl was hoplessley inadequate in all life skills and thoroughly intolerant of having to work every day, but she noticed the closeness of the family she was living with and compared it to her own family relationships and didn't like what she saw.... Meanwhile the poor girl was missing home, thinking her new life was repetitive and empty, and longing to get back to the grind.
All these wealthy children should be made to spend Christmas volunteering in an orphanage, an animal rescue centre, a homeless shelter, or a battered women's shelter, just to introduce them to the realities of real life and show them that their money that they throw around on their silly parties and their $1000 shoes could be used for the greater good and to make a difference in someone else's life. It would also keep their feet on the ground by showing them that life can turn bad for anybody at any time, regardless of their status, and you'd better be prepared and ready for it when it comes at you.
I'd love to take part in one of these Life Swap programmes simply to see whether suddenly having troughloads of money would make me look at life in a new perspective. Would I suddenly feel powerful and safe, and start spending like an idiot? Or would I argue with my New Rich Friends that they were idiots spending £200 on a bottle of booze that probably cost a tenner to buy at cost price, or spending £500 on a new top when H&M sell them for a more reasonable £25.
Having lived in the Real World all my life and seen the shit that goes on and how money can help somewhat to alleviate that shit for a lot of people, I would sleep better at night knowing that if I was going to throw away $100k, I'd rather do it for a good cause other than my own birthday party.
Programmes like this can have one of thre effects on teens who watch it - they will either be ambitious enough to think "I want to live like that" and get off their arses, work hard and go and get a fabulous career, or they will compare their lives with the Rich Girl lives and be despondent and depressed, cos they want that life but have no self belief that they can go and get it. Or they will react like I did, flinging cushions at the TV screen and screeching "you daft worthless empty headed spoiled little brat!"