Recently, almost every streaming service is being bombarded with movies and series depicting the “Eat the Rich” narrative, where wealthy and out-of-touch individuals get their comeuppance (or at the very least are depicted in a horrible light). This storyline is not necessarily new, but there is much more demand for it as the wealth gap grows wider. We are in a time where the lower class slide closer to the bottom and the middle class is ceasing to exist. The air is thick with resentment toward the wealthy, and producers and directors are doing their best to contribute to this atmosphere. The popularity of shows like “The White Lotus” and movies like “The Menu” are just two prime examples of how people love seeing rich people suffer.
As someone who is also struggling under the weight of late stage capitalism, I found these shows to be entertaining and cathartic in a way. I can only hope that in the future I can have some financial freedom, but more and more, we are seeing how the odds are stacked against us, especially among people of color. So, to see ignorant, and usually unlikeable, rich characters face some unfortunate but well-deserved suffering is something that feels nice for people like me. But, after watching all of these movies and shows, I thought about the feeling I would get after watching and the larger connotations of what was happening.
“Wait a minute, these people (i.e. actors, directors, producers) are all rich too!!”
First, let’s be honest: the shows do a good job of highlighting the main issues people have with the rich. For example, “The White Lotus” does a great job of unpacking the emotional scars felt by lower-class service workers when dealing with their wealthier counterparts. We see how rich people use money to replace empathy and how the poor are frequently used as a punching bag by the rich. The show addresses these issues in a brutal yet almost absurdist way that has resonated with many people, so much so that more seasons are being made. However, this brings me back to my earlier reservations about the influx of this type of media.
It may be nice to see the playing field leveled on screen, but in the end, it’s just on screen. There has been no shift in the wealth gap, and as the old saying goes, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” And no matter how right these movies and shows are about this injustice, there are still billionaires who barely contribute to making things equitable for everyone. The production companies that make billions of dollars a year are the same ones making these hard-hitting shows. It’s almost like a rich person waving their money around and telling us, “We understand your pain.” It’s insulting, at the very least.
So let me get this straight…
When wealthy people and corporations see the suffering of the lower class, instead of making systemic changes to help us, they’ll give us a cute little movie that makes us feel a little better. Then we go back to working for a barely livable wage, while those same people make more money from us?
Now, I know that this may seem like a bit of a reach, but when you think about it, it’s not a completely absurd line of thought. I think we can get so caught up in the compelling storyline that we forget about what really needs to be done. As I said, this type of media is fun to watch, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it. But remember, feelings alone will do nothing to change the reality we are in. Only action can do that, and as intimidating and even hopeless as it may seem, we need to get up and do something about this injustice in wealth. Use that feeling of resentment to fuel your voice and your hands. Educate yourself on the ways you help contribute to a more equitable society, I will too.
And we won’t be the only ones doing the work; these same corporations and rich people need to step up too. Obviously, they know that something is wrong (these shows are pretty accurate,) so they can start addressing the problem too. That doesn’t just mean throwing money at the nearest charity; it means funding policies that are working towards leveling the playing field. Help make things inclusive for everyone, regardless of economic status. Eating the rich is cool and all, but I want a world where everyone can get a decent meal and where “the rich” don’t exist, because by then we’ll know what inequality follows from that. And yeah, that may seem naive, but I think a lot of people are willing to work towards it.
Leave a Reply