How America’s celebrity obsession weakens the fight against inequality | Amy Chua

How America’s celebrity obsession weakens the fight against inequality | Amy Chua


Well, I happen to be a fan of democracy. I think it has flaws, but there was just no
other better system for one simple reason and that is: you can often get a beneficent
dictator. A lot of people think that Lee Kuan Yew in
Singapore was such a person. He was not corrupt. He actually alleviated a lot of the ethnic
conflict. But here’s the problem: You can never ensure
that the dictator will stay beneficent. The better thing about democracy is that,
eventually, you can vote them out. If you don’t like the policies, if you don’t
like the leaders, you can vote them out. So, on balance, I think that democracy is
the best system. What I think is wrong is that America treats
democracy like a panacea. We romanticize it. We think somehow that oh, there’s all this
civil war and tribalism and sectarian warfare there—let’s just have some elections! What they don’t realize is that in very
divided countries—ethnically divided, tribally divided—democracy can sometimes catalyze
group conflict rather than softening it. A lot of people have puzzled over how so many
blue-collar and working-class Americans could possibly have voted for a billionaire born
to wealth, born in Manhattan. But it’s actually not a puzzle at all. What a lot of working-class Americans resent
is the idea that there’s a rigged system. That there are these people—arrogant people—controlling
the levers of power from afar, somewhere in D.C. and on Wall Street and Silicon Valley. If you look at the surveys, Pew Foundation
studies, you find that most Americans, including working-class Americans, actually love capitalism. They don’t want socialism. They still want a system where if you can
work hard you can strike it rich, and they want it to be fine to be rich. Studies show that many working-class Americans
actually resent the professional elites more: the very polished, well-educated, snobby professors
and journalists and pundits speaking on TV, and that they don’t actually dislike the
Kardashians so much—or the billionaires that are jet-setting around. That’s why shows like ‘The Apprentice’ are
so popular. The Occupy movement did many important things,
highlighting the urgency of inequality in this country. But one problem with the Occupy movement is
that it was a movement that purported to want to help the poor that didn’t actually include
any members of the poor. It was, overwhelmingly, an extremely privileged
movement. Not necessarily wealthy, but highly educated
and largely from cosmopolitan, urban areas. And if you look at the interviews of people
from other parts of the country, working-class people, blue collar people, it’s not just
that they didn’t participate in these activist, anti-inequality movements. They actually were very suspicious of them,
and even a little scornful. The interviews have people saying, “Don’t
these people have jobs? Don’t they have to work? I’m working three jobs just to put food
on the table! How can they be marching and protesting all
the time?” Now that’s a little unfair because a lot
of these activist movements have done tremendous good, but it is also true that it is a privilege
to have the time to take off work and to do these things. So there’s a real schism in group identities. A lot of America’s elites, while they were
campaigning for Bernie or Hillary, didn’t really connect with so many of the lower income
Americans because, in part, they had a snobby view towards them. But the point is that a lot of America’s political
elites, the establishment elites, just really didn’t bother to get to understand the people
that supposedly they were trying to help. It’s amazing to contrast the Occupy movement
with the prosperity gospel. The irony is just glaring. So Occupy was a movement championing, supposedly,
the underclasses, but largely driven by elites. The prosperity gospel is a hugely popular
movement in America, one of the most powerful religious movements in the United States,
that is very largely populated by disadvantaged Americans—including our most disadvantaged
minorities. African Americans and Hispanic Americans are
flocking to the prosperity gospel. What is their creed? That God blesses the wealthy. That being rich is divine and that if you
pray for wealth hard enough, God will give it to you. And this contrast just shows the tribal chasm
between America’s haves and have-nots. You have people purporting to want to help
the other side and yet actually scorning the very movements that those people actually
belong to. We have a strange relationship with celebrity
culture in America. And in some ways, you could see the victory
of Donald Trump as Donald Trump tapping into this obsession with celebrities. It’s almost like he’s created a kind of
billionaire populism where he’s tapping into this desire for a lot of working-class
people to rise in a system where they can no longer rise—where there’s so much inequality
that they can’t just make it with hard work, and they romanticize that. They think, “You know what? If I go on American Idol or The Voice or Shark
Tank maybe I can hit it big.” And they actually glorify all the Desperate
Housewives or the Kardashians or the celebrity musicians and actresses. These are beloved figures. They’re not hated at all. It’s like the royal family in England. The desire for the American Dream is so powerful
that people will cling to it even when they have no chance. Even when the American Dream turns their backs
on people, mocks them. A lot of Americans would sooner turn on immigrants,
outsiders, even reason itself than turn on the American Dream. A lot of people think why is this happening
now, you know. What’s going on with our society? Well, it’s always been there. A lot of these issues have always been there. There have always been these male bosses that
have done these terrible things. So it’s not like it’s all happening now. It’s just that finally certain groups voices
are allowed to be heard. It’s the same with a lot of diversity issues,
you know. People will say, why now are there so many
minorities complaining on campuses or on this organization? It used to be so smooth. Things used to work so well. Well, that’s because so many voices used
to be suppressed. So, in a way, I think it’s healthy what’s
often experienced as turbulence and chaos—“oh my gosh, everything’s going haywire”—is
actually a healthy rising of certain voices that historically have not been allowed to
speak. And there are lots of different groups. It’s along all different kinds of lines—gender,
race, ethnicity—it’s everything.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

34 thoughts on “How America’s celebrity obsession weakens the fight against inequality | Amy Chua

  1. cartoon heavy she seems
    must be theurgy then i suspect
    not real magic but a start for the novice
    fuck barney the purple t-rex with a feeling
    i have more shits per day than his one feeling

  2. As a rural Occupy Activist who was unemployed for three years in that period, I would like to thank Amy Chua for pointing out how privileged I was to be unemployed to participate in the movement at that time. I am also Mexican American which makes me privileged enough to be incarcerated and shot to death by the police at higher rates than white people in this country.

  3. A friend that lived in a Hollywood celeb neighborhood once said:
    'They're your current neighbors with better paying jobs. That is all.'

  4. Democracy is deeply flawed as it is easily corruptible – and one of the factors that corrupt democracies is clebrity culture

  5. Because Clinton and Trump are both rich. And Trump has populist ideas.
    Striking rich through hard work is the American Dream.
    Americans hate the elite because it is an egalitarian society where everyone is equal vs Europe that is based on monarchy.
    Occupy Movement is against the excesses of Wall Street. Not against Wall Street per se.

  6. Lol you know the country is brainwashed when 'having to work' is acceptable and you look down on those trying to change their situations. Slavery 2.0.
    The fools remain divided over the most petty reasons giving them every opportunity to farm the peoples energies.

  7. Is it possible that we're hearing more of it now, because it's the popular thing or the politically beneficial thing to do ?

    this seems more likely.

  8. The working class didn't go to Trump, the rural working class did. There is a significant difference.

  9. Why are liberals obsessed with Hollywood celebrities? How can someone say they love Kim Kardashian then vote for Bernie?

  10. So it's dog eat dog. A self-destructive mentality that seems to be on the rise. I want mine,even if i have take it from some else and to hell with the results. And your working 3 jobs , ask yourself why. Sounds like a really stupid
    idea. Add to that a growing distrust of knowledge, because it conflicts with a narrow vision of the world and our place in it. This is a sign of social devolution.

  11. 1:50 uhh… sure… they want the system that has brought them to their knees and is pushing their face into the mud.
    I think this speaks to a deep flaw in both American "democracy" and the realities of capitalism.
    This chanel is declining. There's no point in big thoughts if they aren't also thorough and universally analyitical.
    Suffering less under capitalism does not a salibury steak make.

  12. Most Americans can't even spell socialism let alone define it. There is no true social democratic movement let alone power left in the USA, certainly not the Democrats. Most Americans don't even know where North Korea, Syria, Libya or Yemen are on a map but they want to bomb them ! There will be a civil war in the USA, the country is controlled by a global power wealthy elite who have no allegiance to America even if they do live there. Those that are effected the most have no idea, too distracted by superficial and contrived problems, fighting among one another or watching football. Good luck so many good people going down the toilet.

  13. – like sheeps to the slaughter hoping they will be the one that master like and will be let into the house

  14. Until 99% come down to a same page, we cannot overthrow capitalism. We are all surrounded with a lot of confusion and misunderstanding among ourselves that is hindering us from a successful revoultion.

  15. Take away God (and gods), and they are immediately replaced with celebrities. Carl Jung predicted this a century ago.

  16. She nails it! Democracy can be hijacked by oligarchs or the mob so sensible societies work on maintaining democracy and the most important factors is a society will common, core values that sustain democracy.

  17. She could've saved seven minutes and just told us "Americans are stupid and can get played out by their fears. That's never going to change. Get over it.".

  18. The American society in its final stage. Towards the end of great societies there are obsessions with single figures. The age of hyper indulgence or the obsession of hyper indulgence before the age of panic.

  19. Yet another explanation of why Donald Trump may not be the president we need, but he is assuredly the president we deserve.

  20. Isnt Amy Chua the woman who had a knock down fight w/her 14yr old daughter over practicing the violin

  21. What Americans don't understand is that Socialism is democracy and not everybody is paid the same. If you possess a skillset that is objectively valuable, you will get a better position and remuneration. However, the chance of striking it big through LUCK and CONNECTIONS is severely reduced. This is why many Americans fear Socialism because they know damn well that much of success is based on the class you are born into, luck, cronyism, nepotism and many other variables out of your control. I can pinpoint the exact luck based event in my life that took me from being a failure to being OK in life. I had nothing to do with this variable. Sure I can help to shape other aspects, but without this lucky event it would have never happened. For this very reason I can say my success was not based on hard work, but on timing and happenstance. I can admit it though.

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