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Hypocrisies of the Rich and Famous

Updated on June 2, 2013
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The rich and famous are not like us. We live in a world in which we struggle to fit into society. No matter what our income, race or standing, most of us do anything to get along with others and find our place. We live with humility and treat each other as equal. The rich and famous on the other hand, seemed to live outside society. They live, as Jonah Goldberg said in his book, The Tyranny of Cliches, “on the same plateau as Japanese Emperors, Turkish Pashas and medieval kings”.

This is not a column about the “1 %”. Most of the successful businessmen and women on that high plateau make a lot of money but are not famous. No, this article is about the performers we admire. We see their TV shows and movies, buy their music, follow their every move on gossip sites and otherwise make them feel they are superior. And when they do something weird or say something that offends us, we deride them for being out of touch with us “normal people”.

Why do they act that way? The way we treat them, put them up on a pedestal and worship them may have a lot to do with it. If you were a singer and are used to coming out on stage to 15,000 people cheering and screaming your name, your ego would inflate to gigantic proportions (that would make anyone's ego grow huge.) And the money. Many performers earn more from a movie or a concert tour than many of us would earn in our entire working lives.

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Money

Having a lot of money means you have more control over your life. Many of the roadblocks that exist in life came be overcome if you have more income. That is why most of us “normal people” fight for the next promotion or pay raise. But no matter how hard we try or how successful we are, we still live the same life (just in a bigger house and car). The millions that performers earn can allow them to live at levels much higher than most of us and contribute to their big egos, their arrogance and sense of being “above it all”.

Although most pro athletes tend not to act like many of the performers I will detail below, they can make obscene amounts of money. That can be problematic. They are young and have never been rich before. Indeed many have never had any money. Without guidence, they can blow the stash on partying, autos, homes, electronics and other material goods. They are also targets for hangers on, con men and other various types of grifters. Sports history is littered with athletes that were rich in their twenties and thirties and broke by the time they reached their forties.


One of the reasons that many athletes may have financial problems in later years is that they are too immature when they make their millions. Great athletes are nurtured and shielded from their early teens. They are told how great they are early on. When they sign their first contract for millions, they go out and spend it on a lifestyle and material goods. Anything they want, they can buy. The non athlete gets a large dose of humility when they leave school and take that first job at $40,000 a year. He or she realizes from the start that that they can't get everything, so they prioritize what they need and learn to manage their money. That is something the athlete does not necessarily learn and may find himself having to learn this in his forties (when the monstrous salaries stop) what most people learn in their early twenties.

One can raise the point that that athletes and performers are overpaid in relation to others. Which is more valuable in our society? A power hitting 3rd baseman or a teacher? A quick point guard with a deadly 3 point shot or a heart surgeon? An Oscar nominated actress or a policeman? It's obvious that the teacher, cop and the surgeon are more important to our well being, but they don't ply their trade in front of millions of fans who pay a lot to see them perform. That's why an award winning heart surgeon makes less money than a second string shortstop. It doesn't seem right but that's the way it is in our society

HOLLYWOOD AND THE PERFORMING ARTS

While it is true that many high paid athletes can have huge egos, they don't seem to isolate themselves from society as performers do, Performers are strange. Many times their actions are so far out of the ordinary. ( I wrote in an earlier Hub about the strange actions of two young stars. I could write a Hub like that at least twice a month detailing the strange habits of the stars and never run out of material.)

Hollywood Superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Hollywood Superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie | Source

It is no wonder that successful actors and performers are so isolated. They are showered with attention from the public and earn millions. Add the fact that the acting trade is nothing more than dressing up and playing make believe (an action that most of us gave up in childhood) and we can get a clue about what makes them tick. A normal person knows who they are. They get up in the morning, go to work and come home, all as the same person. An actor can spend 10-12 hours a day, working hard trying to be someone different from who they are. I'm not a psycholgist but I can see how this could warp anyone's sense of identity after a while.

But most of the stars idiosyncracies can seem harmless (but I imagine if your job is to work with them, they can seem quite annoying). Mariah Carey's entourage must remove all picture of rival divas everywhere she goes as not to offend Ms Cary. Sly Stallone once delayed an interview until the interview room was painted in a color he liked. Jennifer Lopez' people are the only ones who can look her in the eye, lest we see her “soul”. Stars like Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can adopt third world children. No doubt these children are better off living with the stars, but I wonder how much attention they get from them. (except for photo shoots) The stars have huge staffs to take care of the children's needs. Madonna once joked that she had never changed a diaper. I can safely assume the same for Pitt and Jolie.

While most idiosyncrasies can be harmless, when they affect the people around them, they can become damaging. Hollywood history is full of stories of pampered and spoiled stars who threatened to shut down a production (and put hundreds out of work) because they felt something was wrong, they were insulted, not enough respect was shown for them or their needs weren't being met. As an example, during the shooting of the comedy “Wayne's World” actor Mike Meyers threatened to quit one morning because there was no margarine for his bagel. One can only assume that the level headed people who ran the production made sure that Mr. Myers had his margarine every morning after that. The fact that Meyers was willing shut down a production, put people out of work and waste millions of dollars for a seemingly inconsequential incident shows how selfish and out of touch he was.

Horror stories about how awful actress/singer/diva Barbra Streisand treats those who work for her are legendary. In his book “Do As I Say (Not As I Do) , author Peter Schweizer tells a story about a cake baked for Ms Streisand for her birthday. Barbra found the icing hard and ordered the cook to replace the frosting. When the cook said it could not be done. Streisand and her husband, Jon Peters became enraged. Peters pushed the cook against a sink causing serious injury. The cook sued and the case was settled out of court.

Streisand, who makes tens of millions a year and gives big donations to charity, is very miserly to her help. A gardener who worked at the diva's Malibu ranch and hadn't been paid in months went to Streisand's home to complain. He was driven off the property by a revolver. Over the years many contractors had to put liens on her home in order to get paid.

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand | Source

What is ironic about about incidents like these is Streisand is very active in left wing politics. In fact she is one of the most outspoken in Hollywood. She supports many causes which she claims will help the working man, yet she can be cheap with the people who work for her. She supports these causes so vehemently when it's other people who have to bear the burden, yet she refuses to practice what she preaches. She has supported raising the minimum wage and rights for illegal aliens, yet Schweizer tells the story of the hiring of several illegal Mexican aliens to do a job for her. She paid them $3.25 an hour and when they wanted more for overtime, the diva had an assistant fire them. These hypocrisies show how out of touch she can be and how above it all she thinks she is. The tragic part of this is that it is likely she has no idea how different she is to the vast majority of society.

Streisand is by no means the only one out there who is out of touch. Hollywood is a vast cesspool of hypocrisy. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” seems to be the mantra out there. The entertainment industry is full of stars who preach environmental consciousness tet drive around in gas guzzling SUVs and private jets. Or preach diversity, yet hire few minorities. But what is most annoying is when a performer reveals his latest cause or position. Just because they may be a great performer, they feel as if their opinions are important and they must share them.

Then why do we care? Why don't we shut these people out of our lives, and pay attention to more important things? Frankly, because it is amusing. I've never heard a Barbra Streisand song that I liked nor have seen any one of her movies that I thought was better than average. Yet I am amused by stories of her hypocrisy. I am not alone in enjoying seeing the weird person behind the star. Gossip websites, tv show and magazines are flourishing because people what to see these stories.

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