Why stories about rich and dirty people fascinate us

There is very little Succession The Roy family has in common with most people. Falcon business jets and vacation yachts? Not your average day. Or The white lotus guests on vacation at an exotic five-star resort; CFO Nicole Mossbacher’s ideas take place in an alternate world. Even the sprawling extravagance of Crazy Rich Asians does little to connect with the average viewer. You know, with the wedding at the Garden By the Bay in Singapore and everything.

Movies and shows have embraced the dirty rich saga as a regular offering. They present the lives of the 1% – a small number of people – whose greatness, indulgence and illusions are fully on display. These deaf, satirical tales of people worrying about sex scandals or mansion renovations are gripping television. It may have something to do with individual psychologies, consumer behavior, and, well, the attractiveness of money.

At some level, it’s the desire to see vulnerability on the screen. To take Succession Kendall Roy, the son under his father’s thumb. The German idea of ​​schadenfreude explains people’s love for seeing others fail, but the characters’ raw and human failures also help carve out a weak spot for themselves. “That vulnerability could serve to connect these characters to the audience, who think, ‘Okay, they make mistakes like me so I can be like them. It makes it easier to identify with the characters, ”Anthony Patino, associate professor of marketing at the University of San Francisco, told Refiner29. How much the “real” character influences how the viewer will feel connected; human shortcomings and shortcomings reaffirm the humanity of someone as Dynasty Fallon Carrington.

And by default I mean something as relatable as heartache or constantly disappointing your family. The irrelevant bets, scandals, dinners and politics can rightly be in the territory of the problems of the rich; yet, they still make a laundry list of the many traits that define humans. Connection is a form of “parasocial relationships,” a one-sided attachment with famous characters or people. “When we care about someone, even a celebrity, they feel like an extension of us. So the good things that happen to them are pleasant and the bad things that happen to them are unpleasant, ”Shira Gabriel, associate professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo in the United States, told HuffPost.

Wealth and drama stories further exploit this connection by showing rags to riches stories. Jay Gatsby, for example, comes from a poor farming family who find their way into the world of wealth and throw extravagant parties. The lament of Gatsby the magnificent is that of the power and powerlessness of money. He could buy yellow Jay Gatsby Rolls-Royces and some really nice shirts, but happiness and status are lacking. And the “rags” here don’t always have to do with poor backgrounds; the narrative arc can also be a psychological or emotional richness. We may find it gratifying to see Gossip Girl‘s Chuck Bass, who starts out as the conventional spoiled rich kid, gains a moral conscience as the series progresses.

“You can connect with the characters both on a personal level – you see they exhibit similar traits to you – and because you want to live your life as they live theirs,” Patino added. The aspiration aspect comes right after to further fuel this relationship. Any visualization of keeping up with the Kardashians involves marveling at the three acre property with two spas (because one is just awkward, you know) and a vineyard.


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Watching what people don’t have is cathartic. It gives a glimpse of what life might be like in a different reality. The sprawling houses, the luxury cars, the designer clothes are ambitious and give people something to look forward to. “The rich have more capacity to act,” Rachel Davis Mersey, journalism professor at Northwestern, told Highsnobiety. “If I’m rich and there’s a pothole outside my building, I might be more likely to know more about who to contact to fix it, and I can even socialize with it.” them. Celebrities are the go-to access, and everyone will answer their call. Some experts also believe that aspiration finds its root in a correlation (even if it is wrong). The idea is that people who choose between gold plated pizza or space travel should be happy. The aspiration for wealth becomes at the same time the aspiration for happiness.

At the same time, they offer psychological release for the average viewer. “I can put my problems and challenges aside for a moment to escape to an alternate world,” Mersey added.

The observation of hatred also borders on love and inspiration. “It comes down to a mixture of yearning and loathing,” noted Cristel Russel, a marketing expert. “We like to think that we can aspire to have enjoyable lifestyles… But we also hate those people who can afford and to some extent waste things and be so visible about it.” It also triggers negative beliefs about money; aphorisms like “money corrupts” or being born into a rich family makes you “aimless”.

Finally, the attraction and obsession with wealth can still serve to encourage this obsession. Social “courtesy” would make people believe that talking about money is taboo; financial situations or problems, or accepting the reality of what it takes to create a successful lifestyle is difficult, are conversations best swept under the rug. “Money is taboo, we are not supposed to talk about it. But what if these forms of entertainment force me and the person I’m sitting with to open the conversation? Explains financial therapist Sonya Britt-Lutter.

Who knew that the money, the illusion, and the drama would make for a gripping plot – a plot that might even be considered a dignified satire. From boastful ambition to emotional turmoil, there is a universality to which she clings.

“We’re not quite done with witnessing the absurdity of tropical Zoom reunions that interrupt vacations with China, sorry bracelets for cheating at $ 75,000 and swirling nuptial regrets paid in full,” Harper’s Bazaar said.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter if it’s fantasies, most of us will never know. As long as the people who live these fantasies are like us, the saga of the rich will pique our interest.

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