In this week’s episode of The Cut podcast, Avery Trufelman explores our obsession with the filthy rich. Why do we envy them? Why do we sympathize with them? And when they are conspicuously tone-deaf, as during a global pandemic, why are we still interested in what they’re doing? Trufelman talks quarantine envy and our societal fascination with ostentatious affluence:
Evie Ebert, writer: “Of course I could be much worse off, but I was green with envy about people whose homes are much larger, who were living in better climates, maybe who had outdoor pools. And I had a real inclination to judge myself for becoming obsessed with who has it better basically. So I just was like, ‘No, this is part of my self-care practice: allowing myself to be annoyed by people.’”
Molly Young, New York Magazine literary critic: “Throughout history, rich people have always been offensive and insulting and funny and ridiculous and sort of worthy of mockery. I kept finding myself being drawn to stories and journal articles about the insane frivolous habits of wealthy people.”
Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians: “People from the beginning of time have been fascinated by the wealthy and the privileged. Looking at it from a literary standpoint … Machiavelli, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton. The list is long. And the mass public I think really enjoys reading about these people because I think it humanizes them.”
Nana Agyemang, CEO and founder of Every Stylish Girl: “We need to really start to normalize Black women showing off their kids, enjoying luxury, taking vacations, living the best life they can because we need to normalize Black success, Black wealth, Black happiness, Black joy.”
To hear more about quarantine envy and our perverse fascination with the rich, listen below, and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.