The strange catharsis of seeing rich people fail

For as long as there has been money, there have been those who have more money than everybody else. As long as there has been a divide between the rich and the poor, many us have taken pleasure in seeing rich people fall flat on their asses. Human culture is replete with tales of people who have it all taking a hubristic misstep, and losing their fortune. This happens in several works of fiction, but nowadays is most prominent in films and TV.

I think I might have an interpretation on why this is the case. For every rich person out there, there’s probably millions of people of worse off who are jealous of the wealth and status the rich man enjoys. To keep the poor distracted and content with their rut, the media provides the fantasy of rich people either losing all they’ve got or being totally unlikable. This is usually coupled with the lie that money can’t buy you real happiness.


Because who in the real world has ever been sad with a pile of money.

The old saying that money can’t buy happiness is an obvious oxymoron. How can money not buy you happiness if you could afford your way out of poverty? What’s so great about poverty anyway? When you’re poor, you can’t afford anything that you actually want, and are doomed to using cheap, inferior products, all while you’re surrounded by advertisements of products you can’t even afford.

Suffice it to say, I think rich people are very happy, but the problem is that most of us are convinced that money can’t buy happiness or love because that’s what decades of sermonizing from the mass media have taught us. In a way, decades of films and TV shows have taught the masses to tolerate the huge wealth gap between the rich and the poor. It’s no wonder that many of us still love to see rich people fail. We’re essentially trapped in a state of wealth disparity, which in the Western world is sustained by years of media brainwashing telling us that “money can’t buy happiness”.

This is why many of us tend to follow the lives of rich celebrities, because most us like to see them fall apart. To satiate that desire, the media gives us tabloid newspapers, gossip magazines, and reality TV, all of which are poison for the mind, as is the lie that money doesn’t make you any happier. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before mankind weans itself off what it’s been taught for so long, and Hollywood seems less than interested in speeding up the process. To my understanding, people will continue to envy those who have more for as long as there is a wealth gap, which it seems we’re taking forever to bridge.


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