Mr. Smith: Duchamp, the Big Glass and Chronic Illness
I was really disappointed to see that Beyonce took seven figures to perform for the Gadhafi clan and that she and her husband Jay-Z then partied with the dictator's family after the show. I wrote about it today for The Daily and pretty much make my case there.
Though I did feel a little limited in what I wanted to say. Columns have to be very focused and there's a bigger, tougher to grasp issue at play here that goes well beyond pop stars and right into the heart of polite society. For a brief while, my wife worked for a total Cruella D'Ville type. This woman is fabulously wealthy, she collects art and she has her business heart set on China. To achieve her aims there she has gone out in public and criticized the Dalai Lama and pretty much anyone who thinks that China should get out of Tibet. Basically, she's formed her political opinion around her desire for financial gain. Now I wouldn't exactly call this woman influential but she does have money and so she puts on gala award shows and gets actual world leaders and U.S. officials to show up so she has, by dint of her money, a greater voice than you or I do.
The problem, of course, is that rich people and politicians hang out together. It's not cheap to rent our Manhattan's Metropolitan Club and to serve endless drinks and a four course meal. Only the very wealthy can do that. Only the very wealthy can hire Beyonce to perform a private concert. But so long as these people are patronized in that way, then whatever they want to do or say is somehow validated.
Moamar Gadhafi's entire family participated in the economic rape of Libya's people. There's not doubt about that. But all of them go to St. Bart's to party and get in car chases in Europe and generally live the Paris Hilton high life wherever they go, as if they didn't do anything wrong. Why? Because of money.
We've made an aristocracy out of people who would torture and oppress others and it's okay because they have money. Beyonce and Jay-Z are just the tip of the iceberg. What Destor can say that maybe my other persona can't is that the world's wealthiest absolutely condone the worst sorts of thuggery and outright criminality. That tendency for the upper crust to stick together is the answer to Matt Taibbi's question: "Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?"