Disneyworld Line-Cutting Rich Manhattan Moms: 21st-Century Pictures of Dorian Gray
I was going to write about this yesterday, but for many hours I was convinced that it had to be an Onion article, or a social-anthropological experiment designed by an ambitious graduate student. But, as I’ve written before, parody is endangered in an unhinged culture where anything that you can imagine as parody has already been proposed as reality somewhere else.
The New York Post reported yesterday that “wealthy Manhattan moms” hire disabled people to pretend to be part of their family at Disneyworld, so that their children can cut in line and get quick, special access to the rides. Social anthropologist Wednesday Martin learned of this scheme while researching a book, “Primates of Park Ave.”
Like the KKK and other subcultures with their own deranged worldviews, the rich of Park Ave. thrive on flashing their status-conferring, in-group privilege among themselves. For some parents, children are mostly lifestyle props and narcissistic investments, anyway, through whom they display their affluence, power, and influence.
Meanwhile the rest of us are doing this heavy lifting with our children. We’re trying to teach them to treat people equally and decently, to wait in line for their turn, to follow the rules, to be ethical, to respect fair play and competition, to have values other than instant gratification, the abuse of privilege, pleasure, greed, and selfishness. But apparently line-butting Manhattan moms don’t do that parenting work anymore.
Indeed, the celebration of line-cutting, rule-breaking, and unbridled class privilege at a ride at Disneyworld pretty much encapsulates in one small gesture much of the soul sickness and moral vulgarity of the 21st century—its hard greed, cruelty, valorization of selfishness, and social unraveling.
First it’s Mickey Mouse, then it’s Bernie Madoff; first it’s Disneyworld, then Wall Street.
What’s happened to our rich?
There was a time in the U.S. when inter-generationally privileged WASP families at least—at least—believed in a noblesse oblige to assume “leadership” in society. Yes, of course: that mission was patronizing, sometimes lethal for the non-rich, and condescending. But it goaded rich people to think that with great privilege came responsibility. At least they believed that they belonged to society. George Bush, Sr., is probably the best example. You don’t get the sense that Bush really burned with ambition to be president (remember his watch-glancing “tell” during the debate?), but he did it because it was expected of his class. Franklin Roosevelt, the “traitor to his class,” is another example.
There have always been rich people who were as morally bankrupt as they were financially wealthy. Some of them got rich through moral bankruptcy. But I find myself almost nostalgic for the WASP class of the hyper-privileged who felt that they had to be humble, somewhat socially engaged, and at least superficially obedient to the same rules as the rest of us, as a point of good manners if nothing else.
Instead, Americans who make reasonable arguments against corporate welfare and corporate socialism in the form of bailouts, tax evasion by the wealthy, tax laws that privilege investment over labor, a starker income inequality than ever, Citizens United, the trashing of unions, and austerity are accused of being envious or engaging in “class warfare” or discrimination. In response, rather than exercise leadership and humility about privilege, the 1% finds a way to whine and wheedle itself indignantly into the tent of “Victimization” by complaining that they’re being wrongfully maligned or discriminated against by people who criticize structural sources of inequality and cheating.
Bring it on, please, if by “class warfare” you mean that we insist on chants democratic about how the privileges and rights of living in America cannot entirely go to the already-wealthy, but must instead offer fair play and a chance at a hard-earned decent life for everyone. Personally, I live a nice parenting life of relative prosperity, interesting work, and friends, so it’s not envy that fuels the anger. It’s injustice.
By an accident of birth these children have had their innately good and decent moral instincts stunted by small but cumulatively devastating parental lessons, each day, in materialism, greed, and selfishness, that the only thing that matters is their own pleasure, that the rules don’t apply to them, and that fair play and hard work are meaningless. There is a fair amount of hand-wringing and judgment about how extreme poverty corrodes moral sensibilities and encourages drug dealing or crime, but at the other economic extreme, the same damage gets done, from opposite circumstances. Have a mom demonstrate selfishness and privilege, and butt in front of people enough times, and her children learn, just as some poor children do, that society doesn’t apply to them, the rules are moot, and that all of it can and must be gamed. The rich Manhattan mom, however, has no excuse, certainly not poverty or desperation, to explain her moral failure. Just venality.
Line-butting Manhattan mom, you are a 21st-century Dorian Gray. I wish you a crash down to earth:
Speaking of privilege and heartlessness…Here’s a wonderful follow-up to Abercrombie and Fitch’s stance that they won’t make clothes for non-skinny girls because they want to maintain their “cool” image, in which coolness correlates with skinniness (not). Huffington Post shares this video of Greg Karber donating Fitch clothing purchased from the “douchebag section” of his local thrift store to homeless people. I wish I’d thought of that.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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