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More than 200 celebrities, scientists and Nobel Prize winners have signed an open letter rejecting the idea that things should “go back to normal” after the coronavirus pandemic ends – arguing that we must, instead, stop “the pursuit of consumerism.”
Now, to be clear, I’m not attacking them for their success – or even for them enjoying it with lavish lifestyles. What I am saying, however, is that I can’t help but be irked by the unconscionable lack of awareness you’d have to have in order to sign something like this while you’re sitting in an extravagant home surrounded by servants.
After all, if any of the super-wealthy people who signed this letter had any real interest in stopping the “pursuit of consumerism,” they would certainly have started with taking a look at their own habits in that area.
The letter, which was published in the French publication Le Monde on Wednesday, states, in part:
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“The pursuit of consumerism and an obsession with productivity have led us to deny the value of life itself: that of plants, that of animals, and that of a great number of human beings. Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our remaining natural zones has brought the world to a breaking point.”
Many of these people – such as Madonna, Robert De Niro, Iggy Pop, Christian Louboutin, Penelope Cruz and Jane Fonda, to name a few – are incredibly rich and famous.
Madonna, for example, is actually totally free to sell her multimillion-dollar mansion in Lisbon and give all of the cash to Greenpeace if she wanted to. No one is stopping her – and actually, with a net worth that Forbes estimated at $570 million in 2019, she could probably part with a lot of her assets and still live far more comfortably than the vast, vast majority of us could ever even imagine.
Their money doesn’t bother me and neither does their fame. What does bother me, though, is the hypocritical virtue-signaling they all displayed in signing something like this.
I’m not singling out Madonna, either – because there were a lot of people on that list who probably haven’t exactly had to resort to eating boxed macaroni and cheese in a while. Celebrity Net Worth, for example, estimates Jane Fonda’s at about $200 million. Oh, and Robert de Niro? A cool $500 million.
Perhaps what’s most insane of all is the fact that Christian Louboutin signed this letter, when it’s public knowledge that the most basic pair of Louboutin heels sell for nearly $700. Louboutin doesn't hate consumerism – he lives and breathes it.
Obsession with material status symbols isn’t just acceptable to him, it’s actually his entire business model. It’s the entire reason why he, the child of a cabinetmaker and stay-at-home mother, was able to launch a business that made him worth an estimated $85 million today.
The thing is, I actually think stories like his are amazing; I’m not attacking any of these people for having success or money. Far from it. Madonna is worth hundreds of millions of bucks, but she has also worked very hard and is incredibly talented. (I’m serious. It’s hard to believe that “Like a Prayer” came out more than 30 years ago because it still gets me on my feet any time I hear it.)
No, their money doesn’t bother me and neither does their fame. What does bother me, though, is the hypocritical virtue-signaling they all displayed in signing something like this. In fact, it’s hard to see it as anything other than an insult to the intelligence of the rest of us.
After all, we’re not stupid, and we know these people aren’t schlepping it. We know that Penelope Cruz, for example, is in fact not sleeping on a bale of hay in an abandoned barn somewhere – and we also know that both capitalism and her devotion to productivity are two major reasons why.
If you’re rich and you’re famous, go ahead and live like you are. You’ve earned it! But please at least respect the rest of us enough to not pretend that you’re devoted to minimalist living – after all, if you really were, you would start by trying it yourself.