Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Demford Wives

As profiled in this NYT article, A&E airs a documentary tonight on Washington Wives, or more precisely, Dem candidate's wives.

The show (which I'll try to catch and comment on), seems to hold up Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Kerry as the stereotypes you'd imagine, the former open, down-home, real; the latter, upper-crust, out of touch, rich - though the article says the documentary is a bit more fair and evenhanded in its presentation.

Of the article's more noteworthy quotes from the show, some advice from writer and hostess - and wife of Ben Bradless - Sally Quinn who says, "understand that this is about your husband, and not about you."

Isn't it usually?

Anway - more on the Edwards/Kerry juxtaposition (though both are rich, the Kerrys just act like it more, don't they?). The article uses the Fox reality show "Trading Spouses" (good lord) as a comparison point - it too relies on the tried and true, fish out of water formula. Think "The Simple Life" or "Green Acres" or "Overboard" or 1000s of other "hey look at the rich lady deal with the poor folk" hijinx.

I find it trying. Sure maybe Theresa does look a bit foolish and out of touch (or that's how she gets edited). But why do we, American Dreamers, have such a beef with the rich kids?

In the 60 Minutes Interview, earlier this month, Theresa Kerry answered a question about Republican attacks based on the ticket's megamillionaire status:

"I find it un-American for people to criticize someone and say they're not deserved for any position whether because they have too much or too little, or because they're black or they're white. That's un-American."

Of course, it's as easy to make fun of that answer - in all it's "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" granduer - as it is their bank accounts. But there's a valid point. We teach our kids the American Dream - you work hard, you dream big, you can be Bill Gates, you can be Donald Trump, you can have a bigger house than your parents and keep a stable of SUVs. Play the market. Buy real estate. Win consecutively on Jeopardy. Play the lotto every week.

But god help you if you win because you will lose your humanity instantly. By achieving the American Dream, you become its enemy - part of the corporate corruption, greed, capitalist piggishness that's ruining our churches, homes, apple pies, and grandmothers. And so much the worse if you're a woman - then you're a rich, lazy, out of touch, feminine waste of space who is the enemy of the American Dream.

It's okay to want to be rich, but not okay to be rich. But maybe it will be okay to be rich, so long as you don't act like it - don't speak too well or you'll betray your ivy covered education.

Just another impossible standard, it seems.

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