Good Charlotte’s classic 2002 hit song Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous sounds, upon first listen, like a typical pop punk bop about class animus. The song bemoans the complaining from the wealthy, who live mostly consequence free lives. Upon further examination, however, the song picks very specific individuals to represent what it views as the rich and famous.
First, it laments that being rich means you can “kill your wife” and avoid jail, as long as you’ve got the cash to “pay for Cochran,” an obvious reference to OJ Simpson. Next, it complains about how if the rich are caught “smokin’ crack,” the drug of choice of rich people everywhere apparently, you can “always just run for mayor of DC,” a reference to former Civil Rights activist and DC mayor Marion Barry.
Although the thesis of the song remains correct, it’s at least strange to not only choose two black men as representative of being “rich and famous,” but then to specifically cite a legal consequence. Regardless of economic class, the legal system tends to convict black men at a significantly higher rate than their white counterparts. Why then use these two as an example of everything wrong with economic inequality?
Matt Bruenig, the mostly talentless rose emoji wonk, started what is likely the first contemporary leftist think tank in order to generate policy papers from that perspective. It’s a noble idea, as the left is sorely missing such an entity. However, the painfully white Bruenig’s first policy paper, titled: Destruction of Black Wealth During the Obama Presidency, instead of being an effective articulation of contemporary leftist criticism, instead reads as a screed against identity politics, and a gotcha directed at black Obama supporters.
The paper’s core point isn’t wrong of course, black wealth was destroyed under the Obama presidency, and the Bush presidency, and Clinton, and Bush, and Reagan, and so on. It’s almost as if robbing specifically black wealth is a foundational principle of the economic system of the United States. Why then would Bruenig single out Obama? For the same reason Good Charlotte felt OJ Simpson was symbolic of inequality in the United States.
Many Star Wars fans have called the lead character Rei a Mary Sue, which is to say a character so naturally talented that they cease to be realistic or believable. These are the same Star Wars fans who of course all idolize Han Solo, who basically is victim to all the same trappings. It’s not a coincidence that people started to realize that maybe some Star Wars characters were written to be vastly appealing to the audience until some of those characters weren’t specifically white dudes. Similar to how, around the same time Beyonce famously pronounced herself a feminist in public, that people decided that maybe feminism was too mainstream, or that once a female lead Ghostbuster reboot was released people felt that maybe Hollywood was too reliant on reboots and sequels.
The “class versus identity” battle has been raging in the left for some time. Identity politics was such a dominant way of thinking, that many on the class side began to overreact, and view any sort of consideration of identity to be inherently ineffective. Absent that, however, you end up with incomplete analysis from the likes of people like Bruenig, who recently gained a new fan in alt-right hero Ben Shapiro after Tweeting several crime statistics, who end up wanting to disprove identity politics so bad that they ignore crucial complex and miss how built upon racism, sexism, etc. contemporary capitalism remains.
Dylan James Harper is the Political Editor for CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Dylan at http://www.dylanjamesharper.com
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