At the end of a long day scrolling through memes, there are a few things we can reliably turn to for comfort. Specifically: removing your bra, grabbing a bottle glass of wine, and turning on Bravo. Unfortunately, according to a new study, one of those things (Bravo) is making you a monster who hates poor people. Honestly, I’m a little sad that these researchers are spending their money on ruining reality TV. But I’m even sadder at what the study results showed. Let’s dig in.
This London School of Economics study tested participants in two ways. First, they polled the group about their TV watching habits, focusing on shows like The Apprentice (BBC version) and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Overall, they found that regular watchers were more likely to have materialistic and “anti-welfare” attitudes. (To be clear, they demonstrated anti-welfare attitudes when specifically questioned about the issue. Watching KUWTK has no correlation with randomly railing against the existence of welfare, unless you happen to be Paul Ryan.)
Second, the researchers showed some participants ads for luxury goods and pictures of celebrities. The other participants looked at ads featuring nature or animals. The researchers then polled all participants on their “views on wealth, success and government benefits for impoverished people.” The results? With only 60 seconds looking at the ads promoting wealth/expensive goods, people were way more likely to back anti-welfare policies.
After looking at a Prada ad for 60 seconds, apparently:
What It Means
So, why would this be the case? Obviously, they can’t know for sure—but if you watch reality TV on a regular basis (think: all Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules, KUWTK, etc), you probably have a pretty good idea. The study author, Dr. Rodolfo Levya, phrased it like this:
“Programs like ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The X Factor’ are engineered to absorb audiences into the world of wealth and celebrities so act as ‘cultivators’ of materialistic values and attitudes…If there is more emphasis on materialism as a way to be happy, this makes us more inclined to be selfish and antisocial, and therefore unsympathetic to people less fortunate.”
As much as I’d love to poke holes in this, I have to say that it holds up. What I watch on TV has a strong influence on my purchasing habits. (Exhibit A: I never would have gotten eyelash extensions if I hadn’t been bingeing Vanderpump Rules.) And I do pretty firmly believe that a trust fund would solve most of my problems. So yeah, I’ve definitely bought into the whole “materialism as a way to be happy” thing. That being said, the idea that money = happiness is not exactly new to our generation. So it feels a little cheap to pin all of that on the advent of reality TV. If anything, it’s just exaggerated the phenomenon.
As for the other finding (that people became anti-welfare and generally unsympathetic), I find this harder to explain. Personally, I don’t feel a strong correlation between wanting to buy a designer bag and supporting Medicaid budget cuts. Then again, Trump rose to fame through The Apprentice, and his 2019 budget proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance. So on a national level, we’re definitely seeing a lack of sympathy in that direction.
Overall, as much as I love blaming any bad character traits on external factors, these study results are disappointing. (And not all that surprising.) Am I going to advocate that you throw out your TVs and/or boycott the Kardashians? Def not—for one thing, I’d be out of a job. But in your quest to live half as luxuriously as Blue Ivy Carter, maybe consciously take the time to remember that other people are struggling too. In other words, make an effort to care as much about the homeless population in your city as you do about Kim and Kourtney’s latest feud, or they’re going to label Bravo a public health risk and take it away from us.
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If you’ve been anywhere on the internet, you’ve heard the news of Kylie’s Forbes cover—and seen the immediate backlash. Personally, I had mixed feelings about it. I definitely stan for the Kardashians (and Kylie in particular). But I also bristle at the suggestion that they got to where they are through hard work and perseverance. TBH, most of the reason I worship them is because they have the option of doing the exact opposite. If I found people who worked hard to be inspirational, that would imply I wanted to work hard myself. Nope. I’d like to be born into a family of millionaires, doctor my face into submission, and make thousands of dollars off each selfie I Instagram. Isn’t that the American dream?
So, given that Kylie did basically exactly that, I both applaud her successes and scoff at the mention of her being “self-made.” But when I dug deeper into the story—and the backlash—I was admittedly surprised at what I found. (*Lights cigarette and squints à la Carrie Bradshaw*) I couldn’t help but wonder: Would Kylie have gotten all this backlash if she were a man?
What Did Kylie Really Achieve?
In researching this article, I did something I suspect many detractors did not. I actually read the Forbes article, and I learned some surprising things. First of all, Kim (age 37) is worth $350 million—compared to Kylie’s (age 20) estimated $900 million. To be worth 2.5 times the OG Kardashian is all kinds of impressive.
Second, Kylie Jenner trademarked the name Kylie Lip Kits at only 17 years old. This brings me to the point I’m really interested in. Apparently, Kylie trademarked the name in August 2014. According to this handy timeline, she first began denying rumors that she got lip injections in March 2014. This means two things. Within months of injecting her lips, she decided that her business would be based on selling women (non-injected) lip products. That’s BOLD. Also, she then admitted to getting lip injections in May 2015. Basically, announcing to the world: “I don’t think makeup alone can make your lips look good—but here are some of my fave makeup looks for $29 dollars each, available November!” And THEN she proceeds to sell out her first-ever launch in under a minute.
Sure, the accumulated wealth to launch the company (and buy those injections) wasn’t self-made at all. But she literally designed and purchased her own lips and then built a cosmetic brand based exclusively on said lips. The only way that could be more self-made was if she handled the syringe herself.
How Does She Compare To Other Self-Made Billionaires?
When compared with other self-made billionaires, the difference in the Kardashian clan is noteworthy. While many others came from privileged backgrounds, Kardashian wealth is extreme. Not to mention the fact that they literally broadcast that wealth, and so have an audience at the ready. So, all these factors play into the swift rebuke of the term “self-made.”
And yet. Much of the same criticism launched at Kylie is applicable, in other forms, to her fellow billionaires. Co-founder of Snapchat Evan Spiegel, who grew up in Pacific Palisades—the 4th wealthiest neighborhood in LA, and home to plenty of celebs—got a Cadillac as a 16th birthday present, went to a celeb-studded “ultra-exclusive” school, and took helicopters to family ski trips. His introduction to the tech world was assisted by his father’s alumni status at Stanford, his insider access through “family friends,” and countless other helping hands. Spiegel himself has acknowledged his privilege as a “young, white, educated male,” adding that “life isn’t fair.” Hurts to hear, but hella true.
So, What’s The Real Difference?
For one, there is the legitimate difference in amount of wealth and available publicity, which I acknowledged above. But, there’s also the fact that Spiegel, for all his self-awareness, can make statements like that because no one else is calling his status into question. People might argue about whether or not he’s an ass, but so far, no one’s balked at the idea that he’s self-made. Even the article I link to above, including all the details on his privileged early life, includes no direct suggestion that he didn’t earn his success beyond including Spiegel’s own quotes. The charmed life, the wealthy parents, and the parade of expensive cars are seen as little more than details about how lucky this self-made billionaire happens to be.
Per the dictionary’s shadily announced definition yesterday, self-made means “having succeeded in life unaided.” Evan Spiegel was not unaided. Donald Trump was not unaided—remember his father’s “small” million-dollar loan? Mark Zuckerberg was not unaided—he, too, has publicly stated that “you don’t get to be successful like this just by being hard working or having a good idea.” He even explicitly adds that if he’d “had to support family” or “didn’t know be fine if Facebook didn’t work out,” he’d never have made it. Sure, they may have been LESS aided—but privilege is privilege, and most of the self-made billionaires you’ll see on any list had a lot of it.
Is It Sexist Tho?
So, is it low-key sexist that the public only riots when Kylie’s included on this list? That only Kylie is demanded to actively downplay her own achievements, while male counterparts are lauded as shrewd and self-aware for acknowledging their circumstances? Yeah, kinda. Sadly, Kylie doesn’t fit the public image of what a young self-made billionaire should be. We’ve been bred to expect nerdy white boys in turtlenecks, and we don’t question their credentials if they fit the bill. But throw a stunner like Kylie on the cover of Forbes, and people go nuts trying to justify their worldview. While there is some merit to questioning how much “self-made” applies to Kylie Jenner, it’s a shame that only Kylie Jenner has provoked that insistent questioning, and not the privileged young men who came before her.
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I’ll go ahead and agree with every recent Vanderpump Rules recap: the show is largely no longer fun. I fondly remember when 9pm was the tiny glimmer of light at the end of yet another hideous Monday. But I don’t seem to be alone in feeling like the show is on its last legs. The Vanderpump Rules cast is aging out of the debauchery they were cast for—and all the icky, real-life stuff we’re watching now is way too relatable (and dark) to be fun. So, because I suspect the show will be cancelled relatively soon, and I’ve always wanted to know if could make good money as a VPR star I selflessly hope the cast is financially stable enough to survive it, I looked into the Vanderpump Rules cast’s net worth. Here’s what I found out.
How Much Are They Really Being Paid?
According to TMZ, the Vanderpump Rules cast earned $5,000 each for the entire first season. Season 2, the cast earned $3,000 per episode, and season 3, they earned $5,000 per episode. By Season 4, they started earning what Slice refers to as “Housewives money”: roughly $15K per episode.
In other words, Scheana was only slightly exaggerating with her constant refrain of “dream wedding on a waitress budget.” She made around $63K for season 3, and we’ve discussed exactly how far that income range gets you in LA. (FYI, I can actually do math and recognize that $5K times 21 episodes doesn’t sound quite right. But I’m trusting Slice’s numbers and assuming varying pay rates depending on screen time, or taxes or whatever. You’re welcome to find better numbers and share below.) Now, however, the cast is netting a cool $360K per season. So I’m sure the Scheana and Rob wedding plans are were even more elaborate, and that Rob will slide into Scheana’s DMs once he reads this.
Who’s Worth The Least?
In a revelation that makes perfect sense, Tom Schwartz is worth the least. Celebrity Net Worth estimates his worth at $25K, which means the tears his shed when paying for his wedding were definitely real. Katie, on the other hand, has been around since day one—and seems like one of the few competent waitresses on top of it. Even so, she has the second lowest net worth: $30K. Even accounting for wedding costs and medical bills, Katie’s given this show six years of her life. I’m kind of shocked that she and Schwartz combined are still worth under $100K, and each are worth the equivalent of an entry level assistant’s salary. Dark.
Finally, Katie’s low net worth is even more insulting when you see who’s tied for third lowest. Brittany and Lala (who joined the show for season 6 and season 4, respectively) are each worth around $50K. I’ll begrudgingly admit that Lala seems like a hustler, and yes, Brittany got her own spin-off, but still. Katie can’t be feeling good about that.
In retrospect, probably one of the more financially responsible decisions Schwartz has made:
Who’s Worth The Most?
Lisa Vanderpump is worth an estimated $75 million, and is the highest valued cast member by far, but honestly, Lisa doesn’t really count as a Vanderpump Rules cast member as far as I’m concerned. I’ll give you .05 of a second to pretend to be surprised before moving on. Beyond this, the list of highest-valued Vanderpump stars makes me want to throw my laptop out the window. To preserve my sanity, I’ll rattle off the numbers quickly and then dig into analysis. Jax: $500K. Sandoval: $400K. Vail: $400K. Stassi: $300K. Kristen: $250K. Scheana: $150K. Everyone still with me? Still breathing? Great. Let’s do this.
First of all, I feel literally ill over the fact that Jax is the highest-valued non-Vanderpump member of this cast. Spin-off aside, he’s been on the show as long as Katie, and he is worth over 15 times more. Also, Jax pretty exclusively engages in criminally stupid, criminally cruel, or just straight-up criminal acts. (Seriously—doesn’t he have legal fees to pay off? Shouldn’t he be worth less from that alone?) And I don’t love the power dynamic of him being worth 10 times as much as girlfriend/hostage Brittany.
Similarly, I’m pretty fucking outraged by the value attached to Sandoval, resident assface of season 6. Slice, equally puzzled by this valuation, dubiously posits that maybe he’s “good at saving.” If you’ve watched the show and seen Sandoval’s makeup drawer, you will join me in thinking probs not. Vail’s value is not worth discussing (apparently it’s soap opera money), and I’m nostalgically, vindictively pleased that Stassi is worth twice as much as Scheana. Other than the fact that the women’s values are all so much ludicrously lower than the highest worth men, I have very little opinion on Stassi/Kristen/Scheana playing out as it did. I bet Katie has a few opinions though.
So: another Monday, another disappointing set of realities. We live in a world where Jax Taylor is worth half a million dollars. And where a spin-off called “Katie & Schwartz Navigate Bankruptcy” is probably being green-lit as we speak. At least The Handmaid’s Tale comes back this month, so we’ll have something relatively cheerful to look forward to.
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It’s been a few years since Gossip Girl ended, but we’re obviously all still in love with Chuck Bass and consider Blair Waldorf to be a top female role model in life, followed by Michelle Obama. The show offered us a lot to learn about the plight of being young, hot, and rich in New York City, and much of its wisdom will simply never go out of style (ahem, everything spoken by Dorota). There were a few lessons from the show that we maybe shouldn’t take literally, although not positive TBCH. Here are the 15 lessons from Gossip Girl that are technically accurate, but still questionable.
1. Getting stalked is a completely normal part of high school and actually pretty desirable.
2. You might end up low-key almost murdering someone, but it’s fine if you’re pretty.
3. If you don’t murder someone, you’ll probably have at least a couple mental disorders, which is the minimum to live on the Upper East Side.
4. There will also be a decent amount of sociopaths who serve no other purpose than to plot your demise.
5. Don’t expect to get any help from parents, because they’re all even more sexually repressed and unstable.
6. Make sure to acquire a few “minions,” because it’s not grounds for harassment if they’re being graced by your presence.
7. Remember that the school uniform is CEOs and Office Hoes.
8. Don’t even bother going into the Met.
9. Be careful of socializing with outsiders who live in a sketchy place called “Williamsburg.”
10. (Hot tip: Williamsburg is a great place to live if you’re poor. You can get this enormous loft for basically nothing.)
11. On the bright side, being rich allows you to get into any Manhattan bar or club at age 16 and skip puberty.
12. It can also buy you the only thing that matters in life, which is a Polish maid named Dorota.
13. It’s easy to maintain a secret identity in a small high school by starting a blog with a traceable IP address, or wearing a two-inch mask to a party.
14. In the end, you’ll end up marrying your fuckboy high school boyfriend who refused to commit to you for several years.
15. Overall, high school is a really sexy time, and with any luck, you’ll have the opportunity to turn down your Ivy League acceptance to maintain all your toxic relationships in NYC!
XOXO, Gossip Girl
As part of a new philanthropy program that allows poor people to date her, Mariah Carey was reportedly donating $25,000 each month to her now ex-boyfriend Bryan Tanaka. This was not money to spend on rent, clothes, food, or any of those selfish things that Bryan thought were important before he became Mariah’s number one bitch. It was his monthly allowance for buying her presents. Because she wants more for Christmas than you, Bryan. Sorry.
Who is Bryan Tanaka, you ask, other than a sad poor person? Apparently he’s Mariah’s very ripped 33-year-old backup dancer who quickly became a rebound after she broke off her engagement with Australian billionaire James Packer. The two started dating in February, but it didn’t take long for Mariah to miss something about her fiancé, and it definitely wasn’t his smile.
After realizing her insatiable need for attention and expensive shit, Mariah had two choices: either break up with Bryan while he still had some dignity intact, or start subsidizing his stingy dancer salary so he could buy her enough presents to get through a few more months of their doomed relationship. Being the decent and altruistic person she is, Mariah chose the latter.
Either Bryan is really bad at picking out gifts, or Mariah just got super fucking bored with it all because she just dumped him yesterday and seems totally fine with it. Better luck next time Bryan, maybe if you start saving up now you could afford to hang out with Mariah for like, one afternoon or something.
At last, science has confirmed something betches figured out a long time ago. Forget boring shit like hard work and perseverance and oh my god sorry I just fell asleep. Anyway. Apparently, success comes down to personality rather than intelligence, so suck it, nerds.
This comes from a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences back in September. Researchers looked at a bunch of data sets and found that the best predictor of life achievements—basically, whether you’re skinny and rich or eating potato chips living in your parents’ basement—wasn’t IQ tests. It was personality, which is something betches have on fucking lock.
IQ could predict achievement test scores, but when it came to stuff like life satisfaction and body mass index (btw is this researchers’ way of shading fat people?), the best way to tell if someone was going to be successful as an adult was combining personality scores and grades. In fact, they found that being rich was associated with a personality trait called conscientiousness, aka self-discipline. Admittedly, betches aren’t exactly known for our self-control, but we’re perfect in every other aspect so whatever.
TL;DR it doesn’t matter what some internet IQ test told you if you don’t get shit done in real life. Fortunately, being charming and flawless is a betch’s area of expertise—just don’t expect us to show up on time (or not hungover) on Monday morning.