There has recently been a spate of satirical films and TV series that take aim at the vanity, self-indulgence and sense of entitlement of the uber-rich. I’m thinking in particular of “The Menu”, “The Triangle of Sadness”, “Glass Onion” and “White Lotus”. You could also include “Succession” on that list (especially in light of the latest revelations from the House of Murdoch), but this is more of a traditional drama than the others, both in terms of format and content.
Nothing radically new in these stories, their themes or the way they plot their narratives. What is perhaps surprising is the fact that these are not small, independent, art-house productions. They have substantial budgets, exotic locations, stylish design, creative cinematography, and some big names in the credits.
Plus, they receive major theatrical releases, or are luring audiences to premium streaming services. So, they are generally commercial. Best of all, they are attracting awards and nominations – which should hopefully encourage studios to invest in more projects like these (rather than green-lighting yet another sequel in the never-ending round of comic book and super hero franchises).
Of course, these particular stories could simply represent a sign of the times, reflecting current world events, and holding up a mirror to our social-media obsessed age. They also resonate with audiences who are looking for some escapism in the form of critiques of the upper classes, the filthy rich, the social elites, the global power brokers, and those hangers-on who hover and follow in their wake.
I wouldn’t suggest these productions are waging a form of class war, but they represent a kind of morality play: why would anyone want to feel jealous of, let alone become, these people?
Next week: A Journey Through England