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Why The Media Just Can’t Stop Whitewashing The Koch Family Story-level




If you want to suffer in Hollywood at its sappy, you could waste an afternoon watching Mary Pickford’s 1917 tearjerker. The poor rich girl other his new version of 1936 of the same name starring Shirley Temple (source material is a 1913 Broadway play by Eleanor Gates). Both films, as can be guessed from the titles, explore the hardships of being the child of plutocratic wealth. pickford theater plays Gwendolyn, the abandoned daughter of a mother who prefers high society to her daughter and a father mired in schemes to make money. Growing up in a cold home, Gwendolyn finds friendship in the noisy company of the warm if ragged working class, which includes an organ grinder and a plumber. From the temple young princess suffering, Barbara Barry, has only one, and a negligent parent, a widowed father immersed in business. Like Gwendolyn, Barbara also discovers nutritious goodness in the company of underdogs, including another organ grinder.

It’s easy to guess why Hollywood executives were drawn to the “poor little rich girl” narrative in times of global war (Pickford) and economic disaster (Temple). This is fundamentally a comforting fantasy of class reconciliation under the hackneyed but often effective rubric of shared humanity. Most of those who are not wealthy have the opportunity to be magnanimous, as their lives are shown to have an emotional glow that dwarfs the flashy profit of the financially well-endowed. The message is that the rich suffer perhaps even more than we do, so they can be our friends. This fellowship is a form of bridge building that replaces the ugly class struggle.

This ludicrous narrative is being revived in the 21st century, not on the big screen but in the august pages of the apparently serious. New York Times. On February 23, the daily published a profile by reporter Brooks Barnes of Elizabeth R. Koch, daughter of Charles Koch, whose net worth is estimated to be around $68 billion and who is by far the largest donor to right-wing causes in the United States.

Barnes delivers a sad story that focuses so much on how hard it is to be a Koch heir that it could easily be the last reboot of The poor rich girl. According to Barnes, Elizabeth Koch has been “driven to the brink of insanity by her last name” and her “anguish may seem entirely understandable to you. Money can be corrosive, especially for the generation that didn’t make it.”

At this point in the article, I almost expected an organ grinder to show up. Instead, Koch’s link to the less well-off is not, as in rough-and-tumble old-fashioned tenement movies with the working class, but rather reveling in New Age welfare flapdoodle. Koch happens to be a promoter of the concept she calls the “Perception Box” (a term she has trademarked in good capitalist style). “Perception Box” seems to be Koch’s catch-all phrase for an imprinted self-conception that we acquire at an early age through social interaction. Koch’s Perception Box, according to her own account, what about the privileged rich girl that everyone hated. She is now promoting a self-help program so that we can all get out of our particular Perception Box and be friends.

A common characteristic that Koch shares with Pickford and Temple is the goal of reconciliation between classes. According to Barnes, one of Koch’s associates believes the heiress is “uniquely positioned to spearhead conversations on de-divisiveness.”

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