Watching Teen Cribs, one of the more recent celebrations of grotesque wealth gracing the airwaves, it struck me that one of two things must be true: either we as a society aren't as hung up on the concept of the disappearing middle class or the "one percent" as the media would have us believe, or the people showcased in this program are only a couple more economic downturns away from being dragged screaming from their California kings by angry mobs and dragged to pieces behind a '72 El Camino.
I suspect it's the former, which makes a certain convoluted sense. The unending deluge of garbage television is a huge contributor to our societal apathy, so much so that even programs showcasing teenagers living like the heathen kings of old isn't sufficient to provoke revolutionary ire. At this point, we'll need footage of hedge fund executives feasting on poor children to get us off our asses.
And even that might not be enough, especially if they give us a toll free number allowing audiences to vote on which baby gets eaten first.
Just like its predecessor (MTV Cribs), very episode of Teen Cribs is more or less interchangeable: some kid ranging from midly obnoxious to full-on shithead take us on a monotone tour of his parents' palatial estate, punctuated by what I assume are the features that supposedly make it stand out from other garish abodes.
Bowling alleys, for example.
13-year old Austin, for example, lives in a Las Vegas home with a "lagoon style" pool, an indoor basketball court, and 52 flat screen TVs. Dad is an ... ex-physical therapist? To the Sultan of Brunei, I'm guessing.
52 TVs? There's a reason most of us could count forward from our grandparents' time to the year 2075 before numbering 50 TVs in their possession: because only sports bars and Alan Moore supervillains should have that many at one time. There are three TVs in the family room, the better to catch all their favorite football and basketball games (because god forbid they rub elbows with the unwashed at the local Buffalo Wild Wings). Further, every bathroom has a TV, and Austin's game room even has five on one wall.
That makes sense. I mean, you don't really expect kids to play Rock Band while looking at the *same screen*, do you? What are we, Amish?
The hits keep on coming. Austin's very proud of the kitchen sink, which is unusually long and therefore convenient for putting ice and drinks in. You know, unlike any other sink in existence. He also describes the number of different sounds the doorbell to his bedroom plays. If only I'd though to put a bell on my bedroom door to keep my parents out. Oh wait, that's right, they would've removed the fucking door from its hinges. How cute that Austin expects privacy in a home with probably no less than three dozen security cameras.
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And if you think the kid is the only horrifying member of the family (he wears fucking dog tags, which is tough to beat), Ed Hardy-sporting Dad bought Mom a 24 karat gold mannequin to model her wedding dress. By the time we get to the basketball court/discotheque (Dad must have been a big fan of The Jerk) and are introduced to their neighbor, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., my outrage glands are only dry husks.
The second house, shown to us by 15-year old Cal from Omaha (dad's a financial executive ... shocking), is almost modest by comparison: a mere half dozen TVs and a room full of autographed Heisman jerseys are the most ostentatious features. Well, next to the "resort style" pool (clearly I'm not up on the wide variety of swimmin' holes available) and bowling alley.
It's funny how the only people under the age of 50 I ever see bowl are rich kids. Not in public, of course.
Were I a conspiracy theorist, I'd think the constant barrage of Real Housewives and Kardashians and obscene displays of wealth on display in Teen Cribs were meant to beat us down into realizing that no matter how hard we work, and how diligently we save, the overwhelming majority of us will never have a lazy river running around our house. At the same time, the networks pacify our simmering rage by offering complementary coverage of teen moms and hoarders, to show us how much worse off we could be.