Do the men and women who actually wear suits to work watch the show “Suits”? The show depicts a group of modelesque people wearing designer clothes pretend to be lawyers. Nobody can actually follow more than the bare bones of the plots, and all more or less admit that they watch for the pleasure of watching beautiful smart wealthy people bickering back and forth. Somehow, bickering and one-upmanship, although pretty unnerving and unpleasant in real life, is fun and lovely when done by handsome people on a TV show. Indeed, a young gentle colleague of mine who was recently accepted into law school, but reluctant about whether to take up the offer, admitted that his girlfriend has started showing him the series, in the hopes of making him realise what an amazing wonderful life awaits him should he become a lawyer.
Since the time of the Romans, media has existed to glamorize the lifestyle of the (few) wealthy and the privileged for the (many) poor and unprivileged masses. Shakespeare and his ilk used low-class comedy to punctuate and mimic the real, important story being told about fancy aristocratic people, while the most famed Iranian story-tellers, Ferdowsi with his “Letter of Kings” and so on, didn’t even bother to do that. And now we American and European media holding up a shiny standard of living and lifestyle which is, in reality, unattainable to the vast majority of people everywhere in the world.
That is the key difference. Ferdowsi and Shakespeare entertained us with stories of kings and princes, but they didn’t expect us to want to be them, or be like them; indeed, in most these classic tales, when somebody “jumps class”, and aspires to be something that she or he is not, something horrible happens to them: do you remember poor Emma Bovary and her delusions of aristocratic love and grandeur? But not so with these charming Americanized shows which flood our homes and brains. The message is something else again: this, they insist, is normal and attainable, these beautiful houses, these amazing jobs, these sharp suits, these breath-taking adventures- you too could have them if only you were smart or pretty enough, and they only reason that you don’t is that you’re not.