My Man Godfrey & the Idle Rich
As our future looks increasingly 1930s’ish, I thought I’d put in a plug for a great movie: My Man Godfrey (1936). In the film, the idle rich of Manhattan entertain themselves by throwing a scavenger hunt. Anyone who can retrieve a “forgotten man”–i.e., someone rendered jobless and homeless by the Depression–gets a lot of points. One player thinks that her find (Godfrey) would be a great butler, and invites him into her family house. The vapid protagonists of The Simple Life look pretty normal compared to the Upper East Side swells Godfrey gets to observe.
I think we’ll see more movies like Godfrey in coming years, as the venality and incompetence of CEOs comes to light. Consider this factoid from the WSJ’s executive pay survey:
Fifteen corporate chieftains of large home-building and financial-services firms each reaped more than $100 million in cash compensation and proceeds from stock sales during the past five years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Four of those executives, including the heads of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., ran companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection or seen their share prices fall more than 90% from their peak.
We’re pretty powerless to stop these men (and yes, the top 25 were all men) from enjoying these spoils. But we can at least laugh at the imagined chaos in the households of captains of industry who’ve made such a mess of the economy.