30 Aug You’re Being A Dick … Sir.
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – Cover date 21.8.23
You know that list you have tucked away in your head of the things you would have if you were super rich? The house with room enough for everyone, a very cool car with maybe a driver, possibly a personal chef and a masseur, a walk-in wardrobe with clothes arranged by colour, shoes and handbags on display…
Okay, yes, this is my list. But regardless of whatever you might have on yours, please add this to it – extremely wealthy people should definitely hire someone whose job it is to call them out when they are being stupid.
Because looking round the place, we can see that billionaires make some terrible choices. I don’t mean sweet little eccentricities. I totally get why the late Steve Jobs had a wardrobe that featured only black turtlenecks and jeans – if you’re running a company like Apple maybe you don’t want to start making decisions till you get to the office.
And when Salvador Dali took Babou, his pet ocelot, for walks in Paris, or Lady Gaga turned up at the MTV awards in a dress made of meat, these were expressions of their personality entirely in keeping with their wider oeuvre. A good and trusted friend would have said, “You do you, Boo” and cheerfully gone about their day.
But then there are decisions made that affect all of us, and which are unfathomable. Can we have a quick chat about Twitter? As a long time user (I joined the flock in 2009) I’ve been watching the changes made by new owner Elon Musk. Specifically, ditching the cute blue bird and replacing it with a creepy black “X” had me thinking, Mate, I don’t think you have people in your life who feel okay about telling you when you’re doing it wrong.
Sure, the rebrand is sort of appropriate in that Twitter is like everyone’s idea of an “ex” now – used to be fun, you once had good chats, but now it’s a toxic cesspool with the default mood set at shout-and-snarl. So, yeah, “X” works in that sense. But kill off the bird when it’s the last sweet thing we remember about the place? Mate.
When you have a lot of money and therefore power, you end up always being the person with the highest status in the room. Relationships can become transactional – they’re there for what you can give them. No one wants to rock the boat if your boat is a luxury superyacht.
Ancient civilisations and medieval rulers knew these dangers, and that the trick to avoid becoming a fool was to employ one. A court jester – literally The Fool – who could, without an ordinary courtier’s fear of punishment or death, tell the King he was being an idiot. In a chorus of yesses, they were free to sing a solo “no”.
It would be a helluva job, of course. I imagine you could get used to living adjacent to luxury pretty quickly and have to keep reminding yourself that part of the job is to risk the boss’s displeasure on a daily basis.
You would need to be past the point in life of being a people pleaser, with nothing to prove and even less to lose. So basically, what every billionaire needs is a belligerent nana.
I would apply for that job. Especially if it came with a personal masseur and a walk-in wardrobe to enjoy for as long as the job lasted.