Two and a half years ago I saw a documentary called Jesus Camp about kids raised by evangelicals and attending religious summer camps where they spoke in tongues and so on. I was impressed by how impartial the filmmakers remained throughout, always leaving the viewer free to interpret what they saw. The result was a film that I, and the entirety of the Toronto-based documentary-going crowd, found both hilarious and horrifying. Audiences in evangelical territories, like the American Midwest, didn’t have an adverse reaction to it…in fact, the filmmakers explained, audiences there loved it. It takes skill for an artist to tell the truth plainly enough that the subjects don’t realize the rest of the world will be aghast when it sees the light of day.
It was this same impressive brand of fine line-walking that graced the cover story of this month’s Toronto Life magazine, written by Sonia Verma. The abstract:
“The money’s running out and they must choose: pull the kids out of private school or fire the gardener; pawn the silver or close the Pusateri’s account; cancel the club memberships or default on the cottage. An inside report on the sacrifices of the nouveau poor”
I’m angry at myself for throwing out my paper copy since TL won’t post most of their magazine content online (Dear editors: the 21st century. Please hear of it.) and I can’t remember the very best quotes, but suffice it to say I was barking with laughter after the Rosedale matron whined about the hardship of having to hide her full Holt Renfrew shopping bags for fear of showing up her friends and neighbours. Not to mention the lady who fretted about irritating her personal shopper when she asked for a discount on a dress that cost thousands of dollars.
The beauty is that this little circle of wealthy, oblivious nimrods actually seem to expect sympathy — or at least empathy — and probably have no idea that 99% of those who read the magazine laughed themselves silly, giving thanks for once that they themselves aren’t rich enough to become this disconnected from reality.