Today's the big day for Jamie Johnson, when his documentary The One Percent premieres on Cinemax tonight at 6:30. In the past couple of weeks, he's been doing interviews about it, and, we have to say, we've been continually amused by his painstakingly cultivated stubble and "It's freshman year, and I just took off my white baseball hat" hairstyle. But now it's crunch time, and the twice-Emmy-nominated documentarian is having to face critics and fans who have been waiting to see how he follows up on his debut work, Born Rich. The sophomore effort focuses on the wealth gap in America and tries to get across that, Hello, it's really, really big. "I see it as we have a legitimate problem out there and most people in my position aren't willing to recognize it," he explained to Forbes. "I don't see it as rich boy's guilt." Today's "Rush & Molloy" column points out that, awkwardly, much of the film is an attack on the Fanjul family, members of Johnson's social cohort. (The filmmaker assures the Palm Beach Post that he "doesn't hate" them.) The Times took a croquet swing at the film today, and we can tell they sort of liked it in spite of themselves, though they call it "immature" and complain that "Mr. Johnson thinks he is telling us something we don’t already know."
You've gotta love Jamie Johnson. The prettiest boy heir of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune has a real knack for uncovering the most confusing and loathsome aspects of wealth. First we heard about all of his tragic but forgivably young and naïve friends in Born Rich, his debut documentary. Now, with his sophomore effort, The One Percent, we're apparently going to hear about the older versions of these subjects — the ones whose offensiveness we can't shrug off as due to youth or stupidity. "Contrary to common assumption, many of the wealthiest Americans aren't worried about the weakening economy at all," Johnson wrote on the Huffington Post last night. "They are actually excited about it." Wait, wha? But they're the ones who are going to lose the most money! (Oh, wait. They're still going to have tons of it while we have less of the little we had originally.) Johnson explains the so-called glee of the ultrarich:
To them, the crisis in the housing market, the recent slide in stock prices, and the general loss in purchasing power for millions of Americans have resulted in the thinning of the aristocratic ranks, or in other words, have decreased demand for the highest level of luxury living. Ironically, for the mega-rich, recession brings with it the ability to live well at a lower cost and with less of a hassle.
When we first came across this news in the Times, we immediately nominated it for our Chutzpa of the Year award: Johnson & Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to wrest the red-cross logo from the American Red Cross. What's next, we wondered, DreamWorks suing Islam for exclusive use of a crescent moon? As we read on, however, we found ourselves involuntarily siding with the health-product giant over the disaster-relief nonprofit. Turns out J&J trademarked the logo before the American Red Cross was even chartered. And that the two had peacefully co-existed, like Apple Computer and the Beatles' Apple Corps, under a deal that allowed the nonprofit use of the logo so long as they not step on each other's toes. This meant that the health org wouldn't go into retail (and that the conglomerate wouldn't go solving health crises, we suppose).