cultural capital

Wasps Are Back, According to the Wasps

Jamie Johnson made his career by luring his friends into participating in his documentary Born Rich and then capturing them on film sounding like total idiots. But now he has reached a new low. He is blogging. Sacre bleu blood! But wait! It’s for Vanity Fair, so that kind of makes it okay. In his latest blog post, the pretty Johnson & Johnson heir writes about what he calls “the rising cachet of the declining Wasp establishment.”

[E]ven though the Wasp establishment is losing much of the influence it once held over our society’s major institutions, the imagery, the manners, and the general style associated with Wasps seem to have increasing appeal.

He spends the rest of the post kind of flitting around and contradicting his original thesis and plugging fancy friends like jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia and banking heir Marian Moore. Then he cites the success of Ralph Lauren and Wes Anderson movies as proof of the growing popularity of the blue-blood Americana image. He blogs:

Why do [Ralph] Lauren and millions of other non-Wasps find Wasp culture so appealing? “It’s just so many generations of being elite,” says Marian Moore. “It means something to people.”

Maybe this was true ten years ago, when Anderson’s films truly peaked and Abercrombie was the shit, but it’s not really the case anymore.

Turn on MTV, walk around downtown New York. Neither the masses, nor the “counterculture” are really embracing the Wasp aesthetic right now. And when the rare band like Vampire Weekend and Chester French cloak themselves in preppy clothes, it’s not aspirational, it’s ironic. Wasps are being parodied; only Johnson’s ilk aren’t in on the joke. If anything, people aspire to be the next generation of Google moguls who actually created (rather than inherited) their own wealth, who dress down and don’t generally distinguish themselves, culturally, from other people. Most people nowadays consider Wasps to be weird and oppressed and effete. New rich is the new old rich, if that makes any sense.

Or maybe you think we’re the ones who are full of it? As always, leave your thoughts in the comments. —Noelle Hancock

The Rising Cachet of Declining WASPs [VF]

Wasps Are Back, According to the Wasps