This tableau was apparently too much for comedian Seth Rogen. He blasted the Emmy operators, saying, “They said this was outdoors. It’s not. They lied to us.”
Needless to say, CNN, always eager to help the elite wriggle out of an optical jam, rushed out this report:
The Emmys, of course, were part of a pattern: One rule for me, and one rule for ye.
A month earlier, an unauthorized photo showed Barack Obama dancing, maskless, at his lavish 60th birthday party at his $30 million manse on Martha’s Vineyard; the archetypal citadel of elite liberalism.
Then, in September, we saw a similar delineation of class status at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in Manhattan: Those who paid $30,000 for a ticket didn’t wear masks, while those serving the drinks and the hors d’ouevres were masked. In the snarky words of gimlet-eyed comedian Bill Maher, “Let’s just make the help wear the masks, that’s the liberal approach.”
All this was too much for iconoclastic leftist Glenn Greenwald, who tweeted:
Imagine being a USC student and just watched everyone maskless at Obama’s party, the Emmys, the SF Mayor at her nightclub, the California Gov. at his lobbyist dinner, AOC at the Met, and then being told you must remain masked at all times indoors, not even allowed to eat or drink.
If it’s any comfort, it’s always been like this — with the rich and powerful exalting themselves in every possible way. In ancient Rome, for instance, the senatorial order wore one purple stripe on their togas; this was the latus clavus. At the same time, the equestrian order wore two purple stripes; this was the clavus angustus. Needless to say, the plebeians were not allowed to wear such attire, let alone slaves. So there you have it: The hierarchy made itself visible at a glance, using bits of fabric.
As they say about history, The more things change the more they stay the same.
In more recent times, the foremost observer of status gradations was the American economist Thorstein Veblen. His 1899 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class, lays out his observations on “conspicuous consumption.” That is, the rich aren’t happy just being rich, they often feel the need to flaunt their riches. As Veblen put it, “The consumption of luxuries is . . . a mark of the master.”