Socialites Are Living the Life

Posted by on Nov 30, 2019 in socialite | Comments Off on Socialites Are Living the Life

Socialites shouldn’t be confused with”socialism,” though excesses from the former can lead to some socio-political backlash leading to the latter.

In accordance with the 2006 version of the American Heritage Dictionary, socialites are described as people who are”prominent in fashionable society.” The term is a rather recent one; many etymologists follow the word socialites straight back into the 1920swhen editors in Time Magazine apparently coined the word.

Needless to say, anyone familiar with all the literary works of F. Scott Fitzgerald or the lyrics of Cole Porter are well aware of socialites and their impact on American culture. Paradoxically, though both Fitzgerald and Porter were regarded as socialites in their own day, neither had some issue with being highly critical of the fellow socialites. In his seminal work, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald depicts socialites as selfish, cold, egocentric sociopaths who live empty lives and think nothing of ruining the lives of other people within their pursuit of enjoyment, not being held accountable for it. Porter on the other hand, takes a much more light-hearted and satirical perspective, poking merciless fun at the socialites with whom he often associated in wickedly humorous and ironic song lyrics like Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, Down In The Depths On The Ninetieth Floor, along with Ms. Otis Regrets (She’s Unable To Lunch Today).

Cole Porter wasn’t the sole songwriter with something to say about socialites. The late Irving Berlin – that penned possibly as many as 5,000 tunes over the duration of his 101-year life – wrote a few songs about socialites. However, because his ancient history was substantially different from that of Cole Porter, his understanding of socialites appeared accordingly.

Contrary to Porter, who had been born into a wealthy Midwestern family, Berlin was the child of bad Russian-Jewish immigrants, and actually had to fight his way from poverty. His lyrics neither condemn nor make fun of socialites; instead, he comes off as a neutral observer that maybe would love to become among those socialites, if just for a day – or at least pretend to become one. Putting On The Ritz is just one such unbiased comment on what sometimes appears to be a desperate hunt for excitement:”. . .spending every dime – for a wonderful time,” or “Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee and watch them spend their last two bits – Puttin’ On The Ritz.” Another Berlin song about socialites makes the suggestion”let us go slumming on Park Avenue” – that basically, is composed of dressing up and pretending to be socialites.

Obviously, as a successful songwriter, Irving Berlin was acquainted with socialites as F. Scott Fitzgeral or Cole Porter. What’s intriguing is that those whose job brought them into contact socialites frequently didn’t express a lot of admiration for them. It is worth noting howeverthat unlike the socialites with whom they connected, Fitzgerald, Porter and Berlin had vibrant, creative professions where they created works of lasting worth, making substantial contributions to American civilization – and this might be one of those secrets to true joy and contentment.

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