My family could buy your family
February 17, 2005 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for the best example of a film, book or television show with a plot based around a spoiled rich kid - one that doesn't involve Paris Hilton. Any ideas?

Also, what heir/heiress/family would you consider to be the polar opposite of Paris, i.e., responsible, upstanding, relatively publicity-shy? So far my top pick is the Kennedys, but I'm sure there's a better one out there.

Thanks in advance, all replies.
posted by nyterrant to Society & Culture (55 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The Toy.

What heir/heiress/family would you consider to be the polar opposite of Paris, i.e., responsible, upstanding, relatively publicity-shy? So far my top pick is the Kennedys.

No snark intended, but is there some sarcasm there that I'm missing?
posted by Cyrano at 7:19 AM on February 17, 2005


Born Rich.

Almost any Bret Easton Ellis book will probably do (e.g. Less Than Zero).
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:20 AM on February 17, 2005


No, no sarcasm intended. The Kennedys are the best I can come up with so far. They're not camera-shy, but they did use the family wealth accumulated by Joe Sr. to go out and do good in the world instead of becoming investment bankers.

Still, there must be a better examples. You know, low-key Vanderbilts out saving whales or the rainforest or something.
posted by nyterrant at 7:24 AM on February 17, 2005


Silver Spoons.

Short lived as the show was, it fits your description pretty well.
posted by Benway at 7:26 AM on February 17, 2005


Harold and Maude
That's all I can think of right now.
posted by ODiV at 7:26 AM on February 17, 2005


Also, what heir/heiress/family would you consider to be the polar opposite of Paris, i.e., responsible, upstanding, relatively publicity-shy?

You might seach Google on "heir" and "philanthropy" to get started, e.g. Richard Goldman.
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2005


DICKIE ROBERTS!!
posted by svenskjenta at 7:31 AM on February 17, 2005


It only comprises a small--but important--part of the plot, but how about Soul Man?
posted by zardoz at 7:32 AM on February 17, 2005


There are the Eloise series of books (the kid lives in the Plaza hotel, ferchrissakes); the movie "Arthur" is kind of an extreme look at the overgrown man-child result of being rich & spoiled.
posted by contessa at 7:33 AM on February 17, 2005


I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV showcases a different spoiled, extremely wealthy (but not famous) teenager a week and their ridiculous birthday "bashes." More interesting than the actual parties are how the kids present themselves in all of the interviews/confessionals and act during the planning of the party...like they have no idea how ugly their personalities come out looking when broadcast on national tv.
posted by puffin at 7:33 AM on February 17, 2005


They're not camera-shy, but they did use the family wealth accumulated by Joe Sr. to go out and do good in the world instead of becoming investment bankers.

Fair enough. You were talking about money. I was thinking about some of the legal entanglements.
posted by Cyrano at 7:39 AM on February 17, 2005


Love For Lydia a TV series and novel by H. E Bates.

Emma by Jane Austin and the modernization, Clueless.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
posted by grumblebee at 7:40 AM on February 17, 2005


Clueless, that Alicia Silverstone movie

The Sweet Valley High books, if you count Lila Fowler as central character

The O.C.
posted by Kololo at 7:46 AM on February 17, 2005


Inherently, you aren't going to know who the really publicity-shy families unless you do some research.
posted by grouse at 7:47 AM on February 17, 2005


The Waltons don't seem to be too vocal about their Walmart fortune. I seem to recall it was a big deal when they gave an interview, but that could have been CNN hype.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:56 AM on February 17, 2005


Diff'rent Strokes!
posted by NortonDC at 8:02 AM on February 17, 2005


The main character in Maelstrom fits the bill. Actually, I mentioned in another thread that it's fun to watch the film and pretend that she is Paris Hilton.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:06 AM on February 17, 2005


Try Zac Goldsmith, multi-millionaire son of billionaire reactionary nationalist financier Sir James Goldsmith, he's a committed environmentalist, practices sustainable farming and runs the Ecologist magazine.
posted by biffa at 8:15 AM on February 17, 2005


Cruel Intentions is a version of Dangerous Liaisons, but with spoiled rich kids.

Jamie Johnson, the kid who did Born Rich, obviously isn't publicity-shy, but other than that he matches your criteria. The only one in that whole movie who didn't come off badly.
posted by smackfu at 8:16 AM on February 17, 2005


Citizen Kane. Hamlet. Mildred Pierce.

And for a sympathetic view, The Last Emperor.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:17 AM on February 17, 2005


Igby Goes Down

Born Rich (I think - HBO documentary)
posted by mzurer at 8:19 AM on February 17, 2005


On the subject of modest, upstanding heirs, who could forget Edward VIII?
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:22 AM on February 17, 2005


Ooh, Igby Goes Down is a good one.

There's always Violet from Willy Wonka. Violet, you're turning Violet, Violet!
posted by librarina at 8:33 AM on February 17, 2005


Violet wasn't rich; her father was a car salesman. You're thinking of Veruca Salt. /Wonka dokdom
posted by dame at 8:39 AM on February 17, 2005


Actually, most of Jane Austen's novels (and their movie/TV/DVD adaptations) fall in this category: Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, Julia & Maria in Mansfield Park, and certainly Emma all come to mind.

And of course, the later Darcy is the polar opposite of the early Darcy, which is interesting to think about.
posted by jhilton at 8:42 AM on February 17, 2005


As others have pointed out, Born Rich might fit the bill. It isn't fiction, but Born Rich is a rather eye-opening peek into the lives of the young, super-rich set.
posted by HiddenInput at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2005


What's your limit for being a kid? The Beautiful and the Damned and Jeeves and Wooster are good examples...
posted by plinth at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2005


What AlexReynolds said. Anything by Bret Easton Ellis. I'd say especially The Informers, as it's a whole cast of spoiled rich people, kids and adults.
posted by xmutex at 8:48 AM on February 17, 2005


Richie Rich and (possibly)[urban legend alert] his post-death incarnation as Casper the Friendly Ghost
posted by Duck_Lips at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2005


Thanks everybody. The OC and Born Rich take it.

Zac Goldsmith seems a good suggestion family-wise. Stella McCartney is another one that has been suggested to me privately.
posted by nyterrant at 8:54 AM on February 17, 2005


Don't forget that '80s classic Maid to Order.
posted by Cuppatea at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2005


I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Heathers, yet.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2005


Arrested Development is about a spoiled rich family with one, maybe two responsible members. It's also insanely funny.
posted by COBRA! at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2005


Growing Up Gotti, although it doesn't so much have a plot.
posted by teg at 8:58 AM on February 17, 2005


I'll second Bret Easton Ellis. Glamorama is nauseatingly good.

Dostoevsky's The Idiot also fits your bill.
posted by saladin at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2005


Oh my god i'm mortified that I didn't think of Igby Goes Down or Heathers. Two of my favouritist movies ever!

Besides, i could use Heathers as a short-cut explaination of my high school's social hierarchy, and Igby has a wicked soundtrack.
posted by Kololo at 9:22 AM on February 17, 2005


Empire of the Sun perhaps?
posted by verysleeping at 9:59 AM on February 17, 2005


Silver Spoons
posted by papercake at 10:23 AM on February 17, 2005


Don't forget Beverly Hills 90210. Kelly and Steve were pretty loaded.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2005


Paris Hilton's opposite is Julia Louise-Dreyfus, who has never made a peep, so far as I know, about her family's wealth. There was a great website comparing them, but I can't seem to find the link.
posted by symbebekos at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2005


I recommend Metropolitan. It's an excellent 1990 movie about a kid who's lower-middle-class, but manages to scam his way along in the world of Upper West Side debutantes and rich kids. Very entertaining, very intriguing. Great script, and the thrill of being a voyeur into this weird, exclusive world.
Stillman films, with their acerbic humor, are perhaps best on the second and third viewing. With their rapid-fire approach and their subtle dialog, it is easy to miss many of the lines the first time around. Subsequent looks are also helpful since one of the failings of Stillman's casting and his costuming is that most of the actors look alike and, to a lesser extent, so do the actresses. It may be halfway through before the audience learns to tell them all apart.

METROPOLITAN, we are told in the credits, is set in "Manhattan. Xmas Vacation. Not so long ago." A dilettante group of debutantes and their collective beaus are meeting for one of the many private parties during the social season. After the official balls, they gather to make small talk about large issues and generally gossip among themselves. They argue the fine points of 19th century socialism, while living a life of absolute luxury. They are all elitists, united in their agreement that they hate pretentious people and that they certainly aren't ones themselves.

posted by Miko at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2005


For a film try Society.
posted by biffa at 10:57 AM on February 17, 2005


movies:
Billy Madison (starring Adam Sandler, who is basically a kid)
Pretty in Pink (Andrew McCarthy character - again, pushing the "kid" boundary)
posted by hellbient at 11:29 AM on February 17, 2005


Batman?
posted by invisible ink at 11:48 AM on February 17, 2005


symbebekos, were you thinking of this page?
posted by alyxstarr at 12:10 PM on February 17, 2005


Stillman films, with their acerbic humor, are perhaps best on the second and third viewing

Piggie-back question: what the heck happened to Stillman?
posted by grumblebee at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2005


Maugham's Cakes and Ale.
posted by Pinwheel at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2005


Dude. Trading Places. Not so much a kid, there, but could you cut any closer to the heart of the matter?
posted by furiousthought at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2005


This whole thread is making me think of Francis in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Also there's My Man Godfrey -- don't know if that fits in with what you're looking for as there are multiple spoiled rich kids in that one.
posted by runtina at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2005


The Philadelphia Story or High Society.
And It Happened One Night.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:53 PM on February 17, 2005


Breakfast at Tiffany's?
posted by dmt at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2005


symbebekos, I was just about to post that. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is totally the anti-Paris Hilton. She's hardworking, well-educated, happily married to her college boyfriend with two kids, and stays out of trouble (and out of the public eye, more generally). And her family is very, very well-off; the Seinfeld royalties she gets are a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Another, more famous example would be Peggy Guggenheim, who may have been the greatest art collector and art patron of the 20th Century. And there's Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress and socialite, who had a very sad, lonely life, full of gold-digging husbands, and inspired a book and miniseries called "Poor Little Rich Girl".

A lot of the anti-Hilton anti-Trump type families would be unknown to the public--because, by definition, they are scrupulous about keeping their names out of the papers--though perhaps not the society columns--and off the Forbes lists.

Speaking of which, Steve Forbes (son of Malcom Forbes) deserves to be on the list if the Kennedy's are there too.

Aerin Lauder, the Estee Lauder heiress and socialite, is known for being unusually nice and down to earth. And for being pretty and having good taste in clothes and home decor and all that other socialite stuff.

Oh, and Anderson Cooper--the cute CNN talking head--is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:59 PM on February 17, 2005


Also, there was a recent cover story in New York Magazine about the three Trump kids, looking at their wacky childhoods and concluding that they all turned out, surprisingly, very down-to-earth and smart and hard-working, despite having inherited their parents' showy personalities--and, of course, lots of money. Worth a read.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2005


Bret Easton Ellis is definitely a good bet, but I prefer The Rules of Attraction to Less Than Zero. And of course there are corresponding films for each book.

Also, don't forget The Secret History by Brett's compatriot, Dona Tartt.
posted by Clay201 at 4:18 PM on February 17, 2005


You could also look at the Gossip Girl books, too. The film version, starring Lindsay Lohan, is due out sometime this year or next.

I swear I'm not like, fifteen...
posted by lnicole at 5:35 PM on February 17, 2005


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