Over the weekend I was reading The Guardian Weekly. An article caught my eye. Now, I try to keep off the topic off politics online. So, although the article by George Monbiot is “Ultra-rich suffer from bad case of Romnesia” I don’t actually want to talk about its social critique as such. You are free to agree or throw tomatoes at the screen when he says:
Rich lists are stuffed with people who either inherited their money or who made it through rent-seeking activities: by means other than innovation and productive effort. They’re a catalogue of speculators, property barons, dukes, IT monopolists, loan sharks, bank chiefs, oil sheikhs, mining magnates, oligarchs and chief executives paid out of all proportion to any value they generate. Looters, in short.
Okay, so either you think these people create wealth or, like Monbiot, think they just siphon it off … the point is, doesn’t the list look like a list of alpha heroes? That’s what struck me.
And then Monbiot ended the article with:
A century ago, entrepreneurs sought to pass themselves off as parasites: they adopted the style and manner of the titled, rentier class. Today the parasites claim to be entrepreneurs.
Hmm. I know it’s not a revelation: the lords and dukes of Regency novels are the CEOs and billionaires of contemporary romances. But it kind of was a revelation for me. I’m thinking through what it means when we frame romance novels as fantasies. Do we look for heroes who don’t actually have to work — is that our fantasy as readers?
Of course, there are lots of romances where it is the hero’s work that defines him – the defence force heroes, the policemen, the whole protectors/guardians theme, or the medical romances where the doctor is a hero. But still, there are plenty of Cinderella themes where the hero is a prince.
I always thought the appeal of the lordly alpha hero was that he was top of the pyramid. Now I’m wondering if the appeal is also that he doesn’t have to build the pyramid, he just lounges there like Pharaoh, supervising.
I’m still thinking on the question, but I thought I’d share it. And if you go along with Monbiot’s critique, it’s interesting to consider that these lordly alphas are merely parasites!