Saturday 24 Sep 2016

False Equivalency
AJ Robinson

Recently a certain multi-billionaire had the audacity to write an Op-Ed piece claiming how put-upon the rich are. I thought I might pen a reply.

Dear Sir … I read with great incredulity your recent editorial. I would laugh at your views on how the rich are being abused, if it weren’t so sad just how brutal things are for the rest of us. I should like to tell you a story to illustrate the false equivalency you seem determined to present. No matter how bad you think things are for you folks up there at the tippy top, they cannot begin to compare to how things are for us way down here at the very bottom.

A couple years back, I saw a movie called “The Devil Wears Prada.” Anne Hathaway portrayed Andrea or “Andy.” The “Devil,” Miranda, head of the beauty magazine “Runway,” was portrayed by Meryl Streep. There were two other main characters in the office: Miranda’s Number One Secretary, Emily, portrayed, ironically, by Emily Blunt, and Nigel, portrayed by the fine actor Stanley Tucci. One of the main aspects of the film was the big trip to Paris and Emily, as lead secretary, thought she was going. Miranda elects to take Andy. Miranda tells Andy she must tell Emily she’s not going. If not, Andy will lose her job. It breaks her heart, but she does it.

Later, in Paris, Andy learns that the publisher is planning to replace Miranda, and she tries to warn her. For some strange reason, she’s actually loyal to Miranda, which, in my opinion, is a lot better than she deserves. At the same time, Nigel is excited about a new position he’s going to get at another magazine. Then, came the big dinner, Miranda announces the big change: the lady that was lined up to take over “Runway” is getting the position Nigel was promised. He’s devastated, but believes that someday Miranda will make it up to him. At least, that’s what he tells himself in order to get on with his life and career.

Andy is likewise upset at the outcome, but Miranda is quite smug. She tells Andy that she merely did to Nigel exactly what Andy did to Emily! Andy is dumbstruck and denies it, but gets all flustered and eventually leaves Miranda. Not merely physically but also quits her job. Had I been the screenwriter for that film, I would not have let it end like that. No, I would have had Andy tell Miranda off, big time. Here’s what she should have said:

“Miranda, don’t for a second claim we’re alike. I’m a minor secretary who’s been with your company for less than a year. If I’d refused to do as you told me, I’d have lost my job. I have no savings or resources. What company would hire me, with such a black mark on my resume? As for you, you have wealth, position and power. You could have walked away from ‘Runway’ with your head held high, retired, spent time with your family, wrote your memoir or even gone to work at another magazine. Instead, what did you do? You tossed your most loyal employee under the bus merely so you could hang onto power for a few more years.

Do you know that Nigel forgives you? He believes that you’ll make it up to him someday. Me, I don’t believe that for an instant. If it comes down to it again, you’ll screw him over again, and you’ll do the same to me and anyone else. Now I understand why your husband is leaving you.

All you love is power, Miranda. Well, power makes a poor lover and an even worse soul mate. I hope someday you learn that, but I doubt it.”

Thus, dear sir, I hope you take this little tale to heart and learn something. Yeah, okay, you and the other “one-percenters” have trials and tribulations. Yet, do not for a second think they’re what we face; literal survival is not on your menu. Your worst day is about a hundred times better than our best. Stop your whining!

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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