Born Rich (documentary)

May 17, 2013

As the rich get richer, their children live lives of abundance. One wealthy American family decided to make this point perfectly clear by naming their son “Lavish.”  Considering his behavior, though, perhaps the parents should have named him “Obnoxious” instead: he  openly boasts about his wealth on his instagram account (eloquently named “itslavishbitch“), he uses gold-plated staples, and shows off flying around the world with his family’s private jet.

Lavish is just one of a growing number of insanely wealthy teenagers who are, contrary to their rather secretive plutocrat parents, not shy to show off their assets. These kids grow up rich, and rather than ride soapbox racers they drive their parent’s luxury sports cars. Instead of  playing with doll houses they play inside a “Petite Maison Brick Tudor Playhouse“.

But how does it actually feel to be one of them: to be born rich, to know that you will never have to work in your lifetime,  and to know that you have done nothing to deserve your wealth and privilege?

Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson family, one of the wealthiest families in the US, knows what it feels like. In the documentary aptly named “Born Rich,” Jamie Johnson explores the meaning of that phrase, as only someone in his situation could do. He documents a series of interesting and sometimes difficult conversations with his family members and with other members of “his class.” These conversations nicely reveal the vanity and shallowness but also unhappiness of some of these people. 

The purpose of this documentary however is not to trash his family or friends, but to provide a window into  lives that would otherwise remain hidden from public view. Definitely worth watching.

Jamie Johnson later went on to film another documentary, “The One Percent“, which reveals further details of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. There, especially one of the interviewees, Chuck Collins, is a remarkable man, who is on a crusade to get other rich people to push for higher tax rates on themselves. Through discussions with Collins and others, the both documentaries raise some important questions concerning justice and morality.

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