How is Wealth in America Portrayed in the Media

Television shows and movies serve as an extremely influential aspect of today’s society. For this reason, the messages they provide—whether outward or subliminal—play a huge role in the decisions that we make, as well as our own beliefs about societal “norms.”


  1. The media alone is a great part of todays society that has expanded so quickly in the past few years especially in America. Some may be living the so called "American dream" and are financially comfortable, while others are extremly poor. However, what we primarily see in the media is the lifestyle of the extreme rich and famous. Wealth and fame can be seen anywhere on television, in the news and in magazines. This lifestyle may be unrealistic to many, but Americans are fascinated with money and lavish lifestyles.
  2. Many different television shows glorify extreme wealth in such a way that the general population may be led to believe that this is are realistic lifestyle for a typical American. For example, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which has aired several extremely successful seasons, features a glamorous family who achieved famewith very little effort. Through the actions and behaviors of the family’s children, as well as the coast-to-coast mansions and luxurious properties, the family members do not seem to understand the value of the amount of money that they have. While many viewers consider the family to be“obnoxious,” the numbers do not lie—the show attracts an average of 2 million viewers for every newly aired episode. It is estimated that the family’s worth currently hovers around $80 million dollars.
  4. In addition, “Real Housewives” features women from different areas of the country who are millionaires themselves or married to wealthy men and therefore can enjoy the luxuries of a multi-millionaire lifestyle without having to work. The title alone suggeststhat the “housewives” depicted in the show are living a typical life. In reality, it is unlikely that these women are relatable to most of the average American “housewives.” Even though every family in America’s duties differ from home to home, most families require both parents to work. Not only are many of the women in the show unemployed, but they indulge in luxuries that many of us could never even fathom. The above picture is a photograph from a "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" husband, Maurico Umansky, married to Kyle Richards Umansky (a housewife on the show), posing with their daughter Portia infront of their private plane. Many times in the show, the couple charters their plane to wherever they wish for manny different reasons. Not many families have the luxury of traveling,, never min having a plane and treating it like a car.
  6. Not all of the television shows glorifying extreme wealth highlight individuals and families with celebrity status. Others, such as “My Super-Sweet 16” and “MTV Cribs” follow individuals who are less in the public eye. These families own homes with indoor pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, private beaches, bowling allies, and manyother extravagances. The video is a clip from the show “MTV Cribs” and showcases rapper Lil Wayne’s 10 million dollar mansion. On the television show "My Super-Sweet 16" it shows birthday parties that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These parties are often culminated with a gift of a brand new sports car, presented to a spoiled child stamping their feet if it is the wrong color, not the average sixteen year old's birthday party.
  7. Aside from reality television programming, scripted and fictional television shows very rarely show the realistic financial struggles that families often face. For example,“Full House” featured a blended family with three children ranging in age from toddler to teen. While the family featured many dramatic situations, they rarely, if ever, were told that they would not be able to participate in a particular activity due to financial restraints.
  8. While the television programs previously mentioned glorify wealth in our society, other shows highlight the opposite extremes. “Extreme Cheapskates” shows families who havemade ultimate sacrifices to alleviate debt and pinch pennies. Above, are some examples that people have tweeted after watching the show and their views about the length these people will go to save money. From reusable toilet paper to extreme couponing, the tone of the show suggests that these families are taking unusual and unnecessary steps to cut corners.
  9. Forbes Magazine is the American business magazine run by Forbes, Incorporated. The magazine includes articles about finances, investing, leadership, entrepreneurs and how to invest money properly. Thistype of magazine is published biweekly and is easily accessible online or inprint. This specific incorporation even shows anyone in the world how much money someone has. On the website you can see the overall richest people, how old they are, what they do for work, how much money they make and where they are from. The website even goes so far as their advertisements on the website are directed toward people with money. The website and magazine advertises extremely expensive watches, clothes and sports cars, something the average American family can’t afford. Forbes Inc. and the magazine itself is associated with the lifestyle of the rich and famous and is a household magazine that can be found on the coffee table in many billionaires homes.
  10. Another form of media that portrays wealth, is the music industry. Many rappers use their songs to tell everyone about their money, cars, jewelry, expensive alcohols and lavish lifestyle that they live. The lyrics are very vulgar and explicit to many, but they still portray a lifestyle that not the average American leads. Young people often think that this is the life of rappers because this is how they express their lifestyle; through lyrics.
  11. Lorde - Royals (US Version)
  12. Even pop stars and pop songs are portraying a lifestyle that people wish for. The song "Royals" by Lorde, explains how the average person is intrigued about the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but knows it is an unreachable goal and fantasy for many. Her lyrics say “ And we’ll never be royals (royals). It don’t runin our blood, that kind of luxe just ain’t for us. We crave a different kind of buzz. Let me be your ruler (ruler), you can call me queen bee and baby I’llrule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule. Let me live that fantasy.” Here, she implies that that lifestyle is a fantasy but everyone does think about it.
  13. Golden Globes Red Carpet Interviews: Jake Gyllenhaal, Helena Bonham Carter, Heather Morris
  14. Many different awards shows, such as the Oscars, the Grammys, and the AMA awards, attempt to show celebrities in a different aspect of their lives. In the attempt to “humanize” celebrities and show them with their day-to-day personalities, the shows feature million-dollar gowns and individually tailored suits, as well as thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of elegant jewelry and shoes. As viewers criticize the outfit choices of A-list celebrities, we are also encouraged to replicate their images despite the fact that one outfit could cost a year’s salary.