Spider-Man: Just Another Fat Cat Icon?

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Spider-Man: Just Another Fat Cat Icon?

It's hard to reconcile extravagance of any kind right now. It reeks of disrespect and disconnection. The tax cut deal President Obama cut with Republicans in the Senate is one example. How can anyone justify helping the rich get richer and increasing the abyss of wealth disparity in our country?

Senator Bernie Sanders put his foot down last Friday in a faux filibuster. He was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown and Mary Landrieu. I don't often agree with anything Landrieu has to offer, but she ponied up some statistics that are worth noting.

When it comes to the median net worth of American households, here's the breakdown: whites - $87,000; Hispanics - $8,000; blacks - $5,000. And that's taking home ownership into account. Blacks without homes drop their worth to a mere $1,000. (The median across all ethnicities is $67,000.)

So, there's that. And then there are the bonuses being doled out to Wall Street executives who oversaw this whole mess from start to wherever it is we are now. Elizabeth Warren, who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, always gets it right.

She explains her perspective like this: “For me, what an economic recovery is about is about what happens to American families. It’s what happens in the real economy. It’s whether or not families are building up wealth in their homes or whether or not their homes are dragging them over an economic cliff.

“It isn’t meaningful to talk about profits and a growing economy until American families are stabilized,” she said.

Obviously, if Landrieu's stats are anywhere near real, that stabilization isn't.

Even outside the political realm, lavish spending seems like a slap in the face to John Q. Public. Look at the $65 million spent to produce Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. It's the most expensive Broadway musical ever staged, doubling the cost of Shrek the Musical. If it's a success to the same tune as Wicked and The Lion King, it will still take about four years to recoup that initial investment. And that's with ticket prices topping $100 each.

Bono, who composed the play's music along with band mate The Edge, seems to have a justification: "These are hard times for a lot of people. It's the middle of a recession. If you're going out for a night, it better be a great one.

"U2 for years tried to push the boundaries of what was possible in a live arena," he continued. "Everyone knows that going to a U2 show, we're going to do something a bit different. We're going to have thought about it and we're going to spend a lot of cash on it, to be crass."

Yeah, well, for a family of four to go see Spider-Man, they'd have to shell out $400 just for seats. That's not including dinner, refreshments, transportation and/or parking, etc. Add that all in and it's probably more like $600 for one night on the town. For most families, that would be at least two weeks worth of groceries.

Maybe Mitch McConnell, John Mack, Brian Moynihan, and all the other fat cats should at least spring for the cab that's driving us over that economic cliff.


Comments [16]

Tex's picture

I'm with you, K-Mac!

How about those backers take that $65 million and produce theater programs in public schools? or produce 65 $ 1 million dollar off broadway shows, employ thousands and make theater available to more? or foot the bill for 2,166 art/music/theater teachers ($65 mil divided by $30K)? or fund 1,000 ($65 mil divided by $65K) art/music/theater college scholarships? and on and on and on. 

If the rich are going to be allowed to keep most of their money, then it's high time that the rich step up and take responsibility for being rich - spread the wealth they have made from us. If Americans don't reverse the greed cycle, we are done!

http://images.forbes.com/media/assets/rl/icons.png); background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: initial; color: #000000; text-decoration: none; cursor: pointer; background-position: 100% -197px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat; margin: 0px; border: 0px initial initial;">RankNameNet WorthAgeResidenceSource


Bill Gates

$54 B
Medina, WA


Warren Buffett

$45 B
Omaha, NE
Berkshire Hathaway


Larry Ellison

$27 B
Woodside, CA


Christy Walton

$24 B
Jackson, WY


Charles Koch

$21.5 B
Wichita, KS
manufacturing, energy


David Koch

$21.5 B
New York , NY
manufacturing, energy


Jim Walton

$20.1 B
Bentonville, AR


Alice Walton

$20 B
Fort Worth, TX


S. Robson Walton

$19.7 B
Bentonville, AR


Michael Bloomberg

Twitter Time @kdhales

bekcat's picture

Surely you can't be suggesting backing the Arts!

Why them's fightin' words in D.C.!!!


How about musical instruments for elementary school kids and let them start band at 4th grade instead of 7th?

It is what it is.

Tex's picture

Hey there, you!

Good idea about the band instruments! You get it! 

I was editing my comment to show the worth of the top ten wealthiest people in America, but it didn't post correctly - at least the money part came out right. Look at all that money! And yes, I know some of them do their share of providing money to causes (I'll never gripe about Bill Gates and his giving). But geezy, they could all give way more. I mean how many houses can you live in at one time? How many cars can you drive at one time? 

It's time to spread the wealth!

The BU thingy is nice. I'm back home and Lakey still needs to pay off her bet......just so you'll know, I've already given her the big smooch for the twitter tweets!


Twitter Time @kdhales

SMBrown's picture

Bufffet is giving away 99% of

Bufffet is giving away 99% of his wealth (I believe Gates is doing the same) and has lived in the same house, in Omaha, that he purchased for $31,000 way back when...

And the initiative Robin refers to below is the Giving Pledge, and Bloomberg and Ellison (and Rockefeller and Turner) have committed to giving away at least half of their wealth.  Doubt we'll be seeing the Koch brothers on the list any time soon--they'd rather use their money to pollute the world and deny average joes access to affordable health care.  

Robin Rigby's picture

Have you heard about the

Have you heard about the program that Warren Buffett started to get the super wealthy to donate 40% of their wealth? He's not getting a ton of push-back. Most agree pretty quickly and apparently their children often push the ones who don't give it up so easily. I think it's awfully nice to hear that there are kids who don't feel the entitlement that was so prevalent amongst children of wealthy parents in the past. Maybe the next generation will change things.

Tex's picture

Let's hope so...

heard about Buffett....maybe he should keep all his investment decisions secret....only give them to those that cough up the 40%.

How you doing, Robin? Did you see where Piper Perabo was nominated for a Golden Globe for Covert Affairs?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Robin Rigby's picture

He's not called "The Oracle

He's not called "The Oracle of Omaha" for nothing. His secret isn't really a secret, it's just that he's a genius at it. 

I never even knew who the guy was until I went to work for one of his companies. I respect how he doesn't take his wealth for granted, that he recognizes that our tax system is unfair to the vast majority of us and that he is doing what he can to help others. 

I saw her saying that she was shocked to be nominated. I haven't watched the show since the first couple of episodes. Did it improve? Did they stop making her be rescued by men? 

bekcat's picture

Yeah, I have always had a

Yeah, I have always had a major problem with de-funding of the arts, especially at the elementary school level. Starting kids in band in 7th grade is an issue because it is a major growth time for them...coordination becomes an issue and that makes it harder for them to learn something like that. These kids in band end up, for the most part, better in math than their counterparts who are not in music. Seems to me an easy choice to fund.

Tell Lake if I can put up the BU logo, surely she can pay off her bet. This is tough!!

It is what it is.

Conlite's picture

7th grade? 4th grade?  I

7th grade? 4th grade?  I remember we were 7 years old when we were asked to pick our orchestral instruments in school.  Most had already been having recorder lessons for a year or two.  UK public education is way different to the US!

(I picked guitar, and then found out you couldn't play that in the orchestra.  Should've known then I was going to grow up different!)

Tex's picture

I'll tell her... she will!

Got one for you. When my mom and I were watching the UT/BU bball game in the Amtrak lounge in Chicago....Britney blocked her 8th shot and an old geezer said, "They need to test her hormones." We have go such a looooonnnnnng way to go in this country!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Conlite's picture

Yes, but.... Isn't this play

Yes, but....

Isn't this play a way to get mega-rich people to pay to support actors, musicians, etc?

I agree this play is definately out of the reach of regular peoples' budgets.  However, does this lock people out of going to the theater, or simply give small, not-Broadway productions a chance of snagging an audience?

Robin Rigby's picture

So this Broadway show is

So this Broadway show is expensive and tickets prices are outrageous- That's nothing new. I don't really see how it relates to our economic mess.

I'm not in the $87k net worth and I don't go to see Broadway shows. Wouldn't even if I lived in NY as it's not my thing. 

Kelly McCartney's picture

Just an example

Showing the disconnection between people at the different ends of the economic spectrum. Many people have to think about where they spend each dollar rather than say, "hey, let's stage the most expensive musical in history during the toughest financial times we've seen."

That was all.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword

SMBrown's picture

Interestingly enough, the

Interestingly enough, the book for this show is supposedly HORRIBLE and within a month of opening they are desperately trying to script-doctor it.  Most of the money has gone to the technical side of the production, trying to do stuff in the the theater that is better left to film--or the circus.  But even with all the high-flying special effects and rad music, if the story sucks the play will bomb.  Long live playwrights!

Robin Rigby's picture

Don't you think the

Don't you think the disconnect is between people who can afford to go see such a show and those who can't? Artists often are struggling as much as the rest of us. And on this site that champions art so regularly to use art as an example of what's wrong with this country seems itself wrong.

Kelly McCartney's picture


I think, in the Spidey case and others, the disconnection is between the people mounting the production (producers, director, investors) and the people who can't afford to buy the tickets. So, yes, the issue is with the art itself because it's a byproduct of wealth. Heck, even actors are starting to not-quite-boycott the thing because of all the injuries. Just seems they bit off more than they can chew on this one.

Won't you be my neighbor? @theKELword