The Children Of The Ritz
This is Hero Beauregard Faulkner Fiennes-Tiffin, who is an actor/model and salt-of-the-earth working class lad…joking, I’m joking. Hero is from acting royalty, and seen here wearing everything we were told to stay away from. Yet he somehow owns the look, even if the look is Jobless Man Answering Door to Debt Collector.
Also here on the page somewhere is Damien Hurley, Elizabeth Hurley’s son, also a model, looking alarmingly like mid-sixties Raquel Welch. ‘How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in’t!’ etc.
What interests me is that these looks are no longer extreme or even vaguely unusual. I hadn’t really appreciated what had happened until I started researching Generation Z; those born between the mid-1990s and early-2000s.
Yesterday I was persuaded back to Soho House, Barcelona, for a sunset cocktail and found myself in the midst of the ‘Children of the Ritz’ (cf. Nöel Coward – ‘mentally congealed lilies of the field’), ie. the wealthy young. Soho House has encouraged this tribe for years by lowering membership fees for them. My friends, being inevitably middle-aged and not rich, railed against this other Generation Z, the ones not committed to #MeToo and social change, the ones who play at being something in film or music, who drift from the ski lodges to the beaches on the backs of their Instagram accounts.
As I’m not the kind of person who would ever snap his fingers at a waitress I feel quite uncomfortable in this seething hotbed of youthful entitlement. The new wealth gap is now wider than it has ever been, but at least the Victorians exercised forms of philanthropy.
This other Gen Z seems less interested in social connection than gazing at its reflection. A few days ago I watched a Japanese couple in wedding regalia having their photos taken outside shacks brightly painted by poor fishermen, as if the working class have merely become a backdrop for the leisured mirror-gazers. The rise of instant selfie photoshopping means that the mirror now functions rather more like the the one owned by the wicked queen in Snow White, fearfully improving what it sees. Just like fake news, the mirror now lies.
And just as the UK’s colonial past treated its subjects as mere parts of the supply chain for British dinner tables, so the other Gen Z, the one that doesn’t care about the Climate Emergency or human rights, can vampirize their poorer cousins without fear of reprisal because, again cf. Nöel Coward – ‘Whatever crimes the proletariat commits, it can’t be beastly to the children of the Ritz’. In the absence of real journalists, our national press fills up with aspirational photoshoots of the rich inheritors – pretty mirrors that fail to reflect anything at all.
All this comes as I consider creating a Gen Z character and try to sidestep the pitfalls of cliché. But who do I go with, the portfolio-careerist who works for a charity, the kind humanist or the Children of the Ritz?