Ronan Farrow's Blueprint
How does Ronan Farrow find time to do all the things he does? He is the author of the upcoming War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. He has a regularly updated Twitter account, with over 437,000 followers. “I worked on it for 5 years,” he tweeted about his book. “Every living Sec State went on record. It's a personal story of loss and hope that exposes something frightening that we can still fix.” The book is set to be released April 24th.
Since October, he has been a contributor to The New Yorker, author of several path breaking, hard hitting articles detailing the ways in which powerful men in America abuse women. His latest reveals The National Enquirer’s system of marginalizing women that might want to speak of their sexual relations with the President. “Six former employees of AMI, the media company that purchased the exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, said that purchasing stories to bury them was a tactic favored by the company, and that it afforded influence over the subjects of the story - in this case, the President,” is how he characterized it on Twitter (to over 1200 retweets)
Who is this boy genius?
Farrow comes from a background of glamour and prosperity. His mother is Mia Farrow, his father is Woody Allen (though there have been rumors that his father might be Frank Sinatra). He is a former Rhodes scholar and lawyer, who has had a show on MSNBC. And he was, at age 11, the youngest student ever to enroll in Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Mass. He is also modest. Of his stories for The New Yorker exposing the abuses of powerful men, he has described himself as merely a “conduit.”
Ronan Farrow is actually making America better, leveraging his privilege, his inherited wealth and celebrity in a good way. Now, in contrast, think about, say the Kardashian clan. The Kardashians are famous for essentially spending money, going to parties, and having messy sex lives. This is precisely the sort of idle rich behavior that, when coupled with the raising the exemption to the estate tax, lead to seething rage and calls of inequality. Add to all of this the fact that while wealth inequality has existed for 11,000 years, wealth inequality in America at this point in time is perhaps the greatest in the history of civilization.
Inequality is a potentially politically destabilizing issue in America. “America boasts the highest post-tax-and-transfer income inequality of any highly developed country in the world,” said The Economist recently. Social scientists refer that to the Gini coefficient, an index for measuring income distribution among nations. At 0.42 America's post-tax-and-transfer inequality handily beats that of Britain and Canada. Further, it is becoming evident that growing inequality is hurting growth -- which hurts people on the lower end of the income distribution chart. "In 2014 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a collective of the world's 35 wealthiest countries including the United States, found that rising inequality in the United States from 1990 to 2010 knocked about five percentage points off cumulative GDP per capita over that period,” the Washington Postnoted.
How are the poor and middle classes supposed to toe the line and get behind civic norms when the second-and third generations of wealth are so useless? As wealth disparity increases at historic levels, our present images of wealth involve the increasingly erratic behavior of Real Housewives. This is where the productivity and moral seriousness of a Ronan Farrow is key – his career to date is quite simply the perfect blueprint for the blue-blooded, a way to make America better using the advantages they were born into. What if more socialites heeded the call to being productive.
Ronan Farrow is more natural aristocrat than hereditary aristocrat. He has had great advantages – a top flight education, a strong social network of wealthy and powerful people, a largely happy and prosperous childhood – and those advantages make him a formidable enemy to the enemies of America. He also has a natural platform – as a Farrow, as an Allen, as a possible Sinatra. 42,000 people follow him on Facebook; he has over 54,000 followers on Instagram.
It should be noted that all of the Kardashians have greater social media followers than Ronan Farrow, even Rob. Even Blac China. As JFK once said – before his assassination – the world isn’t fair. And yet, with all their fame, what have the Kardashian clan done to give back to an America that favored them with such vast generational advantages? “I understood that it is possible in this society for the most powerful and wealthy people to manipulate and bury the truth," he told Gail King. And he is making a career countering that influence with his own.
Ronan was close to sexual abuse as a child. That proximity has focused him on a mission that is not just “making America great again” – retrograde and nostalgic verbiage, to be sure– but rather making America better. That is what this country needs in the face of growing, politically unsustainable inequality. It is hard to feel envy for someone who is so productive and useful to his country. If only more of the wealthy and powerful gave back, with the same ethic, to the nation and the people who gave them so much at the of thier journey.