Poor little rich girl or jealous hoi polloi?

Unspun was agog when he came across a mention of this videoclip in Mr Brown’s Facebook newsfeed. Being in Indonesia Unspun’s used to seeing over-the-top events but this birthday party for a girl turning sweet 16 takes the cake.

(note: the person who posted this video has taken it private so you can’t view it. But you can see screen grabs of the video from this site)

Unspun’s first impulse was: “What a spoilt rich kid!” But that would have been unfair to the birthday girl Vanessa. She probably doesn’t know any better and having a silver spoon in her mouth is probably the most natural thing where she is concerned.

This reminds Unspun of a conversation he had once with a scion from one of Indonesia’s uber-rich families. When he heard Unspun lament about how ostentiously Indonesian children are being brought up these days, he sheepishly admitted that he was one of them.

“When I reached driving age my father asked me what car I would like to have,” he said. “I, of course told him I wanted a Mercedes-Benz because to me that was a car that we’d naturally select.” A Toyota, Kijang or Nissan was simply not part of the consideration.

He did say, however, by justification that his father was a pragmatist: “Son, you are enjoying this because we have money now. One day we may not have the money and when that happens just be glad that you got to enjoy what money could get you when it lasted.”

As far as I could gather, they continued to have money and he continues to enjoy the finer things that money can buy. No for him a lesson in come uppance from Heaven by striking him and his family poor.

This incident ricochets in Unspun’s mind when he was watching the video of Vanessa’s 16th birthday. There is nothing wrong in enjoying what money can bring you. And if you or your dad has nots of it, is it wrong to enjoy what lots of dough can bring you?

Is it more wrong for Vanessa’s dad to splurge on his daughter to this extent than a middle class family would celebrate their daughter’s birthday in, say, Pizza Hut? The latter would seem lavish if you are an Indonesian slum dweller. It all depends on your perspective.

Unspun‘s not so concerned about that but about whether Vanessa’s parents, regardless of their good intentions, is actually doing her a favour or ruining her life.

If she gets a birthday part of this scale and magnificence, what must her perception of the world be like? What would she expect from life?

How would she develop the compassion for other human beings less fortunate than her – and they must be legion, judging from the wealth the family must have.

How would she know who are her true friends? In the video, many of her friends were wishing her all the best in life. When you are that rich and that ostentatious about it, how would you know if they are hanging out with you for your money, the “prestige” of being seen with the privileged or really for your character.

Speaking of character, how does someone of that privileged league develop their characters? Hardship, deprivation, making do with less are certainly not shapers here. What are?

Another thing that Unspun‘s curious about is how this Vanessa would cope if, for some reason or another, the family’s money runs out? Would she be philosophical like my rich friend’s father or be unable to cope, should her life be stripped of money and its trappings?

Is there grist for the mill here for well-heeled Indonesian parents or is Unspun missing the whole point because he belongs to the hoi polloi?

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