Are Romantic Comedies About Love or Money?

Posted on November 9, 2014 at 8:00 am

I really enjoyed this essay by Meredith Haggerty at Medium about the way that romantic comedies have dealt with money issues through the years. Of course, all movies reflect the economic environment of their eras — the eras in which they are made as much as the eras they are depicting. The most astute reviews of “Magic Mike” noted that it was as much about the recession economy as it was about male strippers.

I recently watched a few episodes of a late 1980’s romantic comedy and was amused by the many elements of the storyline that were as radically different from today’s world as the awful 80’s clothes and hairstyles. There were plenty of jobs available in journalism, for one thing. Airplane travel was very different. Though they had small, primitive computers, this was long before Google and Wikipedia, so when asked a research question, the characters still looked in books for the answer.

Haggerty compares the heiress and the commoner era of the Depression (“Bringing Up Baby,” “My Man Godfrey”) with the Meg Ryan era (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail”) and the “Recession Romances” of films like “Obvious Child” and “Enough Said.” I love this graphic from Mark Nerys.

Copyright 2014 Mark Nerys
Copyright 2014 Mark Nerys
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Legendary_20American_Investor_Warren_Buffett.jpg

The Oracle of Omaha’s Lessons for Children

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Legendary_ American_Investor_Warren_Buffett.jpgThe greatest investor in history is Warren Buffett, the only man ever to become a billionaire only through investing. He is giving the vast majority of his fortune to charity through the Gates Foundation.
Mr. Buffett’s investment advice has produced best-sellers (written by other people). His aphorisms are reverently repeated — and, if they had been followed, would have prevented the financial meltdown that still has our economy reeling.
Now Mr. Buffett has decided that the next generation needs to do better than the current one in understanding finance and economics. And so, he has created a terrific website for kids that explains the basic concepts of business and investing and lets them join his Secret Millionaire’s Club. Participants get $2000 in “Buffett Bucks” to invest. The investments are pretend, but the companies are real, including many companies kids know and will enjoy learning about like Google and Build-a-Bear. Kids can evaluate investment strategies and see how they do. And there are stories, games, and videos to explain business principles like location and advertising and even a chance to send Mr. Buffett a question of your own. The animated Buffett, like the real one, reminds kids to tell the truth and work hard and that “the more you learn, the more you’ll earn.”
I highly recommend this to all kids — and if their parents want to sign up for a few lessons, I can promise it will be well worth it.
NOTE: I also recommend the sensational audio magazine Boomerang, which has the best explanations of economic principles I have ever heard along with features about books, history, travel, jokes, and best of all the childhood memories of founder Dave Schmave.

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Talking to Children about Poverty

Posted on October 15, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Families may find that their children have picked up some of the concerns about the economy from the news or overheard adult conversations. They will need to be reassured that even if their families have suffered some financial setbacks, they have all of the love and courage they need to keep them safe. And they will also need to be reassured that there is something they can do to help those who are less fortunate.
This summer’s American Girls movie, Kit Kittredge, is a very good way to begin a conversation with children about the current economic problems and their consequences. I particularly appreciate the way that it makes clear that the homeless characters are less fortunate but no less filled with dignity, decency, and humanity. The range of responses to poverty depicted in the film gives families a lot to talk about. So does the way that even the poorest find ways to help others in need.
Slate has a superb discussion of children’s books that discuss poverty by Erica S. Perl. From classics like Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Little House on the Prairie, and Ramona and Her Father to more recent books like Spuds, these stories give families a chance to talk about difficult issues with that all-important distance because it is happening to other people at other times.
And Perl includes that most irrepressibly sunny survivor of hard times, Annie , who reminds us that even the most hard-knock life will be sunnier “Tomorrow.”

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