The finer side of materialism

Here’s the synopsis of a mildly interesting program on Ch 5, starring Dick and Denise:

Have the dough, but can’t decide how best to spend it?

The first of its kind here, The Finer Side is your guide to high-end living so luxurious, chic and decadently sleek, you will be so bowled over, you’d want to do headflips into your hot tub.

Hosted by the novel combination of Dick Lee and Denise Keller, The Finer Side will feature an over-qualified guest personality every week – ranging from popular celebrities to hoteliers to fashionistas to millionaires – who come on the show every week and are coaxed into dishing out loads of personal recommendations and tips on fine dining, exclusive products, services and glamorous social events.

Learn how to throw a fabulous party, find out the best places to go on a shopping spree to, look like a million bucks, indulge in a luxurious weekend… it’s all here!

Along the way, the less lucky among us will also get to steal peeks into how the rich and the famous lead their lives.


And someone wrote a letter to ST Forum on Saturday…

I question the intention and morality of this programme, which has absolutely no social relevance whatsoever, other than exalting materialism and engendering envy. It is self-indulging and obscene, to say the least, when the price tag of a $1,800 facial or a $10,000 dress is blatantly listed at the end of each segment.

Its dubiousness lies in the fact that it is cloaked as an info-educational programme on the high life in Singapore. But look deeper and the inevitable question surfaces: in what way is showing two sleek Ferraris owned by a successful interior-design consultant or a $6.5 million yacht informative or remotely educational, as these are way beyond the imagination of the majority of the population?

Frankly I hate the show myself (makes me feel even poorer than I usually feel) but this letter is kinda thought-provoking.

Such shows are blatant advertorials but it’s nothing different from Lifestyles of The Rich And Famous (which was way more interesting as local rich tarts often seem so self-conscious). The good thing is – if you don’t like it, switch off lah. One look at Denise Keller’s ugly pout and I just press the remote. The rich people are actually quite pleasant when contrasted with her preening.

And honestly, it’s all about spending power. If I had the dough, I won’t think twice about spending on a Lexus instead of an ordinary Corolla Altis. Why should I care about what others think of my spending habits when it’s simply within my means?

But back to “engendering envy” among the ordinary folk – is it not worse when the media put forward articles which subtly promote materialism and elitism while pretending to be on the moral high ground? When newspapers and magazines embrace high-end products and talk about them as if everyone could afford it (ironic, given most writers are poorly paid), isn’t it  more dangerous for the always-impressionable young? Oh when they lament  about the world/country’s disenfranchised poor on one page, and then do a smoozhy high-society page in the next section?

(Yes, I do tech reviews of expensive products, but my dear, I have to return all the goodies I test. And I won’t fawn over a Vertu and call it so “within your reach”!)

In any case, from a Christian point of view, such programs actually reinforce the idea that you can’t store up your earthly treasures for heaven. What’s the point of having so many things in the house? As the official housemaid, I can tell you the less things one has, the better, because when the house burns down, you have less trouble deciding what to take.