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Want To Feel Good About Your Life? November 21, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, People, Sustainable Living.
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Want to feel good about your life? 

Watch The Queen of Versailles and you’ll feel like YOUR life is GOLDEN.

This documentary is an eye-popping look at narcissistic consumerism gone wrong. 

The couple, David Siegel, a 74-year-old business mogul who sits at the helm of Westgate Resorts (timeshares), and Jackie Siegel,  his 44-year-old trophy wife, a former Miss Florida, share a home in Orlando Florida with eight spoiled pampered  kids and a number of neglected animals ~ two of which are now stuffed and on display.

The couple, rich beyond their wildest dreams, have all the trappings of wealth ~ a private jet, chauffeured limousine, 19 house servants, several nannies, a cook, etc.
 
They live in a 27,000 sq. ft. house.   But that’s not nearly B~I~G enough for this couple addicted to conspicuous consumption.

As the tale unfolds, they share their plans for a new 90,000 sq. ft. home with an obscene number of rooms . . . including an ice skating rink, a bowling alley, an orchestra pit, 17 bathrooms, and 10 kitchens.

It is to be the largest private residence in the United States . . . a modern day palace to rival Versailles.

At a cost of . . . $100,000,000.

The filmmaker asks a good question, “Why build a house so big?”  Siegel replies, “Because I can.”

Everything is golden until, halfway through the project, the stock market collapses and the real estate bubble bursts.  Their goose stops laying golden eggs and implodes.  Money dries up.  Life as they know it is over. 

But the cameras keep rolling.

Ensuing scenes reveal how dysfunctional this narcissistic ego-driven shallow family has become while milking their cash cow:

* Dogs wander the house, pooping as they please.  No one cleans up the pet mess because . . . that’s not their job.  They are not “pooper-scoopers.”

* The oldest “child” (age 18)  fails to give her pet lizard food or water.  It dies  alone in a barren tank.  In a bizarre attempt to deflect criticism for her ostensible neglect, the spoiled brat flounces from the room, “I’m sorry I’m such a horrible person.”  

She says it twice.  

She didn’t even need to say it once for most viewers to recognize that she is both a sorry excuse for a human being AND a horrible person.

* To save money, Jackie shops for Christmas at Wal-Mart.  She exits the store with five shopping carts overflowing with all manner of unnecessary items.  Not one of this and two of that.  No.  Despite the perilous financial precipice she’s perched upon, she buys six of this game, seven of that game, eight new bikes (to join 23 bikes already languishing in the couple’s  oversized overstuffed  garage), and who knows what else.  

I watched in horrified fascination to the bitter end. 
It made me glad to be ME.

May it do the same for you.

Aah . . . that’s better!

For more:  The Queen of Versailles ~ The Best Film on the Great Recession (The Washington Post) * Last Words (The Daily Prompt) * Buy Less. Do More

Comments»

1. Tori Nelson - November 21, 2012

Wow. In the saddest possible way, wow. I was just talking to the husband last night about how thankful I am to be content. I’ve never been one to want bigger or better, more and more of anything. It’s shocking and sad to see the opposite here.

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Exactly! This seemed a good post for the days leading up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday (which seems blacker and more depressing with each passing year).

Happiness is NOT having all you want . . . it’s wanting what you have. Less is more.

2. kateshrewsday - November 21, 2012

Things don’t make us happy, do they, Nancy?

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Temporarily, maybe . . . but not when you factor in all that you give up to house and care for and maintain possessions that you didn’t really need in the first place.

This movie is a fantastic look at how rampant materialism erodes the soul.

3. jannatwrites - November 21, 2012

The ridiculous house and consumerism makes me sad. The cruelty to animals makes me sick. As an owner of 3 cats and 3 dogs, yes, I am a pooper-scooper, hairball-cleaner at times. Would I prefer they not make messes? Absolutely, but they are living creatures and they deserve to have a clean place to live and food to eat. (Hey, the kids make messes too – I signed up for making sure they have proper living conditions as well.)

Sorry about the rant. I’m just really irritated by this!

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

It is SAD. The family is a disgusting example of narcissistic consumerism. And the reason they had dog shit all over the house (that they stepped in, on film) is because they didn’t take the time to let the dogs outside to relieve themselves.

They are self-absorbed twits. But I enjoyed watching the film, because they made me so happy to be me.

4. 2e0mca - November 21, 2012

I think I’ll shop wisely and not buy that video… I’m not into horror 😦

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

I would NEVER buy a movie like this . . . we rented it from Netflix for $1. Well worth the price of admission. 😉

5. Barbara Backer-Gray - November 21, 2012

I’m waiting to see it on Movies on Demand–it’s cheaper that way 😉

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Good thought, Barbara. We rarely go to the movies to see films when first released. I’d much rather watch it at home where I can press Pause (to get snacks) or Rewind (to re-watch something that is intriguing).

We get about 2 movies a week from Netflix for $8 a month. Just the right price for us.

Barbara Backer-Gray - November 22, 2012

We had Netflix, but it was like watching a movie through a fly screen. And if I like a movie, I like to have it, like books. So I get most of my movies and television series at the Half Price Book Store. Some movies are $1.

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

We rarely have a problem with DVD’s we receive from Netflix. I prefer to watch them once and mail them back, instead of finding a home for them. 😉

6. sufilight - November 21, 2012

Wow, gave me goosebumps. I like my simple life. I am rich in love and don’t lack anything as I don’t want more and more…

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Same here, Marie. I’m so glad that I took a good hard look at how we are manipulated as consumers. Once I opened my eyes, I turned my back on that way of life.

“Simplify Your Life” by Elaine St. James really taught me to focus on MY priorities rather than playing follow the leader.

7. ryoko861 - November 21, 2012

What a hollow existence. I wouldn’t mind the money though!

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Not me. If you can afford anything, nothing has real value ~ hence the empty hollow existence exhibited by these narcissistic nimrods and dimwits.

ryoko861 - November 21, 2012

But I really want a Mercedes Benz!

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

8. seeker57 - November 21, 2012

They can have glory. Even if you pay me to be part of the “fam” thanks but no thanks. I am blissfully content with simplicity, two cats, and borrow the DVD from the library. Not giving them the royalty. That money should have gone to feed the hungry in Africa. Actually, they are a sorry sight. Thanks for the trailer.

nrhatch - November 21, 2012

Same here, Seeker. You couldn’t pay me enough to live under the same roof with them . . . I’d be afraid of stepping in doggie poo on the way to the loo. 😉

9. Three Well Beings - November 22, 2012

I have mixed feelings about this DVD, Nancy! Part of me really wants to see it, and the other part wonders if it will drive me crazy! Consumerism on steroids, or what? I think you pegged it with narcissism. Thanks for the review. I haven’t heard of it before!

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

BFF could NOT watch it. I watched in horrified fascination at their narcissism gone W~I~L~D! Everywhere you looked, there were portraits of them gracing the walls. No portraits? No problem . . . hang a photograph instead. Throughout the movie, photos of David, photos of Jackie, photos of David and Jackie, photos of David and Jackie with celebs or politicians or other hob-nobbers.

There was a WHOLE WALL of photos of David rubbing elbows with “his friends” on display in the sales room at Westgate ~ “Yeah, I’m gonna buy a timeshare here because you once had your photo snapped with Oprah Winfrey.”

Say CHEESEY! :mrgreen:

Three Well Beings - November 23, 2012

If I can find the DVD I’ll watch it…and let you know! I’m glad you mentioned it. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded that this kind of thinking is out there. I wonder, though, were they aware that the documentary was giving an impression of the ugliness of their excesses? Or were they so lost in themselves that they just enjoyed the attention? There’s a whole world of people out there who are like this, I suppose, but I tend to forget that!

nrhatch - November 23, 2012

They seemed oblivious of the impression their lifestyle might have on viewers. Perhaps they are so used to being venerated for their wealth that it never occurred to them that we might be horrified by the ugliness of their existence?

10. barb19 - November 22, 2012

Money isn’t the answer to happiness, we all know that, and it doesn’t make you a better person either, as this film shows. I don’t think I could bear to watch it Nancy.

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

I understand. BFF couldn’t watch for more than a few minutes. Seeing the contrast between their lifestyle and ours made me feel that I must be doing somethings right.

Watching them was like watching creepy-crawlies . . . how does one become so utterly self-absorbed with making an impression on others to feed the insatiable ego while remaining clueless about the impression you’re making?

11. sweetdaysundertheoaks - November 22, 2012

I will have to watch it. I am sure it will make me happy to be me too!

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

I thought watching it might give me heartburn or indigestion. It didn’t. As I watched, calm contentment with my life grew.

Aah . . . that’s better!

12. Andra Watkins - November 22, 2012

So sad.

I hope you’re having a Happy Thanksgiving, Nancy.

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

So far, so good. Hope you remembered to bring your woolies to Helsinki! 😀

13. Tammy - November 22, 2012

Wow.

nrhatch - November 22, 2012

Exactly. Wow. 🙄

14. kismitoffeebar - November 23, 2012

Woah! I’d go crazy in such a big house. sadly, it would never become a home 😦

nrhatch - November 23, 2012

I agree.

Of course, if we lived with the Siegels . . . 90,000 sq. ft. might not be big enough. They might still be too close for comfort. 😉

15. Booksphotographsandartwork - November 24, 2012

I’ve seen that advertised. So glad you wrote this about it, I would never want to see something so disgusting. Someone should rescue those animals.

nrhatch - November 24, 2012

Someone should rescue the children.

16. William D'Andrea - November 24, 2012

What I find most annoying is when fantastically wealthy Movie and TV Stars and others in the entertainment industry, denounce the “Rich”, and say that they favor the “re-distribution of wealth”. Don’t they realize that their own Mansions, limousines, yachts etc, will be among the redistributed items? I wonder what Oprah would say, if she finds herself forced to live in a three room, rent controlled apartment; with strict limits on the amount of food, clothing and other necessities?

nrhatch - November 24, 2012

I expect Oprah would view down-sizing as a step in the wrong direction.

17. Daily Prompt: Success! (Man is His Own Enemy) « - November 25, 2012

[…] the right words to write. Fortunately for us both, recalling that event and stumbling upon this post has helped me remember a quote that never fails to strike a chord in […]

18. Perfecting Motherhood - November 28, 2012

Wow. I mean, WOW. I’m not sure I could watch this without my eyeballs popping out. Is there a happy ending (except for the lizard, of course)?

nrhatch - November 28, 2012

Nope. The documentary ends with them in denial about their empty existence. I’ve since heard that business has picked up, and they are continuing with plans to build Versailled.

In short, I don’t believe they learned a thing.

Perfecting Motherhood - November 28, 2012

I’m not so surprised, but it’s disappointing to hear. Poor kids.

nrhatch - November 28, 2012

Those kids (and their parents) would be shocked to learn that they are pitied, not envied.


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