Wednesday, 15 July 2015

namely: plutographic

Not to take any wind out of the sails of our celestial celebrity, via the Oxford English Dictionary’s daily vocabulary teaser comes a little jewel of a word, coined by the writer Tom Wolfe, plutography.

Though we are enduring another Gilded Age of extravagance, conspicuous-consumption and wealth disparity that really revivals the uneven landscape of the 1980s, the term by author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities it seems particularly useful and adept at describing the fascination held for the elites, especially as captured in the tabloid press and the syndicated series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous of that time. Of course, we like to think that we’ve matured beyond such enthralments—but they’re still very much with us and romanced in myriad ways. Contemporary word-smiths would much more readily wield the unbound and blunt morpheme porn (as in poverty-porn for urban blight) to describe something we all recognise as vulgar and provocative in our social betters. Next time I see such an ostentatious display, I’ll call it plutography.