I think we’re going to see a lot more advertising like this trailer for House of Lies, which describes a management consulting firm run by Don Cheadle, Veronica Mars, and Jean-Ralphio by telling us that “They’re the one percent, sticking it to the one percent”:
The 99 percent/1 percent dichotomy is valuable, in art as in politics, because it’s clarifying. Labeling someone a member of the 1 percent is suddenly an easy way to tag them as a villain. The term doesn’t just imply wealth—after all, we have a lot of culture that suggests the benevolence of wealth, the rich are using their money to stock Batman’s arsenal or having revelations and giving it away—it implies a kind of inherent callousness. The messaging of the political movement suggests that the 1 percent will run roughshod over the rest of America, so it’s not that much of a leap to believe they’d turn on each other. It’s that assumption—without the labeling—that’s at the core of Revenge, in which only immense wealth lets Amanda take revenge on all of the classes of society, from investors, to social climbers, to politicians, who framed her father—and did wrong by the rest of us. And it’s interesting to see the circle of 1 Percent villains widen out in House of Lies from the investment bankers of Margin Call and the wealth of Tower Heist to management consultants, a profession that’s quite efficiently captured a large chunk of elite college graduates, in part by selling the idea that you can become a member of the 1 percent by gaining skills you’ll later use to do good for the 99 percent.
Asserting that you’re a member of the 99 percent is less obviously indicative—there is a lot of difference between being in the bottom 1 percent and being just below that 1 percent—but asserting membership in the 99 percent is shorthand way of asserting a worldview and a set of priorities. That kind of affinity is powerful, so it’s not remotely surprising to see folks like Jay-Z try to bandwagon it, with Rocawear’s quickly-pulled Occupy Wall Street t-shirts, which the mogul planned to use to capitalize on a trend without, of course, contributing anything to it.