Do you remember that bit during the last presidential election where Mitt Romney was covertly recorded telling an audience of millionaires that he wasn’t going to work for the poorest 47 percent of Americans? Those who, he complained, “are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them”?
It felt like a big gotcha moment, because after months of meaningless, media-trained soundbites and talking his way out of an opinion, slick Mitt was revealed as the dressage-horse-owning Dickensian capitalist we all knew him to be. This was the true Romney, a man who couldn’t even be bothered to fool those irksome povvos into voting for him. For one brief moment, America saw Romney how he liked to be seen among his fellow lizard people.
But, in the UK, they don’t need spy mics to discover what the upper class think: They just read Tatler, a brazen document of Britain’s true class system. It's a lifestyle magazine for people who know what "truffle consomme" is and what you're supposed to do with it.
These, for example, are all genuine Tatler cover lines from the past few years: “Britain’s Prettiest Schoolgirls,” “The New Faux Poor: The Rich Pretending to Be Broke,” “Jaunty Hats Make Everything Better,” “Oh Hell! It’s Ski Season… Again!” “How to Get Your Son into Eton,” “How to Date a Lord,” “The Most Highly Prized Prostitutes in the World,” “Eton vs Harrow, Who Wins?” and my personal favorite: “How Many People Should You Know?”
This is a magazine written for a tiny elite of old money aristocracy and the shamefully wealthy. A spread on watches in this month's issue began at $75,000 and worked upwards from there. This is the magazine that publishes an annual list of people who “matter.” They don’t even pretend to cloak it in more observable metrics of wealth or power, just ranking humans on their intrinsic genetic worth (the top three are baby Prince George and his parents, naturally). The mag’s cover star is almost always an entirely unfamous child of a once-famous person, because all that matters in Tatler land is wealth, youth, and good stock.
And up till now, that's been more or less fine. Everyone knows Tatler's only read by rich wives in the waiting rooms of plastic surgery clinics or people who are actively looking to take the piss out of it. It hasn’t set out to corrupt new generations, just to entertain the already abominable.
But, a few months ago, Tatler launched Teen Tatler, a blog that even Gossip Girl would find annoyingly high society. Like adult Tatler, it’s written in an impenetrable language of double-barreled surnames and weird posh people in-jokes that you could only understand if you were born with a silver spoon both in your mouth and on your charm bracelet.
Let’s take a look at the guidance Teen Tatler gives to the young women of tomorrow.
WHERE TO SUMMER
Much of Teen Tatler is preoccupied with deciding where to vacay; for example, Aspen (“better service, better bragging rights”) or Verbier (“slick chalets, sick après”). This week, it's a toss up between Corfu or yachting in Croatia (including crucial factors to keep in mind, such as, “You're not old enough for Yacht Week yet, so persuade your parents to take you on a charter”).
The travel advice seems to center around which well-to-do and presumably inbred families will be where. This season is apparently all about Croatia because “Mummy's invited the Carrs and the Hilton Joneses,” whereas, in Corfu, you’re going to find “the A-level boarding-school crew and their siblings. Especially Radleians. The Rothschilds have been here forever.”
Who are these people? Are they actual families? If so, how can this information be meant for mass publication? Isn’t that like me writing an article for VICE called: “WHY YOU SHOULD INVITE MY MATE COLIN TO THE PUB TONIGHT”?
I’d imagine an Earl with his own personal table at Embargo could maybe answer these questions for me, but it's weird that Teen Tatler expects you to know where the heir of the Itsu fortune is summering before you've even bought your first push-up bra.
Almost no one featured in Teen Tatler is famous in the traditional sense. They are nearly all the children of vaguely high-society people. In Teen Tatler’s print supplement there are interviews with Tigerlily Taylor—“her father is in Queen and her mother had a very intense moment with a Cadbury’s flake”—and Raf Law, who (and this is a direct quote), “comes from the best gene pool EVER!”
But don't worry if your parents aren't famous, just merely very, very rich—Teen Tatler also gives you plebs an opportunity to impart information that has no relevance to anyone whatsoever. In one issue, for instance, there’s a full-page interview with someone from City of London School for Girls who happens to play for the school netball team. Not in the Olympics, not in a national competition, just for her school. It’s still hard work, though, which is why “to recuperate, she keeps weekends quiet, escaping to her family’s bolthole in the Cotswolds with a few girlfriends”.
Well, I say fashion. Their street style (shot by Phoebe from Made In Chelsea, naturally) includes posts like the above.
Ignoring the bizarre subtitle about how the girl won't shop at New Look for a minute, this is basically posh-girl uniform: creepers, bad posture, something vaguely quilted (just in case you're called out on a hunt at short notice), sunglasses whatever the weather, and shit tons of hair. Of course, Miss Blurry Face won’t shop at New Look, but she’s happy to spend a few grand looking as though she did.
The unnerving thing is that this blog is aimed at a similar market to those lurid magazines you see in grocery stores with One Direction and lots of Clip Art hearts on the cover. The ones that come with a free notebook and tips on what to do when your best friend kisses your crush. Magazines that are easy to poke fun at but do a decent job of gently gearing you up for relationships and pop culture and social dilemmas.
Teen Tatler knows what its readers are destined for: a cokey phase where they fuck a member of a dynasty pop-rock band, before a lifetime of medicated bliss on the arm of some kind of viscount. They’re preparing them with tidbits like “simply pulling a Chanel lipstick out of your bag will transform you into Grace Kelly” because in 2014, surely every tween dreams of emulating Grace Kelly.
It goes without saying that teenage posh girls smoke and drink more than 48-year-old street alcoholics. Teen Tatler are fairly brazen with this knowledge. Their holiday advice includes: “buy your fags in advance—there won't be a shop for miles,” and their history of the King's Road has a detailed list of which pubs served underage schoolgirls over the years. There’s a pretty laissez-faire attitude to shagging adults, too, with advice for a trip to Oman including “don’t get with the diving instructor on the first night.”
They also have those fun “What kind of girl are you?” quizzes, but their questions are a little tougher to answer:
Hope I nailed it!
THE TEEN TATLER BYSTANDER BALL
The pinnacle of the whole affair appears to be the Teen Tatler Bystander Ball. In the video of the event, you see the truth: Teen Tatler trying to force celebrity adulthood on a bunch of posh kids who just want to drink Schnapps and wear face paint. Teen Tatler isn’t a magazine for rich teens at all, it's a tool for their parents to start socializing them into the dreadful people they will one day have to become. The publishing equivalent of leaving diet pills and a dress two sizes too small at the end of your kid’s bed.
It's almost enough to make you feel kinda sorry for them. Honestly, someone should intervene and save these children from the generation of wealthy madmen currently giving them life advice.
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