Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't work. Nor does Senator Bernie Sanders. Nor does Lil Wayne... although I do appreciate Lil Wayne's comprehensive plan for universal health care.
Yes, these people do stuff. Trump oversees construction. Sanders votes on bills. Paltrow sells organic socks made from kale. But this isn't work; this isn't a job.
Let's be clear about what constitutes work...
Work means having a boss.
Just because someone signs your paychecks, that doesn't mean you have a boss.
The person you try to avoid all day long? That's a boss. What- you don't have someone like that? Then you don't have a boss. Maybe you have an executive producer. Maybe you have an editor. Maybe you have to answer to "the board." But you don't have a boss.
A politician will say that the American people are his boss. Well, in that sense, politicians do try to avoid their boss all day. But politicians can be quite rude to their constituents. You can't be rude to your boss. The boss controls the conversation. The boss decides when the conversation starts and when it ends. The boss gets to decide when to make a joke and when to be condescending. The boss is like the more attractive person on a blind date.
Work means having a deadline.
If you can be late, then it's not a real job. If you have a deadline, but you don't make your deadline, and you don't get fired... then it's not a real deadline... and it's not real work. Deadlines are not tweets; you can't just delete them once you lose interest. #HostingTheVoiceIsNotActualWork
The concept of time means something different to hard-working Americans than it does to rich and famous people. To regular people, time means when you have to show up to your job, how long you have to stay there, how many minutes you get for lunch, and deadlines. For movie stars and runway models and CEOs, time is more of an existential question to ponder philosophically- like "happiness" or why Kanye cares so much about who wins at awards shows.
Some people work independently: they own restaurants, they run construction companies, etc. Owning a business comes with the most stressful sort of deadlines- financial deadlines. They have to make payroll. They have to pay bills. And they have to do anything they can to stop themselves from leaping off tall buildings when they hear celebrities talk about "the stress" of releasing a new fragrance. Did you know that David Beckham has three different colognes? They smell like me throwing up.
Work means not being able to take that late-afternoon nap.
Human beings get tired around two-thirty in the afternoon. It's coded into our biology, just like how we get hungry or how we always get stuck talking to the weird lady at the party. You know it's real work when you're unable to enjoy that midday snooze.
Progressive pundits speak of economic stratification and income inequality. But nobody is speaking about nap inequality. In a perfect world, everyone would be able to doze off for ten minutes during the day, incorporating the sounds around you into your freaky but oddly comforting dream. Nap dreams are the best.
Work means doing it because you have to. That's why it's called work. Being a professional athlete is not real work. Professional football players play football. They don't work football. Hollywood stars play a role. They don't work a role... unless it's Will Smith's kid; his acting feels like a struggle.
Celebrities complain about having to do talk shows to promote their films. Teachers complain about a lack of funding for classroom supplies. Wealthy basketball coaches complain about having to do post-game interviews. Janitors complain about cleaning shit off the toilet seat. Do you see a difference?
The great Studs Terkel wrote a famous book in 1974 called Working, in which regular people in the labor force describe what they do all day and how they feel about doing it. I wonder how Terkel would feel about jerks who make a living posting YouTube videos?
Politicians warn about the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class. But there's also a growing gap between real work and the socially unproductive, obscenely-paid nonsense that occupies the typical day of those who just happen to be fortunate enough to have a lot of Twitter followers.
On Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Scott Disick earns thousands of dollars by making "appearances" at Las Vegas nightclub parties. In Stud Terkel's book, it's Chapter What the F**k!?!
And that's fine, I guess.
People shouldn't be condemned for being beautiful or having great connections or for just being lucky- in other words, the Academy Award voting guidelines. Heck, I find the Kardashians show very entertaining. Although I'd really like to see a reality show about how the Kardashians act when the cameras are off. (You might need to think about that one for a minute.) But... perspective.
Put perspective on your good fortune, as it compares to the millions of Americans who still work... I mean, really work. Be considerate. America needs firemen and teachers and airline attendants and house painters. But America will survive if your new CD doesn't drop. And when the regular, jealous, ugly, angry nobodies say you don't have a real job, don't get so defensive. Just politely respond by saying, "Yes, I'm very fortunate." Is that so hard? Or, better yet, don't respond at all.
The concept of work is not to be taken lightly. Let's not throw around the W-word so loosely that it literally loses its meaning. It's bad enough that we did that with "literally."