Enough money to do something

There's a nice line in the recent George Clooney film The Descendants, in which his character Matt King says in voice-over: "I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father - you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing."

I've been thinking about that concept quite a bit in the past few weeks, having run into a glut of rich kids in their late 20s and mid-30s who've articulated a desire to do "more" with their lives but are probably just a little too cashed up to actually put the rubber to the road and get shit done.

Having grown up in a solidly middle-class family, I don't mind admitting I've always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about rich kids and the benefits that can accrue from not having to pay rent while you chase your "dream".

As I've written previously on this blog, I call this the "Spike Jonze corollary"; Jonze being the Academy Award-nominated director of the feature films Where the Wild Things Are and Being John Malkovich as well as the executive producer of the MTV series, Jackass.

Jonze comes from money - a lot of it - so, while he's created a formidable body of creative work, it's not like he's had to wait on tables while writing music-video treatments at night.

I dunno what sort of dough Jonze's parents threw at him while he got his career off the ground in his teens and 20s, but I'd hazard a guess it was "not enough to do nothing".

And good luck to him.

If you bust into the cubicles of any nightclub in Australia, you'll find the children of wealthy parents who've got that balance wrong. Mum and dad have styled their kids out to such an extent that their little ones have blown their 20s and any sense of a work ethic up their noses and out their arses during constant, coked-up 4am monologues about "doing something more".

Most likely they've got their own fashion label, which is stocked in one family friend's boutique, or a "creative agency" that's only creation is really cool business cards.

These types are "out there" in their industries but they're never gonna "get there" because 4am is when success stories wake up for brekkie, not bow once more to the white devil on the coffee table. 

So ... what exactly constitutes "not enough to do nothing"?

I'm not really sure but I can't help coming back to that dirty, disgusting word you discover when you move out of home for the first time: rent.

I know a couple of very successful rich kids, blokes who've achieved highly impressive feats in various creative industries, and one of the things they had in common was a place of their own ... paid in full.

Nothing fancy, just a one- or two-bedroom apartment they knew would always be there while they did the time-consuming, mostly free stuff you have to do to get a creative career or small business off the ground.

So that's kind of what I'm working towards for my daughter - a nice apartment, somewhere central - and hopefully she's grateful enough to use it for activities other than partying.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.