Between this IG scammer and her empty mason jars, the Theranos lady with the crispy ends, punchface Fyre douche, and the Russian lady living for free in fancy hotels, my spirit is just completely done with unqualified white people fumbling the bag due to LAZINESS. Any one of them could’ve been sitting on bags of money handed to them by dint of being white and slick-mouthed had they not overshot into mind-boggling greed and followed it up with enraging ineptitude.
If you are a white woman, a journalist, a New Yorker, bored and on the Internet too much, or a combination of the aforementioned, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen the name Caroline Calloway pop up somewhere over the past week.
Something instinctively told me to leave that mess alone because I saw enough warning signs to know that Rich White Girl Goes Through Troubles Of Her Own Making was a ministry I was not prepared to receive. And then last night, I did it. I took a peek into the rabbit hole and went headfirst into the latest edition of Squandering White Privilege.
The long version is best told in these three articles, all of which I read straight through in a row at 2 in the morning while I was stressing out about being unemployed and paying bills. If you have the time and the fortitude, I recommend this order:
First: “The Case of Caroline Calloway and her Creativity Workshop Tour”
Here we see a rich white girl with no qualifications other than a popular Instagram putting together a nationwide tour in less than a month that inevitably falls apart a la Fyre Festival because neither she nor anyone else knows what needs to be done logistically. White girls across the country ponied up $165 each for the privilege of learning how to be yourself from a woman who was faking it. And there was supposed to be salad and orchid crowns.
Second: “The Story of Caroline Calloway and her Ghostwriter Natalie”
The ghostwriter herself wrote it. Caroline’s friend Natalie was so good at writing Caroline’s Instagram captions that she (Caroline, not the friend) landed a 6-figure book deal. In terms of writing, it’s one of my favorite first person narratives of the year. In terms of subject, both of these white girls are maddeningly ridiculous. It’s wild read, from a budding friendship at NYU to multiple near misses with sexual assault wandering around at night in a foreign country.
Third: “Who is Caroline Calloway”
Vox hits the highlights. If you want to know broad strokes and can’t sit through the details, Vox is it.
If you want to know the broadest strokes: Caroline Calloway is a rich white girl. Her dad is a retired lawyer, her mom is a retired data scientist, and her grandparents were real estate tycoons who owned most of Sarasota or something. (x) She took glamorous pictures of her life, her best friend wrote lonnnnng captions, and they became so popular she got a $500,000 book deal to write her memoirs. She couldn’t finish the book, scammed her followers out of $165 a piece to “workshop” with her for four hours, and now certain corners of the internet are obsessed with how a talentless nobody could swan dive into half a million dollars and a massive following.
IT’S BECAUSE SHE’S WHITE AND RICH.
How many times have we seen this? White person from a privileged background tries to leverage that privilege into even more money. They have no skills other than salesmanship, so they sell something that doesn’t exist. When people finally want to receive what they paid for, the emperor is found to be stark naked.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
At this point in my life, I’m almost numb to watching unqualified white people fail upward to ever loftier heights of success and riches. Knowing Caroline Calloway got a book deal for memoirs she wasn’t writing doesn’t even make me blink twice. But y’all. Y’all!! All she had to do was let her friend finish writing the book! Sit still and tell a few stories, either true or fictionalized, let the girl who had been writing your Instagram finish writing the book, and both of y’all collect that bag. She couldn’t even be bothered to do THAT.
If someone was trying to pay me half a million dollars to let someone else write a book about my life, you couldn’t shut me up. What do you need, Sis? You want me to tell you about the bully who called me a faggot in second grade so I ran home to write mean haikus about him in my Trapper Keeper? You wanna know about how two of my friends and I set the carpet on fire in the guidance counselor’s office when we were supposed to be taking the flag down and folding it? Wanna know how I almost got expelled from school senior year because I wrote a blog about how a clarinet player and I drank the alcohol in a host family’s cabinet, replaced it with water, and showed up to rehearsal the next day mad hungover on an orchestra trip? I got stories on stories on stories. How much time you got. How much length we going for.
$500,000?! Couldn’t be bothered. She just let the deadlines pass and then cried about it when the publisher wanted their advance money back.
This country is founded upon an implicit trust in white people, and the economic success of this country in combination with a hypocritically bastardized Christian worldview of prosperity has led to a large proportion of the population that believes wealth is a byproduct of morality. If you’re rich, you deserve it. If you’re poor, you deserve it. We give more worth to the words of rich people because they matter more, and we give more benefit of the doubt to white people because we trust them to pull through and succeed. We are a country that is the perfect breeding ground for Caroline Calloway or Elizabeth Holmes or Anna Delvey or Billy McFarland.
We’re a country that put a businessman with multiple bankruptcies in the White House just because he said he was rich and had the flashy trappings of wealth. As long as there are rich white people, there will be Americans ready to follow in their wake hoping the illusion of prosperity and privilege rubs off on them.