A dictionary describes Parvenu as a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French Language; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir (to reach, to arrive, to manage to do something) which for me is a positive one. The French word “arriviste” has a similar meaning and whether one like it or not is synonymous to “Social Climber” which apparently is an insult or negative attitude to many.
Photo via beseeninhollywood.com
When Congressman and Boxing Champion Emmanuelle “Pacman” Pacquiao bought that the estimated 388 Million pesos worth of residential house at the posh Forbes Park in Makati but got declined to join Manila Polo Club allegedly due to his humble beginning. Despite his Billion Peso empire, singing sensation, international superstar and superboy like Manny , does this make him a perfect example of a Parvenu? It is an insult. To think his success came from his own talent and blood without the help of anyone.
But why such an insult for somebody who is successful enough? Why such crab mentality? Henry Sy of SM Shoemart and now a Real estate developer came from humble beginnings. Can we categorize him as a “Social Climber” or Parvenu? Are people only jealous of wealth and thus the insult? From Wikipedia, the word parvenu typically describes a person who recently ascended the social ladder, especially a nouveau riche or “new money” individual.
The famous Molly Brown, who survived the Titanic sinking in 1912, was portrayed as a “new money” individual in “climbing social classes” musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown because of her impoverished Irish immigrant roots and lack of social pedigree.
Such insult is also heard from some gossip magazines such as the status of Gretchen Barretto right now or Ruffa Gutierrez? Thus the words “Rags to Riches’ a negative one now which from my own definition is a person or status that because of ability, knowledge, talent or luck, one from his humble beginnings became rich because of his overwhelming and exceptional effort. If based from The Oxford English Dictionary , a parvenu is “A person from a humble background who has rapidly gained wealth or an influential social position; a nouveau riche; an upstart, a social climber. Also in extended use. Generally used with the implication that the person concerned is unsuited to the new social position, especially through lacking the necessary manners or accomplishments.”
The term is an insult so why use it? Are we not the civilized enough to accept the success of others? Only few individuals or families came from landed wealth. Based on history, everyone came from nothing but because of determination and will to succeed, they became successful and that is not an easy way to go up. Would it be hard for a lot of us to accept those people from humble beginnings and just make way for them to fit in the society? Why such insult again? Why such mean words? Is it because of the culture or just a norm because of the term survival of the fittest. So if that will be the situation, Aple-de-Ap, Cinderella and Alladin are both Parvenu or may I include also Mulan?.
From wiki, The term designates individuals not socially accepted by individuals already established in their new class. It expresses a form of classism or may I say Elitism or discrimination? Several examples might include athletic and entertainment professionals born and raised in poverty . Of course, a perfect example is Manny Pacqiuao with significantly higher sources of income. The established old money factions of society often choose to exclude these individuals from their ranks, with the argument that such people are tasteless in their spending and use their wealth to flaunt their economic standing rather than practice philanthropy, maintain discretion, and otherwise acquiesce to the accepted behavior of the social class.
And because google and wiki are my bestfriends that are always helping me in terms of definition and to get examples, most but not all gave me an idea about this negative term “Parvenu.” But my friend and assistant Robi told me that it is free to dream, so dream high and for me there’s nothing wrong with it. I think we need to be happy for that person, get inspiration of getting out from misery to success. People always like to climb a ladder to check what’s on the other side of the fence and yes usually but not always a much greener pasture. Is there anything wrong with that? As long as honesty, integrity and principles are still intact, I think going up to that ladder could help us also to succeed, remove that crab mentality and embrace acceptance.