“They had tumbleweed hanging from the ceiling. No one had tumbleweed in their houses. Now, you see a lot of tumbleweed in people’s houses.”
We sat down and watched a documentary called "Eames: The Architect and the Painter". To cut a long story short, the whole thing was just a bit weird. I'm not really sure what they were aiming for here... Were they trying to make us dislike Charles? Were they trying to make us love Charles? Were they paying homage to Charles? Did they consciously forget that the documentary was meant to be about Ray, too?
I mean... do a lot of people really have tumbleweed hanging in their house? Are Charles and Ray Eames really as influential as they're made out? I don't know. I can't really make that judgement. Just because I'm not hugely impressed by their work, that doesn't mean other people aren't. In fact, I would assume I'm in a huge minority with that opinion, considering how well known they are and how renowned they seem to be by historians and designers.
All that the documentary really told me was that Charles Eames was a self-centred, narcissistic adulterer who had a complete lack of appreciation for his wife and employees. Throughout the documentary, I noted down some of the comments made by his past employees:
"Ray felt deeply hurt because it was made out that all of the work was Charles’, and he didn’t do anything to correct that."
"[The staff] only had one obligation, and that was to satisfy Charles."
“Their marriage was a mystery to everyone. He found excitement and thrills outside of Ray, which was extremely crushing to her.”
Charles was interested in another woman [whilst married to Ray], and told her he wanted to marry her and have a child, and open a design office together. The other woman said no. Ray found out and dealt with it personally."
"[Charles] was particularly charismatic to women."
"Ray was always stood behind [Charles] on TV"
"Charles didn't give his team credit. The designs were a collaborative effort but Charles was getting all the credit as a single name. The other designers were made to feel that they couldn’t say anything to him about it. He may have been exploiting us.”
Like I say, although Charles may have been self-centred and narcissistic, he was clearly very successful. This made me wonder; is there a link between narcissism and success? Are self-centred people more likely to be 'successful'?
I decided to look into some other particularly famous and 'successful' individuals who are widely regarded as being 'self-centred' and / or 'narcissistic'. I'm not here to give my opinion on them, but more to look into how they're generally, publicly regarded.
I suppose one of the most obvious places to start is with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is consistently regarded as self-centred and narcissistic, especially by the press. He has been known to boast, particularly, about his wealth and business empire. However, there is no denying that Donald Trump has had an extremely successful career as a businessman, author, TV personality and eventually within politics. He successfully became the 45th President of the United States in 2017, before he was succeeded by Joe Biden in 2021.
Another person regarded as narcissistic is Kanye West. The rapper and fashion designer has been criticised for his egotistical behavior, including interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Awards. He also referred to himself as God in 2013. More recently, he was heavily criticised, and rightly so, for multiple anti-Semitic comments and tweets. Despite this, he has won numerous awards and has been praised for his contributions to the music industry.
Golfer, Tiger Woods, has been accused of being arrogant and selfish on and off the golf course. In 2009, it also came to light that he'd cheated on his wife with dozens of different women. However, he has also achieved achieved a huge amount success in golf; winning a large number of major championships and becoming one of the wealthiest athletes in the world, with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were regarded as being arrogant, dismissive and demanding. However, both of them managed to create, arguably, the two most successful technology companies in the world, and two of the most successful companies in general.
In another field, Mariah Carey has been, regularly, referred to as a "pop diva" and criticised for her behaviour. She is known to have ridiculously demanding backstage requests and regularly falls out with other celebrities. However, she has sold millions of records and has been praised for her vocal range and songwriting.
Jeremy Clarkson has been accused of being "self-centred", "arrogant", and "opinionated"; often making controversial comments. He was also 'fired' by the BBC for a physical altercation, and nearly lost his contact with Amazon over comments he made about Meghan Markle. Despite this, he has a huge fanbase and has had huge success from Top Gear, The Grand Tour and Clarkson's Farm. He has also written several best-selling books and has won numerous awards for his work in media.
Like I say, I'm not here to give my opinions on these people. Some of the opinions above I agree with - some I don't. But, the over-arching topic was "Are people who are considered to be self-centred and narcissistic more likely to be successful?". I think the answer to that is - probably.
Maybe it takes a certain amount of self-empowerment in order to believe in your ability to be successful. A strong sense of self-confidence can, undoubtably, make you feel more comfortable taking risks and pursuing seemingly hard-to-reach goals. These people may also be more willing to put themselves forward and promote their own accomplishments and abilities, which can help them stand out.
At the end of the day, I guess it really depends on what you class as "success"...