Is Cate Blanchett Really Middle Class?

The actress has been criticised for describing herself as 'middle class.'
Cate Blanchett.Getty

Cate Blanchett is being criticised online for referring to herself as ‘middle class’

The Australian actress was speaking about her refugee advocacy work at a Cannes Film Festival press conference when she reflected on her position by stating, “I’m white, I’m privileged, I’m middle class, and I think, you know, one can be accused of having a bit of a white saviour complex.”

“But to be perfectly honest, my interaction with the refugees in the field and also in resettled environments has totally changed my perspective on the world.”


From @AP Entertainment: In Cannes, Cate Blanchett reflects on her experience as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, and the importance of giving filmmakers who are refugees a platform to tell their stories.

♬ original sound – The Associated Press

With a net worth of around $95 million, the extremely successful Hollywood actress surprised many people with her claim.

On TikTok, one user asked, “If cate Blanchett thinks she’s middle class, how rich is the upper class?”

Another wrote, “I love Cate Blanchett, but in what world is she “middle class” she’s been in two major franchises and is worth an estimated 90 million,” while many any other users expressed similar sentiments.

However, not everyone disagreed with Blanchett’s remarks, with the The Guardian publishing an opinion piece stating that Blanchett wasn’t wrong about her class status, arguing that Australia’s perspective of someone’s social class, which is about social and cultural capital, is different to the American perspective, which is more about wealth.

But if Cate Blanchett is middle class then what are the rest of us?

What Is Middle Class?

The definition of ‘middle class’ varies between countries and cultures.

As The Guardian points out, America leans towards a more economic perception of class status, while Australia is more like Britain, placing equal value on the area you grew up, education levels, family occupations and even cultural interests.

In this understanding, someone who grew up in a prestigious suburb and attended private school may be considered to belong to a higher class than someone who works a blue collar job and grew up in a less wealthy area—regardless of whether the blue collar worker earns more than the former does.

However, if we were to only look at income, the Australian Institute explains that the median Australian income is $67,000.

While Blanchett is obviously a long way from the ‘middle’ Australian income, she wouldn’t be the only one to perceive herself as ‘middle class.’

In fact, studies show that Australians as a whole overly perceive themselves to be middle class—regardless of whether their income is higher or lower than the actual middle.

This is evident in the ‘POV Middle Class In Australia’ TikTok trend, which videos will always have commenters arguing that the lifestyle shown in the videos is either too privileged or not privileged enough to be representative of what they perceive to be their own version of ‘middle class.’

Perhaps this is because its hard to see ourselves anywhere other than the middle—there’s always going to be someone more privileged than us, and there’s always going to be someone who is less. Naturally, you end up feeling like you’re smack-bang in the middle—even if you’re not.

In Blanchett’s case, while most people don’t have anywhere as much money as her, in her circles, there’s guaranteed to be plenty who have more.

So, Is Cate Blanchett Really Middle Class?

Of course, we don’t know exactly what Blanchett meant when she said ‘middle class’.

Many people believe the actress was referring to her upbringing in suburban Melbourne, with one user explaining “I think she means that she is culturally middle class. Obviously she has made millions as an adult; but you don’t forget where you came from,” while another explained, “middle class has a different meaning in the UK/Australia. Means wealthy but not royalty or nobility”.

However, it may have also been a simple slip of the tongue.

Either way, most people would agree that even if Blanchett did grow up ‘middle class’, she’s certainly surpassed that bracket.

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