All this time, an unsuspecting public has thought accountants to be frumpy, fastidious paper-pushers ever-willing to split the check down to the penny for their foolhardy friends.
But thanks to that accountant-slaying siren Rihanna, says Financial Times pop critic Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, the secret licentious lives of accountants have been exposed:
Is the video feminist or misogynist? Racist or empowering? I watched expecting to ponder these mighty matters. But during scenes of drug-taking, nudity and disembowelment I found myself troubled by another question. Do accountants really live like that?
The gruesome fictional events are said to be linked to Rihanna’s real-life fury at a former accountant, whom she took to court alleging gross financial mismanagement; the case was settled out of court. But I am more intrigued by the lifestyle of The Accountant, who lives with his trophy wife in a modernist mansion with a pool and Californian hilltop views. Not only does he have the house of a rock star, he parties like one. We see him enjoying the company of two young women: they are not discussing Internal Revenue Service tax codes.
Yes, as all accountants know, when the trophy wives are out and about, the threesomes will commence!
But if we can put orgies aside, there are more serious matters in the hands of accountants that need to be considered:
Their role grows more vital as money penetrates our lives ever more deeply. A 2014 report estimated that more than half the jobs growth in the City of London in the next decade would come from accountancy and law. Meanwhile the big four firms of PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY are busy expanding from auditing into consultancy, with revenues from the latter increasing by almost 9 per cent last year. There is obvious scope for conflicts of interest.
Yeah, we've heard. But forget about the spirit of integrity, Armageddon awaits (or something):
Who audits the auditors? In the film, Ghostbusters, a nerdish accountant is possessed by a demon who is the servant of an angry Sumerian god intent on destroying the world. The ancient civilisation where the bean-counter was born is also the harbinger of apocalypse. Seen in that light, the rogue number-cruncher slaughtered in Rihanna’s video is a blood sacrifice, killed to propitiate the terrible power that lurks at the heart of accountancy.
And here we were just chalking this up to a garden variety celebrity-accountant beef. Thanks for opening our eyes, FT pop critic guy.