Sunday, October 26, 2008


Metropolitan was a film released in the early 90's and directed by Whit Stillman. It showed a self-professed proleterian making his way into the social sphere of a group of well-off young New-Yorkers. At the beginning of the film, he hires a dinner jacket for his first evening out. That's all that is asked from him to get an entrance ticket: to wear a tuxedo and to know the basic rules of urban civility. Nobody cares if he lives with his mother and grandmother in a dump of Brooklyn opposite the railroad. And then he bangs the girls, and then he goes to the concerts...

So what's my point? Well here it is: to be successful in our society, you have to reflect an image of success. Familiar with this line? Of course you are. But I let you find out where the hell you heard it. To make it short, you don't get a membership by begging for one and you don't wait to get the job to wear the uniform. Move yourself in unnoticed, dance a few steps with the mistress of the house and get the stamp you need once everybody thinks it's totally useless.

On a practical field, what does it mean? Well, try to go and see your banker dressing like Vladimir in Waiting for Godot and you'll see what it means. He won't even let you sit on the customer's chair, let alone lend you money.
Try to seduce a girl by highlighting what a tender virgin you are, how much inexperience you have. She'll sure give you her parrot's phone number.
Go for business partners assuring them that you will soon find new clients. Wrong, my lad, you already have them and all you really ask for is time to make them real.

People are not that unfriendly, people are not that reluctant to welcome new faces. People need people. People with old skin for the new ceremony.

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1 comment:

seb said...

pierre bourdieu called it "Prätention". Wellt, his translator did. He probably wrote 'prétention'. People willing to climb up the social ladder aquire behavioural codes of the class above, especially dress codes. Nice example are law students. I wonder, if this is the case in other countries as well, but in germaany it's a comon clichee that all law students start to dress like lawyers from there first year on.