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Economy / FinancePolitics / Int'l RelationsPhilosophy  │  Qualitätskontrolle  │ Blog                Blog
Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine or Barbaric Expectations
Dialogue with the Alter Ego on Downward Mobility, first drafted on Dec. 26, published on Dec. 28, 2013

    "En quoi Michel peut-il servir l’État? J’avoue que je l’ignore… Il lui faut une occupation. La haute position
    que t’ont value tes grands mérites, le pouvoir que tu tiens, permettront-ils de la trouver? – Hâte-toi. Michel
    est dévoué: il l’est encore: il ne le sera bientôt plus qu’à lui-meme."
    André Gide, L’Immoraliste, Mercure de France (1902), p. 12

Question by Noah denkt™ (Nd): In his latest movie, Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen tells a story of dramatic
downward mobility that spans from the top notches of New York’s Park Avenue society to the doldrums of a
blue-collar San Francisco neighborhood. As the incredulous victim of a financial scandal involving her reckless
husband, Mr. Allen’s main character, Jasmine Francis is forced to give her up her luxurious upper-class lifestyle
and move in with her adopted sister who supports herself working in a close-by supermarket. While still clinging
on to the pretension of an
haute-volée existence, Jasmine is now faced with the humbling reality of a merciless
labor market on one side and the absolute lack of cultured interests among her new acquaintances on the
other. In a way, Blue Jasmine reminds us of a scene in Bertolucci’s 1987 movie “The Last Emperor”, where the
newly established Communist Regime forces the toppled Emperor of China, Pu Yi, to give up his lofty lifestyle
and work as a peasant instead. What does our Alter Ego make of the expectation that is imminent in free
market philosophy according to which you should be able to reinvent yourself,
if necessary as a supermarket
cashier, if your former existence as state of the art socialite has become untenable?

Answer by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE):  Well, perhaps, we need to answer your question with one of our
own: What is wrong with arguing that anyone should be able to work their way up the social ladder even if some
of us may have previously fallen down that subject ladder?

Nd: The difference is that those who never experienced what life is like at the top of that social ladder are way
better prepared to deal with
the humbling experience of a low-class job than your privileged human beings
usually are. After all, it can’t be denied that this is the world they, - the less fortunate -, were born into and,
hence, that is also the world that defines their expectations to begin with. So they should find it somewhat less
challenging to handle the more uncultured aspects of a blue-collar existence. Aristocrats however, if for the
sake of the argument we can call them that, have hardly any experience in dealing with the crude reality of an
uneducated environment. That is why it is barbaric to force them into such circumstances.

AE: In other words, you are saying that some people deserve to receive a favorable treatment just by the virtue
of their birth?

Nd: It is less the element of birth that defines the expectation that you can legitimately have towards somebody.
It is more the prior reality that said person has been living in which illustrates the reach of obligations that you
can reasonably confront that individual with.

AE: In the case of Jasmine Francis however, it needs to be said that she did not grow up being a socialite. As a
matter of fact, she started from the same humble base that her adopted sister did. The blue-collar world should,
therefore, not be all that unfamiliar to her.

Nd: Perhaps. But she eventually left all that behind to the degree that being an aristocrat became her second
nature. And that is why we would argue that she deserves to be treated differently than any old supermarket

AE: Nevertheless, these aren’t feudal times anymore. Nowadays, your position on the social ladder is based on
merit. Hence, it is only fair that she should be starting from the bottom again, - especially after having botched
her chance at being up there.

Nd: You are implying here that she in some way was an accomplice to her husband’s fraudulent activities?

AE: Well, she surely turned a blind eye to them.

Nd: We believe that, by the time she understood the sleaziness of her husband, it was too late for her to jump
ship. By that time she had become addicted to her riches and it would have been impossible for her to give
them up. No, if she is guilty of anything than it is her readiness to become a dependent side-kick to a
successful husband. Instead she should never have given up her own professional aspirations. But even that is
easier sad than done.

AE: Why do say that?

Nd: Because it is not so easy to defend your independence, if you do not have an idea what that independence
should be based on. Unfortunately, some people tend to have their heads in the clouds even before they
realize that is what there problem is. And so it is difficult if not impossible for them to develop the practical
wherewithal that is required to stand on your own two feet.

AE: In other words, Jasmine Francis is an innocent victim of herself?

Nd: Perhaps.
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Blue Jasmine the movie, the humbling experience of downward mobility, the devastating experience of
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philosophy, unjustified expectations of free market philosophy, the barbaric aspects of downward