Eyes Wide Shut and Conservative Depravity

Here’s a multiple-choice test about four American captains of industry.

In his spare time, Henry Ford:

(a) Competed and won motor car races.
(b) Campaigned vigorously against smoking.
(c) Devised inventions that earned him 161 patents.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, J.P. Morgan:

(a) Enjoyed boating aboard his many yachts.
(b) Was an avid collector of gems, books, and art objects.
(c) Sat patiently for a number of portraits.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, Andrew Carnegie:

(a) Corresponded with Mark Twain.
(b) Wrote a book in defense of democracy.
(c) Enjoyed hunting and fishing.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, Bill Gates:

(a) Appeared in a commercial with Jerry Seinfeld.
(b) Enjoys playing bridge, tennis, and golf.
(c) Is an avid reader and book collector.
(d) Dons a black cape and a mask and attends orgies.

If you answered (d) to any of these (other than in jest), you either are in urgent need of psychiatric treatment or have swallowed whole a malicious fantasy perpetrated by Stanley Kubrick’s last movie, Eyes Wide Shut (1999).  Starring Tom Cruise and his then wife Nicole Kidman, this ponderous and pompous film peddles the absurd notion that America’s wealthy (all Republicans, of course) have nothing better to do with their spare time than to congregate in sworn secrecy behind stone walls and iron gates so they can don black capes and elaborate masks to watch sex acts with prostitutes.

Set aside claims that Eyes Wide Shut is art.  Kubrick’s movie implies that the rich are morally depraved in general, kinky sex being just a symptom, though not a trivial one.  I’ll mention two other forms “progressives” have alleged.

One form of moral depravity the left alleges among the rich is economic.  Affluence, said Marx, can be achieved only through exploitation, cheating, and other underhanded means.  The rich must be taught a lesson they will never forget, as happened in Russia in 1917 and in China in 1949 – though both countries have since recanted.  (“Hello, Karl?”)  What we have in this country today are essentially variations on the Marxist theme: the clamor for increased taxes on high earners for the sake of “income equality,” a Democratic Party mantra; government intrusion into or control of private industry for the sake of “fairness,” as practiced on a grand scale by the Obama administration (e.g., the so-called Affordable Care Act); the populist propaganda of the Occupy Wall Street rabble, which accused corporations of greed, corruption, and undue influence on government; character assassination campaigns against politicians who achieved personal wealth (e.g., the demonization of Governor Romney during the 2012 presidential election); and so on.

Another form of moral depravity of which the wealthy – again, all Republicans – have been accused is an attitude toward women that the Democratic Party would later file under “the war on women.”  Kubrick was ahead of his time.  In Eyes Wide Shut, the women performing sex acts are hired explicitly for their impressive physical attributes.  They are all are very beautiful.  Still, they are all prostitutes – mere objects with, in this case, entertainment value.  When one of the women dies of a drug overdose after the sex party, her death is explained as nothing more than the result of a bad habit gone awry.  The ominous piano music, however, encourages the viewer to believe otherwise.  The woman had warned the Cruise character, who had crashed the orgy out of curiosity, that he was in grave danger.  She had evidently violated the secrecy condition of her contract and had to be punished.  The punishment meted out, the movie implies, is how the capitalist employer deals with someone on the shop floor who dares to step out of line.

Language such as “the moral depravity of capitalism,” routine in socialist Europe and in academia pretty much everywhere, is far too inflammatory for most American politicians to throw around.  Though highly divisive, the Obama administration has been careful to stay away from overt Marxist rhetoric, employing instead various euphemisms to convey the message that there’s something fundamentally wrong with America.  Barack Obama was elected twice by tens of millions of Americans who expected the entitlement sluice gates to open and “fix” what was wrong.  Those gates certainly did open, raising the national debt to unheard-of levels financed with loans from…communist China.  Let’s see how the Democratic Party platform spins that one in the summer of 2016.

Here’s a multiple-choice test about four American captains of industry.

In his spare time, Henry Ford:

(a) Competed and won motor car races.
(b) Campaigned vigorously against smoking.
(c) Devised inventions that earned him 161 patents.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, J.P. Morgan:

(a) Enjoyed boating aboard his many yachts.
(b) Was an avid collector of gems, books, and art objects.
(c) Sat patiently for a number of portraits.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, Andrew Carnegie:

(a) Corresponded with Mark Twain.
(b) Wrote a book in defense of democracy.
(c) Enjoyed hunting and fishing.
(d) Donned a black cape and a mask and attended orgies.

In his spare time, Bill Gates:

(a) Appeared in a commercial with Jerry Seinfeld.
(b) Enjoys playing bridge, tennis, and golf.
(c) Is an avid reader and book collector.
(d) Dons a black cape and a mask and attends orgies.

If you answered (d) to any of these (other than in jest), you either are in urgent need of psychiatric treatment or have swallowed whole a malicious fantasy perpetrated by Stanley Kubrick’s last movie, Eyes Wide Shut (1999).  Starring Tom Cruise and his then wife Nicole Kidman, this ponderous and pompous film peddles the absurd notion that America’s wealthy (all Republicans, of course) have nothing better to do with their spare time than to congregate in sworn secrecy behind stone walls and iron gates so they can don black capes and elaborate masks to watch sex acts with prostitutes.

Set aside claims that Eyes Wide Shut is art.  Kubrick’s movie implies that the rich are morally depraved in general, kinky sex being just a symptom, though not a trivial one.  I’ll mention two other forms “progressives” have alleged.

One form of moral depravity the left alleges among the rich is economic.  Affluence, said Marx, can be achieved only through exploitation, cheating, and other underhanded means.  The rich must be taught a lesson they will never forget, as happened in Russia in 1917 and in China in 1949 – though both countries have since recanted.  (“Hello, Karl?”)  What we have in this country today are essentially variations on the Marxist theme: the clamor for increased taxes on high earners for the sake of “income equality,” a Democratic Party mantra; government intrusion into or control of private industry for the sake of “fairness,” as practiced on a grand scale by the Obama administration (e.g., the so-called Affordable Care Act); the populist propaganda of the Occupy Wall Street rabble, which accused corporations of greed, corruption, and undue influence on government; character assassination campaigns against politicians who achieved personal wealth (e.g., the demonization of Governor Romney during the 2012 presidential election); and so on.

Another form of moral depravity of which the wealthy – again, all Republicans – have been accused is an attitude toward women that the Democratic Party would later file under “the war on women.”  Kubrick was ahead of his time.  In Eyes Wide Shut, the women performing sex acts are hired explicitly for their impressive physical attributes.  They are all are very beautiful.  Still, they are all prostitutes – mere objects with, in this case, entertainment value.  When one of the women dies of a drug overdose after the sex party, her death is explained as nothing more than the result of a bad habit gone awry.  The ominous piano music, however, encourages the viewer to believe otherwise.  The woman had warned the Cruise character, who had crashed the orgy out of curiosity, that he was in grave danger.  She had evidently violated the secrecy condition of her contract and had to be punished.  The punishment meted out, the movie implies, is how the capitalist employer deals with someone on the shop floor who dares to step out of line.

Language such as “the moral depravity of capitalism,” routine in socialist Europe and in academia pretty much everywhere, is far too inflammatory for most American politicians to throw around.  Though highly divisive, the Obama administration has been careful to stay away from overt Marxist rhetoric, employing instead various euphemisms to convey the message that there’s something fundamentally wrong with America.  Barack Obama was elected twice by tens of millions of Americans who expected the entitlement sluice gates to open and “fix” what was wrong.  Those gates certainly did open, raising the national debt to unheard-of levels financed with loans from…communist China.  Let’s see how the Democratic Party platform spins that one in the summer of 2016.