Immediate, Incautious Intimacy: A Trait of the Privileged?

"It’s a peculiar trait of the privileged: immediate, incautious intimacy."

This is from the excellent movie Notes on a Scandal. When I heard it, I paused the film and jotted it down. How true! I have heard this point before. At a summer camp, say, the rich girls by sundown have talked about their first sexual experience whereas the less-well-off are still chatting about their favorite movies. Why does this dynamic exist?

The movie "Notes on a Scandal," by the way, is well worth watching. By its description you might pigeonhole it into the generic "infidelity" category — a movie about an affair, with a twist that appeals to male teens everywhere since it’s an attractive female teacher sleeping with her male student. It is far more complicated, though, and explores the theme of loneliness in stunning fashion.

As part of my quest to watch some of the best movies ever made (I watch so few movies – 4 so far in 2007 – that I want each to be awesome), I also recently rented The Shawshank Redemption. I had high expectations and the film met them. There’s a reason it’s #2 on the IMDb Top 250 list.

13 Responses to Immediate, Incautious Intimacy: A Trait of the Privileged?

  1. Scott Jackson says:

    Watch A Man with a Movie Camera.
    Also see films by Kenneth Anger

  2. Toli G. says:

    The script of The Shawshank Redemption is perfect.

    That IMDB list is (mostly) good. All the movies there are worth watching for their own sake.

    Also, you should look into the AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Cheers” list, all about the most inspirational movies ever made.

    When you want art-house and foreign films, go to link to janusfilms.com. That list is the best introduction to foreign cinema that I know of, and may serve as a launching pad into other interests and explorations.

    Akira Kurosawa has helped me in my understanding of Japanese culture and temperament, and may do so for you as well.

    Now and then I throw a movie that I know is terrible into the mix because I always learn a lot about storytelling by watching them.

  3. Toli G. says:

    The script of The Shawshank Redemption is perfect.

    That IMDB list is (mostly) good. All the movies there are worth watching for their own sake.

    Also, you should look into the AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Cheers” list, all about the most inspirational movies ever made.

    When you want art-house and foreign films, go to link to janusfilms.com. That list is the best introduction to foreign cinema that I know of, and may serve as a launching pad into other interests and explorations.

    Akira Kurosawa has helped me in my understanding of Japanese culture and temperament, and may do so for you as well.

    Now and then I throw a movie that I know is terrible into the mix because I always learn a lot about storytelling by watching them.

  4. andy says:

    haha, i love the imdb enthusiasm ben! i’m going to beat you to the top 250 though :)

    by the way, i don’t agree at all about the point of your post, and i would probably argue the opposite, or at least that there is no correlation between socioeconomic status and their age when they had first had sex. i would agree that perhaps the rich have more luxury for casual sex once they get older or maybe more oppurtunity for affairs, but i don’t think that they necessarily start younger. but kudos on the newfound love of movies. i think you’ll see that it’ll enrich your conversation and your enjoyment of pop culture exponentially.

  5. Ben Casnocha says:

    Andy: The point was not that the actual sexual experience first took place earlier for wealthy children, but that they are more apt to talk about those kinds of intimate experiences with friends they just met at a summer camp (for example).

  6. Tony says:

    I would have to somewhat agree with you. I have known very very wealthy people, and once you are “In the circle” they will open you to all kinds of information. Some personal disgusting habits and some business related. For example, I was at a dinner a few years ago where the sum net worth of the men at the table was several billion dollars. The gentleman next to me began to let me in on everyone’s secrets. This one has a sideline business smuggling diamonds. That one is under investigation for securities fraud. On and on – everyone was into something and willing to talk about it.

    Having grown up of modest (read meager) means, there were people I knew who were proud of robbing, stealing or hurting others. These people also had no qualms about discussing bowel movements of G.I. ailments with strangers.

    It was the “middle class” crowd that seemed to maintain the moral fortitude and level of class that attracted me to them. They maintained a certain level of modesty, humility and dedication to the ideal that hard wok is the surest way to affluence – rather than stealing like the other two groups.

    I know this almost makes a Marxist out of me, but it is the sum of my experience. I will say that I have also found a great many decent people in the two former groups, but they are heavily outweighed by scum.

    So I will say it is those who see themselves “above” others that seem to have this practice of openness. The criminals think they are smarter than the rest of us, and fo that fact, so do many of the wealthy that didn’t have to work for their money. I think that is the differentiation. If you “have” without earning, you have usually lost out on the character building trials it requires to gain wealth legitimately. Without character, you are unable to read your moral compass correctly.

    It is just my opinion though.

  7. Krishna says:

    I think that trait is more individualistic and not exclusive to any class or group.

    People that purposefully want to signal to others “Look, how cool am I” – doing that awkward something and later coming out with it – end up being incautious, if not immediate.

    Whether one can attribute it to any privileged group, I am not so sure.

  8. Chris Yeh says:

    The connection is not between privilege and intimacy, but rather privilege and risk-tolerance.

    The underprivileged are cautious for a damn good reason–mistakes are much more costly without the safety net of money and resources.

  9. Gregory says:

    I think you will find that if you work through the IMDB top 250, that you will get a strike rate of around 33% or less that will actually be Really Good.

    Personally, im a lover of technical, dramatic excellence and movies that can communicate a message in a clever way. A lot of movies you will find on that list have either a nostalgia factor(Casablanca is a *terrible* movie), have some sort of uninspired message or curiosity that can be analysed (Dr Strangelove, Blade Runner, 2001), or it was a movie that did something innovative, like a new style, for the time(eg. Sin City).

    I spent the early part of the last year watching a lot of movies in that top list. Out of the top 100, I found the following to be quite good[no order]:
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    12 Angry Men
    Cidade de Deus
    The Usual Suspects
    Amadeus
    The Elephant Man [watch it for the ending scene]
    (common: Memento, Se7en, Fight Club, Braveheart)

    The most engaging movies I have probably watched in recent times was Child of Man. While it probably didn’t have the strongest ending, and the baby CGI was distracting. It had some gorgeous cinematography, and really involved you in the story.

  10. nikhil says:

    I agree with Chris about Imdb movies.
    Personally I like movies which allow me to carry back something from them, and so top movies like Bladerunner only manage to irritate me.
    Do watch Godfather though.You can skip the second and third parts but the first movie is a classic.

  11. Tyler Willis says:

    Ben,

    I look forward to hearing how your movie quest goes. While the film world could never fully convert a reading man of such passion, we could only hope to engender similar pursuit.

    Here’s to hoping for a recent viewing widget in the near future :)

  12. sarah says:

    you should watch “meet joe black” with Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins..its about an entrepreneur and is one of the best movies of the 90s, i think you would like it

  13. Samantha says:

    I recently watched Notes on a Scandal and I, too, was very moved by this quote and paused to write it down. After reading all these different opinions, it absolutely makes me rethink the intention of the line but my first take on it was that Judi Dench’s character was not speaking of Cate Blanchett’s character’s wealth or family inheritance. We are not even sure that her character grew up in a wealthy home or a good environment, only that she had inherited a nice home.

    To me, Judi Dench’s character (Barbara) was speaking about Sheba’s quickness to open up. Upon the first dinner, she is already telling Barbara about her mother and past troubles and pain. It was very powerful to me because even though Sheba’s character had gone through many painful experiences, she was still privy to this immediate, incautious intimacy. I think that can be a beautiful thing.
    Just what I got from it though.

    P.S. If you are trying to watch great movies, take a look at some of the few:
    The Hours, Capote, Transamerica, Girl, Interrupted, Heights, i am sam, Mystic River, Atonement, Rachel Getting Married, The Reader, Little Children. I just started trying to watch great movies too. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>