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  • Sam Hafetz

Aphorisms for The Upper East Side Elite: A Review of Metropolitan

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

An aphorism is a pithy observation that contains a general truth( That definition is copy and pasted from Merriam Webster.). I’m sure scholars of the literary arts have other definitions of what an aphorism is, but what’s cool about living in the cyber age is that I can easily find my favorite definition of a word and spin it as my own. But now I should give examples of aphorisms that reaffirm my favorite definition of the term. Because, isn't just listing examples that confirm your opinion how we begin to form a point of view?

Here are some examples that reaffirm my own definition of an aphorism: “When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” (Freidrich Nietzsche); “Always ask yourself what will happen if you say nothing.” (Kamand Kojuuri); and “History is written by the victor.” (Walter Benjamin). I picked these ones because when I first discovered aphorisms, these were the first three that struck me. ( That is bullshit. I merely googled “best aphorisms” and found these.)

I picked movies as the medium to use aphoristic reviews because I feel that movies, whether they are bad or brilliant, always have aphoristic moments. What I mean is that movies are the visual art that have the most tiny moments that feel like general truths. This is true whether that moment is some understated line reading, a profound shot of some inanimate object, or just a close-up of a performer’s face.( I don’t think movies are that powerful, I just think movies are easy to review.)

So here are 11(I picked the number eleven, because I’m using a size 11 font.) aphorisms on Whit Stillman’s famed comedy of manners about 20 somethings living in New York’s Upper East Side, Metropolitan (1990). I hope that by the end of this review of Metropolitan my aphoristic reflections of the film help you recognize whether the general truths of the film would interest you enough to watch it.

  1. The bourgeoisie always talks about reinvention and yet manages to stay the same throughout history.

  2. Displaying your love of art is just a way to display your own elitism.

  3. In order to love a piece of art, you must not discuss it in conversation; instead you must live your life according to the truth of that piece of art.

  4. Manners are a made-up tactic to make people feel embarrassed.

  5. Life without conflict is boring, and that’s how the bourgeoisie realizes there is sadness in the world.

  6. Conflict is entirely relative to your privilege.

  7. American cities eventually become the suburbs, because in both of them you only congregate with people who are just reflections of yourself.

  8. Living in a city is just as mundane as the suburbs: the only difference is city folk have more eleclictic armour.

  9. The bourgeoisie will never truly reinvent themselves because they will never realize there are people living differently

  10. The best type of comedy involves characters thinking they are super special and then the viewer figuring out they are just as lost as everyone else. And that’s why Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan is so great.

  11. And, lastly, an aphorism is just a writer shitting on a table and then having people discuss your shit.