Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Powerful People and Eyes Wide Shut

12 February 2015


I have always loved Gino Vannelli’s 1974 song Powerful People. Stanley Kubrick’s movie Eyes Wide Shut (1999) with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman was fascinating. Yet I had trouble believing its topic. The rather public bunga bunga sex parties of the former Italian PM did not change that belief. The court case against the former chairman of the IMF – and his admissions so far – feels like proof however.

The movie is about Tom Cruise who learns about a secret sexual group and decides to attend one of their congregations by using the password supplied by a friend. He gains access to the party which is held at a remote mansion on Long Island. The party features cloaked and mask-clad men and women performing quasi-religious pagan like rituals of pornographic nature, before retiring to watch or participate in a variety of sexual acts in other rooms through the mansion. However, Tom Cruise quickly learns he is in well over his head and finds he and his family are threatened (source: IMDB).

The beautiful term “eyes wide shut” feels like an intriguing combination of amazement, humiliation, shame and secrecy. In a more political connotation it would feel like tolerating (sexually) erratic behaviour of powerful people in business and politics.

There is a history full of powerful men and sex scandals. Hence there must be a relationship. What is it that drives these men towards their imminent fall?

There are two sides to this story. The one that is often talked about deals with the entourage surrounding powerful people. Like groupies to a popular band. People change their behaviour towards powerful people. Power attracts sex though I prefer the beautiful Dutch phrase ‘macht erotiseert’. Power has some kind of mystical erotic element towards the people not being in power.

The more interesting question is why powerful people become receptive towards such temptation. Why engage in illegal, immoral or unethical activities that may lead to your fall from power into disgrace and oblivion?

Reasons may be the abundant availability within the entourage, or it’s just basic human (sexual) behaviour, or it’s like stress relief from overly demanding jobs, or that power is like a drug that clouds your mind. While all these explanation make sense, none seems to be prevailing.

Apparently even science has difficulty explaining this topic. Yet at least science ruled out that it is exclusive male behaviour. The same behaviour applies to women in power. 

I feel that prolonged power makes people feel untouchable. Relative power transcends into a feeling of absolute power. Partly resulting from submissive behaviour of subordinates, partly resulting from the privileges that naturally come with power. In this permissive environment powerful people get the perception that they are like gods, kings or emperors who indeed had absolute power.

Unfortunately, powerful people tend to forget that they were chosen or elected and that such a process can be easily reversed. Using violence is no longer required unlike removing kings and emperors in ancient times. Nowadays power is relative and never absolute.

It can’t be a surprise that I love seeing Game of Thrones (HBO) and House of Cards (Netflix).


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