Hollywood’s dangerous ridicule of luxury

Cate Blanchett’s Oscar win of Best Female Actress for her striking role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine may set a new precedent on how cinema redefines luxury thorugh ridicule, portraying the fake side of a luxury lifestyle. The fact that the role is played Cate Blanchett, a classic blond beauty, known for her elegant and fashionable appearances, including many photo shoots for prestigious magazines such as Vanity Fair or Vogue – enhances the mockery of nowadays luxury lifestyle.

Hollywood’s ironic take on luxury is enforced by the Oscar winner of Best Male Actor, Matthew McConaughey, otherwise known for his heartthrob roles in romantic comedies. Matthew McConaughey who rose to fame thanks to his carefully framed tight abs and ”sex symbol” looks, has now become the ideal illustrator of how beauty has become a cliche driven by luxury.

Ironically, both Blanchett and McConaughey are presently the brand ambassadors of the latest Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana fragrances produced and distributed in licensing by global beauty giants L’Oreal and Procter&Gamble, respectively. While both fragrances could have an indirect positive effect thanks to awareness, the long term indirect effect on the brands may be negative.

The ridicule of luxury as potrayed in the Blue Jasmine movie, the main character, a brittle Manhattan socialite who has fallen on hard times, instills an ironic cast emphasizing how shallow and artificial luxury lifestyle can be, riding on the anti-luxury trend which has been reinforcing in both mature and emerging markets, especially due to the global recession. The movie also shows how futile luxury can be and that lifestyle can be deceiving.

In Blue Jasmine, Jasmine Francis, played by Cate Blanchett demonstrates one does not necessarily have to be rich to be able to afford to wear or enjoy luxury braded goods and services. Jasmine travels First Class (although she is broke – probably using miles); wears an Hermes Birkin bag (although she works as a secretary) a Valentino cocktail dress, a Marc Jacobs trench coat, a Cartier watch and carries Louis Vuitton luggage – although she is actually broke.

The fact that Matthew McConaughey’s first different cinematic role was the first to win him an Oscar, also sends a powerful message, suggesting the preference of quality versus superficiality. Had McConaughey not decide to change the register of his roles to low budget art movies and continue to play in romantic comedies, he would have probably never won the Oscar.

Oliver Petcu