I recently saw the new movie Gone Girl staring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (spoiler alert). One of the characters is a Harvard grad who creates a fake identity as a working class person. While hanging out with working class friends, she accidentally drops a huge stash of cash on the ground, exposing the fact that she is much richer than she has been pretending to be. A little later, the two working class friends (a man and woman) show up at the Harvard grad’s apartment. They force their way in and start turning over furniture until they find all her cash and leave with it. The Harvard grad threatens to call the police, but one of the “friends” say something like “Lady, you’re hiding. I don’t what from, and I don’t care, but you ain’t calling no police.”
It was an interesting scene, because the Harvard grad had been placed at the top of society, artificially, by high SAT scores and the Ivy League caste system, but by making a dumb mistake in the real world (failing to hide her money) she was dominated by the Darwinian law of the jungle (might is right). In the end, nature always wins.
In reminded me of an episode of The Sopranos where Carmela (the wife of mobster Tony Soprano) wants to get their daughter into an elite school. She turns to a neighbor (who has a sister who works as a professor at the elite college) to ask if her sister can pull some strings. The neighbor dodges the question by saying something like “with your daughters great grades and SAT score, she doesn’t need my sister’s help getting in.” But Carmela explains that these days, elite colleges are so competitive that high grades and high test scores are not enough.
So reluctantly, the neighbor phones her professor sister to try to get her to write a letter of recommendation for Carmela’s daughter. Absolutely not, responds the professor, explaining that it’s a prestigious college so they can’t have the children of gangsters crawling around the campus. When the neighbor explains to Carmela that her sister can’t write the letter, Carmela is nonplussed.
Carmela decides to visit the professor at her office, bringing lazania as a gift. She introduces herself and asks if the professor can write the letter. The professor makes up some excuse about having to write a letter for some other worthy student. Carmela says the solution is simple, just explain to that student that you can’t write the letter for him. The professor explains that she can’t.
“I don’t think you understand,” says Carmela ominously. “I want you to write that letter”
“Are you threatening me?” asks the professor trembling.
“Who’s threatening? I brought you some lazania,” Carmela replies.
Being smart enough to take the hint and realize you don’t fuck with a mobster’s wife, the terrified professor panics and writes the letter as fast as she can and Carmela’s daughter is accepted into the school post haste. It was interesting, because you think of Tony Soprano as being the tough one in the family, but you can see that his wife has a little of the mobster toughness in her too, but is more subtle about it, and uses it to advance more feminine goals (getting their kid into a good college).
It’s interesting that the despite needing a letter of recommendation, the Soprano daughter was academically qualified to attend the elite school. She probably inherited high IQ genes from Tony Soprona who in one episode stated that his IQ is 136. I remembered thinking this is quite high because although mobsters are rich (a sign of high IQ), they’re also violent criminals with typically low education (both signs of low IQ), so on balance, their IQs should be above average, but nothing special. John Gotti for example had an IQ of 110. But then Tony Soprano seems to have a huge cranium.