Thursday, March 12, 2009

You are a Precious Snowflake

Another older article, written for another site, that I wanted to send back into the light of day.

Movies That Want You To Think You Are Unique

Everybody thinks that they're special. We all want to believe that we have some great talent or some destiny that we were meant for and all we need is the right opportunity to show the world how great we really are. Admittedly, this illusion is easier to bear than the reality, which is that we are a congregation of cells that follow a basic pattern and that the vast bulk of us will never be remembered for anything by future generations once we slip off the mortal coil. Most of our talents involve things we did when drunk ("I can projectile vomit four whole feet. Will I use it for good or evil?"). We like entertainment that reinforces our concept of uniqueness and we keep alive the myth that anyone can become someone of merit, ignoring the fact that most people who make it in this society do so by either years of hard work or dumb fucking luck, if not both. Here are some movies that would have us believe otherwise:

8. "The Matrix." This world can't be real, it's all just a ruse. You aren't really just some dipshit office drone with no girlfriend and crappy meth-addict friends. You're really the savior of the human race, imbued from birth with the power to control reality. Yeah fuckin' right. This is every entitled white college-age male's wet dream. You are so much better than those sheeple, you know what's really going on because you look at stuff on the Internet. We're all being controlled and only you know it and if they just listened to you we could fix all this shit. Except they don't listen to you because you're a flabby, white asshole who's never done a real day's work you didn't whine about and spends his days downloading "South Park" episodes and babbling about Ayn Rand and that worthless Ron Paul prick on whatever website that hasn't booted your trolling ass yet.

Goddammit, I hate "The Matrix."

7. "Star Wars." The original trilogy got by on pure entertainment, while the prequels exist on the white-hot force of George Lucus' hatred for humanity, but the real secret of the success of this series is the baseline concept that you might actually be an uber-cool zen knight who could totally rip a fucker in half with your brain. In the original trilogy you see Luke Skywalker going through about a month of training in a shitty-ass swamp and he becomes some kind of Space Jesus for the effort. At least he put some work into it. In the prequels we find that all that Jedi shit is based on a biochemical reaction that you are born with, so only an elite few can master the powers. Thus we get the future Darth Vader building rocket sleds and fighting space battles when he's still old enough to be wetting the bed. Effort is for losers.

6. "Wanted." Probably the most recent example of this phenomenon. Some jackass becomes a super-assassin based totally on the merit that his father was a super-assassin. Because learned behavior is apparently hereditary. Would you let a guy perform surgery on you based on the fact that his father was a brilliant surgeon? Let me answer that for you: Fuck no, you would not. You would send the little bastard to medical school and see if he can figure out the right way to hold a scalpel before you even let him near your appendix. Thinking like this is what got George W. Bush elected president. His daddy was a smart guy with the foreign policy, maybe some of it rubbed off on Junior. Except that his dad was a former CIA director and had served as vice-president for 8 years, whilst GWB pissed away fortunes and spent his free time snorting coke off a hooker's tits. We all know how great it turned out.

5. "Pirates of the Caribbean." I'm not talking about crazy-as-fuck Johnny Depp here, but rather Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Sure, he was a good sword fighter because he practiced all the time, but where the fuck did he pick up all those sailing skills? On something like his second boat ride he's ordering a group of hardened sailors around like he's Lord Nelson. What does sword fighting and blacksmithing have to do with sailing? Absolutely jack shit. Oh right, his father was a pirate. But what about Knightly? Her father was a babbling idiot, but you don't see her possessed with his remarkable "acting like a retard" abilities. No, she's up there telling pirates how to run a ship, when in reality the same group would have raped her to death and hoisted Bloom up the mast by his hairless genitalia, then gone on their merry way.

4. "Harry Potter." Tell me something: in any of the books or movies, did Harry Potter ever have to make any kind of effort to get his skills? He was a bad student, a naturally gifted jock, gets a pass on everything because of his family connections and without even trying has all the powers of a god. And we're supposed to root for this asshole?

3. "X-Men." Most comic book movies could fit into this category, as their bread-and-butter is adolescent wish-fulfillment. But quite a few make being a superhero seem like work. Bruce Banner is a brilliant scientist who suffers for his errors by becoming the Hulk, Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark reject their privileged lives by working hard to do right for humanity, Peter Parker gets nothing but personal fulfillment from his heroics, often at great sacrifice. Even Superman has the whole "moral uprightness" thing, his small town values the only thing standing in the way of him ruling us like a god on Earth. But in the X-Men universe, anyone could be born with incredible powers, no effort or consequences necessary. Naturally, society fears them, but then again being a victim sure makes you feel self-righteous and awesome. Why do you think Wolverine is the most popular X-Man? Because we all know that if we had powers like that, we would be the lawless-bad-ass-loner type, rather than the principled and hard-working Cyclops.

2. "Chronicles of Narnia." When life has you down and society doesn't seem to understand you, why not escape into a magical fantasy world where you are regarded as important for no other reason than because a prophecy said you would be? Never accomplished anything, never done anything of merit? No problem, just go from point A to point B and we will treat you like a hero.

1. "Cinderella." Probably the most insidious myth to pervade human relationships in the Western world in the last century. The original tale, in its various incarnations, is a lot darker and not as pleasant. People really go for the Disney version here, since it whitewashes everything. Sure, you toil ceaselessly for a family that doesn't understand how special you really are, but one day someone will come by and give you everything you want and then a rich man will fall deeply in love with you. Why will he love you? Well, for your looks and demeanor. "Love at first sight" doesn't leave a lot of room for him to notice your personality. Despite years of feminist deconstruction, this myth still exists within just about every romantic comedy that passes through our theaters like turds on their way to a sewage treatment plant. Both genders buy this shit, in their own way.

You want to find someone worthwhile? Then read a book every now and then, get a hobby, improve your mind and personality and try not to be such an asshole to everyone. Maybe then you'll meet someone who likes you and treats you with some dignity. You're not special. Being one in a million just means there are 6,000 people in the world exactly like you. Grow up.

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