“We must understand things in their simplicity before we can explain or correct their complexity. The complexity of commercial society has become intolerable, because that society is commercial and nothing else.” —Chesterton
Yesterday I sat through It. Not a good movie. Whatever themes ran through it are inherent to the story itself, and the movie is a remake, so praising it for what it produced thematically would be superfluous. It didn’t dwell much on those themes, anyhow. Getting over fear and releasing it’s hold on you can indeed overcome much of the evil of the world, but the film doesn’t do a great job of that. It’s alright, I watched the movie approvingly acknowledging the message to myself, but so much takes away from that.
The shock humor, a la Seth Rogen’s hits and that dumb movie about the bear with Mark Whalberg I refuse to look up, was redundant and repugnant, not to mention immature. Literally. I don’t much, since I’ve mentally aged past 18, find placing sex jokes and crudity in the mouths of adolescents very funny. Not only does it absolutely repulse me, but it simply isn’t the way most talk. Teenage years are more vulgar, but the adolescent years are those where innocence and fragility still keep children from being willing to offend others as harshly as the ones in It did.
The humor was of course unfit for the actors’ roles, but it was also unfit for the tone. It seems like a very modern failure to engender a work of art that balances the different elements and features most films inevitably behold: humor, thrill, fright/tension, and romance. Insofar as the movie contains any of these things, they are out of proportion, lopsided. In a movie with allusions to pedophilia both as a human weakness as well as immediate consequence of the existence of evil, you get a girl not 16 laying down in a bra and panties while boys before boys whose voices haven’t even deepened fawn over her before awkwardly looking away once she notices. That kind of shit could only be found in a major feature or avant-garde trash. Maybe the writers figured themselves doing a bit of both.
The children are also minimized adults. I had the same conflict with Stranger Things, but ultimately the latter was able to indicate that childhood hadn’t evaporated yet. With It, you get to watch one of these kids rant ad nauseum about threats to his health a hypochondriac senior in college probably wouldn’t know, a chubby new kid who acts like he’s mimicking guys from romcoms, a vulgar nerd turned self-groping comedian who must have been written by all the douche frats a hollywood budget could afford. None of these kids felt like kids. It isn’t just that parents weren’t around, so the filter was off. It was that they were clearly adults trapped in the bodies of children. Replace all of the children with adults and you’ll get the same exact movie.
If you haven’t seen it, don’t.
What keeps me angry all these years is my refusal to believe that I am alone. To believe and then accept that one is alone is the seed of contentedness for many people. You begin to hold yourself responsible for your actions alone, you don’t get angry at other people because you’re indifferent to them, and you mostly learn to look after your own happiness or peace. I’m not capable of that. And every whiff I catch of it in my nose makes my soul cringe.
Which means I am often cringing because of conservatives and liberals both. Both might give the impression of accepting responsibility and encouraging individuals to do the right then at various points in time, but the fact that they both essentially defend the same individualism and only oppose different institutions should suggest they don’t know what they’re talking about.
While conservatives seem to suppose that people act responsibly and control themselves because conservatives believe in a certain moral system, usually Christianity, they are altogether at a loss of how to recognize why Liberals might have concern about institutional reform in various areas in our society. Conservatives emphasize the individual so much that the individual is essentially provoked to isolation. Isolation of the soul, that is; conservatives still suggest that community, family, and religion — all of which draw the individual outward — are good things. But at the end of the day, these things have suffered because they haven’t been properly, which is to say theologically, understood or supported. The focus conservatives put on the individual’s self-determination precludes any successfully broader defense of the necessities in life. If a person becomes bankrupt, homeless, addicted to drugs, terminally ill because of a condition they could have treated on their own, an immigrant or refugee, a high school dropout, etc., it is because the individual didn’t do enough. I won’t deny this is always to some degree true, but it’s a terrible starting point if your intentions are remote to improving society. If your intentions are to blame people for any and everything they do, then it’s a response consistent with your motives. But then one should wonder why conservatives aren’t harder on the wealthy.
Regarding Liberals, they are often blind to how society can also effect virtue for the better; they often miss how telling people they are free to do certain things can quickly become blaming them alone for their response, and as a consequence people become more atomized as well. Pro-choicers who hear of a woman being raped and having her child speak with confusion and animosity, claiming that was her choice and she shouldn’t go around saying it’s right just because it’s what she wanted. For years now, certain people will say that a guy looking at a woman dressed a certain way is himself seeing her in a sexual manner, for it is him who has the choice of how he looks at women. Speaking to a driver, Uber’s former CEO told the guy off because he was complaining about how little rideshare drivers are now paid. The former CEO said that some people don’t want to better themselves in life. Tell me you wouldn’t expect to hear that from a conservative.
Between the two major political parties essentially casting off concern for certain people (likely, in my thinking, because it is simply too difficult to sympathize with certain people, which depends on who you disagree with or what you despise), American society has ultimately fallen into thinking that people who do what they consider wrong have done it because they chose to. It would do us all one better to see that the individual is always bound to society, or at least to God. To do so would be to always take into consideration the effects that institutions and people around us have on the choices we make. I mean, God is doing that, although he expects us to do the right thing still. But his judgment is final, whereas ours should be responsive and corrective in hopes of sparing one another God’s harshest judgment.
After watching the episodes of The Office leading up to and ending with Jim and Pam getting married, I have gotten the thought that what is wrong with Liberals is their willingness to dance on ceremony. Liberals seem to dance on ceremony like it was a grave, like they are free from imaginary chains that held them down.
The first episode of the pair where Jim and Pam are married deals with particular coldness the only character in the show thus far who might be considered socially conservative, Pam’s grandmother Sylvia (“Meemaw”). Pam and Jim warn the office staff about her before the wedding and hope to ward off any slip of the tongue that might inform her of Pam’s pregnancy. At this point, because Pam and Jim aren’t married, this would prove scandalous in the eyes of Sylvia. When Sylvia finally does find out because Jim misspeaks during a toast, her disappointment is met with Michael’s jokes and excuses, all suggesting Sylvia, this antiquated modicum of a remnant of an artifact of the past, is being uptight and should accept the fact that her granddaughter is pregnant before getting married. It would be have been fair and fine if Sylvia were disappointed and dealt with it, and was even comforted by Pam — if Sylvia got her chance to speak up about why she felt that way, instead of walking out of the dinner before the wedding, and shooting out some garbage defense of what America used to be that any citizen informed by the breadth of MSNBC’s wisdom could write, it would have seemed like she was a real person rather than the shell of the past which the future and progress has successfully emptied of being. As her and Michael talk, she is only coaxed into attending the wedding with a lie.
At that point, I had only begun to feel like the liberal bias in the show was showing. ANd I was content to ignore it. But the rest of the show really does trample some of the romanticism built around Jim and Pam’s, well, romance — their love. The attempts at and successful hookups are the main culprit. But their effect is obvious.
Through a mistake of Pam’s, she ends up feeling like her dress is ruined and that she looks terrible. She then calls Jim to meet and talk. Jim does some shit to his suit. They’re “even” now. And then they head out for a little trip to Niagra Falls as everyone awaits the wedding to begin. When they return, Dwight cuts off that old hag decaying into the dilapidation of decrepitude behind the organ — probably there only to play it, which is a no longer necessary task since these young hep cats got themselves an aux cord and an ipod — and puts on a modern pop song. To this song, everyone dances down the isle. The day is brought to fruition as people dance on ceremony. The vows don’t even show in the episode. All the audience gets is a taste of the many blunders that befell Jim and Pam.
Pardon me, but this all just felt forced. And because it felt forced, I was at least forced by extension to consider what motives there were in writing the episode the way they did. I don’t know if the writers were just happy to finally be getting Jim and Pam wedded off so other characters and plots can receive attention, I don’t really recall if this was the point when the writers’ strike was starting and the show got so unfunny I had to stop watching it. All I know is that they seem to make it plainly obvious that the pressure leading up to a major ceremony is unwarranted and you should just go with it, you should even dance on it to ensure you enjoy all the mayhem that may occur.
If this seems innocuous, it is because we are inundated in a culture that laughs at the past without understanding it. The arrogance is abundant in all the hysteria over statues as well. This is an age which has many and more of the comforts of the past, but no need to refrain from brash judgment like they might have.
This inherent problem is one liberals must face. It is one that can only be faced standing still, observing, ready.
Still reading Alone Together by Sherry Tuckle. It’s goin’ slow but picking up on a paragraph like this is sweet:
As infants, we see the world in parts. There is the good — the things that feed and nourish us. There is the bad — the things that frustrate or deny us. As children mature, they come to see the world in the more complex ways, realizing, for example, that beyond black and white, there are shades of gray. The same mother who feeds us may sometimes have no milk. Over time, we transform a collection of parts into a comprehension of wholes. With this integration, we learn to tolerate disappointment and ambiguity. And we learn that to sustain realistic relationships, one must accept others in their complexity. When we imagine a robot as a true companion, there is no need to do any of this work.