November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

High School Musical 3 follows Troy and Gabriella and company through their senior year of high school, ending with a heart-touching (not) number about how, even though the former classmates are traveling to opposite ends of the country to pursue their personal goals and dreams, they’ll remain friends forever. Millions of kids sat through those 90 minutes and likely believed every word of it I. I’m guessing that the few adults who attended either criticized the entire time or submitted themselves to 1.5 musical, colorful hours of the willful suspension of disbelief. Through this movie, Disney seems to be claiming that friends are forever. At least, they are in Hollywood. In front of the camera, never behind.

Even though life doesn’t usually work out that way, people still like to hope that it will. In my opinion, that hope is a big part of the reason HSM3 made $16.5 million on its opening day. Granted, a lot of the income was from elementary and junior high girls who just wanted to see Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens sing and dance. But I’d venture to argue that part of the appeal is the message that the movie portrays: the message that friends are fairy-tale quality and that all the people you like will like you back and that those you love will never leave your side.

As we grow up, we learn that this isn’t the case and that life is hardly a Disney movie. But we still like to dream. So I paid my $8 and sat through all the catchy songs and Zanessa nonsense and realized that, even though I was cynically criticizing the characters for claiming they would always be together, they were all doing and saying exactly what I had done and said. I used to have that same hope. As a kid, every time I met a new set of friends I thought, “these will be my buddies forever.” I was always wrong. At first it depressed me, because I missed my friends. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that an ideal social situation is not the one advertised at the end of HSM3, because for that scenario to work, time would have to freeze. But like it or not, we can’t stay in high school forever. (Thank god.) Life is constantly, fluidly moving forward and hence so must be our circles of friendship.

You get friends specific to your location and circumstance, and when either or both of those things changes, so does your peer group. The change isn’t a bad thing — in fact, if you were forced to drag the same set of friends through all of your life’s changes your social life could get unreasonably tiresome. In other words, “We’re all in this together” may be sung with jubilation at the beginning of high school, but its an anthem of doom to adult life.


The Painful Truth

November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Why do we like to laugh at people getting hurt?

I think it all boils down to the fact that humans thrive on similarity, and pain is something we, unfortunately but universally, share.

My second hypothesis is that as subjects of occasionally awful luck we like to watch karma dish itself out once in a while onto other people’s heads. It is under this assumption that America’s Funniest Home Videos has made a fortune and aired for years. For the sympathetic soul, watching it is half cringing, half laughing. Haha their ATV tipped over, haha they fell through the trampoline, haha they slipped on the bathroom floor, haha they crashed into a window, haha haha haha haha! That looked like it hurt. Hahahahaha!!!

Most of the humor in The Three Stooges is slapstick comedy of the hammers-dropped-on toes variety. So is the humor in Bugs Bunny. Disney’s Pinocchio falls down the stairs. In the Home Alone movies, the bad guys get bricks dropped on their faces, step on nails, and get their hair set on fire. None of these instances are meant to satisfy sadistic urges or model behaviors; they are intended to make people laugh. And I think the reason it makes us laugh is that it reminds us of ourselves. We make mistakes all the time and so, while it feels almost wrong to laugh at this type of entertainment, in reality we are really only laughing at ourselves. So watch the stooges guilt-free and laugh until you pee your pants, because there really isn’t any substitute for vicarious tomfoolery.

A comedian died last night, Rorschach (Watchmen) says. But his death, though tragic, was a comedic act in itself, for every brutal tragedy invents another shade on the comedic color wheel to add to the ironic palette of humor.

Brain Amputation

November 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

‎127 hours: because Hollywood knew the only way to get people to watch a man saw off his arm would be to entice them with the promise that at least he’d look good doing it.

Welcome to Brainicide. We’re here to inform you about the hole of mental atrophy postmodern society is in the process of digging. If we’re not careful, we’re going to fall in.

Now back to the gore. James Franco stars in this November’s Hollywood adaption of Aron Lee Ralston’s tragic mountain climbing incident lending a pretty face to portray a gruesome reality. This isn’t quite as it should be.

I’m not saying I’m upset that they cast Franco as the lead role — I admire Franco if not for his acting expertise than for his stunning good looks. But I have a problem with the way in which the film industry manipulates our emotions with beautiful faces to hide ugly truths. I almost went and saw the movie just to watch him, planning to shut my eyes during the stomach-turning climax. Then I realized what I was doing.

The more often we focus on glamorous cover-ups instead of actuality, the more we dupe our minds. This blog is about fighting that urge and refusing to be tricked by a shimmering outer layer. We encourage you to see things for the way they really are, lest we maim our minds, our world, and our future.

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