Mad as Hell…

a sorry, but all too true comment on the Rush Limbaugh’s, the Bob and Tom shows, American Idol…but, more than that, society in general.  Why are people so mean?  Are we becoming meaner as a civilization?  Why is bashing so effective as propaganda?  Why is preying on desperate people, or on their miseries ala Jerry Springer, so financially lucrative as entertainment?

as for a genre of films that explores, “that’s not insanity, it’s a sane response to an insane world,” off the top of my head, I think of the following:

Falling Down
Fight Club
Office Space
Requiem for a Dream (questionably)

Most of those are a somewhat Kafkaesque look at one man, progressively come to pieces by the daily trivialities, triflings, bureaucracy, and everyday sacrifices and annoyances of life.  oh, American Beauty too.  Not necessarily mid-life crisis movies, more just finally being fed up with how life really is.  All the main characters are male as well.  Sure, there are female breaking down movies, such as Girl, Interrupted, but they tend to have a completely different tone.  As if to say men get mad as hell, angry at what society has become, women get sobby, depressed, or psychotic.  Sadly, fight club didn’t allow women…

For no apparent reason, I’m reminded of Roald Dahl, one of my absolute favorite authors as a kid.  My stream of consciousness went along the lines of…movies with male breaking down protagonists…movies with female breaking down protagonists…what about children, reaching a breaking point with a clarity of perception as to the gritty truths of the world…and I thought of Roald Dahl.  Very generally, it’s been years since I read the books, the kids (or only the protagonist) in Roald Dahl’s books are very clever, very perceptive children, smart, capable, and more than a bit sad, while most of the adults in Roald Dahl’s universe are dumb, mean, corrupt, and conniving.  The children seem to sense the dystopia of growing up, and, in many stories, actively choose to abandon the grown up twit world for their own fantastic personalized world of whimsy, whether telepathy, a magical peach, a tardis-like elevator.

Bringing me to a last train of thought, the recent Saving Mr. Banks movie.  I actually didn’t think the movie really had anything to do with the making of Mary Poppins, or Disney.  I thought the movie was actually all about Mrs. P.L. Travers and her childhood.  Given Travers and Disney on how they’ve designed who they became, one theme of the movie was self-reinvention.  I thought the movie did ask some good questions about the benefits or harm of imagination.  Is it wrong to be imaginative?  Was the father, Mr. Goff, essentially destroyed because of his imagination, his old soul, his Celtic spirit?  The idea that having your head in the clouds is dangerous, because the weight of real life holds you down, crushes your spirit.  And for the daughter, was imagination a bad thing, because it blinded children to the truth, didn’t prepare them to deal with reality and tragedy?  To the character P.L. Travers, in the movie, having a strong firm practical (anti-imagination) basis, a hard dose of realism, as represented by the aunt and “science” (the medicine from the city), was her saving grace.

Disney, in the movie, had a hardscrabble life as well, but utilized imagination to save himself, to invent a happier world and a new persona.  And the two characters discuss how to use imagination to even reinvent the past, to heal old wounds.  So the movie poses the complex question of whether imagination is good or bad, when should it be used, and can imagination even be used, oddly enough in a practical real world manner, to resolve pain, to let yourself believe in a happy ending that didn’t occur in real life.  (but, to what end does this become psychosis?)

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