The Sad Truth About Relationships

Quite to my surprise, over the last few years I began to recognize that I felt scared of being an ordinary person and I have been losing that fear. I have actually seen some nice things about that. This cartoon about American middleclass relationships put that fear back into me:

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4 thoughts on “The Sad Truth About Relationships”

  1. Wow, great movie.

    As for “being an ordinary person” it reminds me of the phrase “maybe some day, I’ll be somebody” in our culture, a phrase that speaks volumes about how little our culture values “ordinary” people and lives (news flash: society is glorifying often the least valuable things and demeaning the deepest essence of what ‘ordinary’ life is about) and programs insecurities into us all while pushing hypercompetitiveness to try to climb up various artificial ladders so we can feel we are someday finally a ‘somebody’

    As for the movie, it’s way, way more radical than it appears. As has been pointed out by others, with humor one can get away with saying a lot of things that in other contexts you couldn’t get away with..not without negative reactions or being labels crazy, radical, worry-wart, sourpus, etc, etc.

    The movie show shallow values, pre-planned lives, how we go through the motions, with our lives pre programmed for us, and how we try to find meaning in things like a new big house or in our children. Houses can be neat, and human beings, newly born ones, children are unique, beautiful wonders, of course, but that doesn’t alter the fact that we live in a world in which 1/3 or our lives (work) is for millions, not a deep, empowering source of satisfactiona dn fulfillment, and much of the other nonsleeping 1/3 is in a society which gives us way more shallow temptations and distractions, and way too little ways to connect meaningfully to others or to our inner selves, so, lacking such connections and pathways, we lack key parts of what it means to be human, so we clutch even more strongly on to those few parts that are beautiful that haven’t been taken away (babies) and clutch more strongly to those which are faux outlets (materialism) This movie says it better than I could, and with humor and sensitivity, since it would be difficult as a child-free person who plans to stay that way, to point out some of what I’ve observed about not just materialism but about child-rearing, and its role in our society..this movie says it without letting people feel bashed (they do NOT deserve to be bashed) for having kids or planning to, while still giving them an opportunity to think, hmmm, am I sure about the path (or autopilot) in on? It’s the autopilot we’ve all been put on, so none of us should beat-up on ourselves for being on that auto-pilot, it’s not our fault that’s the culture all around us, but it is our option to shift (slightly or by a lot) out of it.

    I still get sad inside reading people (like those profiled on my recent blog entry who are economically struggling) talking about “we want to start a family some day” Hello! You already ARE a family. It’s not just demaning to those of us who will remain child-free, it’s also demeaning to yourselves if you don’t consider yourself a ARE one…two partners living as a family. IF you want to be a family _with_kids_ later on, that’s fine, that’s great, but you’re still a family already. Again, it’s not people’s fault for using this language it’s the langauge we all pick up from our culture, so I don’t blame/bash them individually, but we should question and rebel against language like that, as has been done in many other liberation movements, even if the liberation movement this film is related to might not yet have a name 🙂

  2. A quote relating to worries about being “ordinary”..and I think the “congratulations” apply to you, Steve, so I hope you not only take this to heart, but are also heartened and encouraged by this quote:

    “I would tell [those planning to live outside the mainstream] this: You are probably already ahead of the game, because you’re thinking of what you do to live a meaningful life. Most people appear not to give this much thought: they think of what they can do to make money, then how to spend the money; they use their time on earth making and spending money — acquiring and consuming. The less ‘ambitious’ ones pass time (kill time) sitting in jobs they don’t really like, then finding ways to be entertained in their off-hours. So (I would say), congratulations. you are probably more self-aware and more intellectually alive than most of your peers. This is definitely a good thing. But you must understand: you are probably not going to become famous…..

    ..However (and here’s where I hesitate, uncertain about this myself) perhaps, not in the middle of your life, but at the end of your life, you will look back and see that fame, fortune, and accolades do not matter. What matters is that you have given the time you had on earth to the pursuit of living meaningfully, to shedding some light on this strange and hurtful human existence, to making the world a better place. You have not passed your time on earth simply acquiring as much stuff as possible, staring blankly at a television screen, converting products to garbage, producing junk that no on needs, tricking people out of a buck or two, or letting your intellect and talents rot..” -A.D. Nauman, quoted in The Murdering of Our Years (sorry for any typos)

  3. this bit makes me feel really weird. i don’t know how to feel about it. in perspective of my own life, i philosophically agree: i see people chasing this carrot of a happy marriage and a house and 2.5 kids and a dog all over the place, and i am NOT part of that and don’t want to be part of that. the thing that makes me not fully say “RIGHT ON!” is that i can’t judge whether those people are happy or not, or whether they want something or someone else. endless books and movies and art have been created based on this topic of the unhappy suburbanite – from American Beauty to Fake Plastic Trees – and in the real world high rates of infidelity and divorce, not to mention the economic disaster propelled by it, prove that the american dream isn’t as easy as we’d all like it to be. but does that make it a “wrong” way to want to live our life? i don’t think just because that lifestyle isn’t for me means it should be looked down upon as uncreative or a waste of life by default. sure, there are lot of unhappily married people out there who chose the “normal” path, but i do actually know a number of standard american families who seem quite happy. why hate on them?

    the thing that really irked me about this was the end. the assumption that anyone would give up their life so easily, so passively just because it wasn’t superfuckingspecial is really arrogant. in the end i think we all want to live, even if life isn’t what we wanted it to be.

    so at first i thought the little video was funny, but then by the end i was like: wow. could it be more judgmental? it’s fucking hard to find happiness in this world. give people a break.

  4. Hey Amy;

    I already replied to similar comments on your blog. Suffice it to say there is plenty of quiet desperation to go around for suburbanites and alternative living hipsters alike. We are all united in the inevitablility of a certain amount of inherent dissatisfaction in any lifestyle.

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