Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Happiness in Slavery: Why Hollywood’s Vision of Adulthood Pretty Much Sucks

Posted by CinemaPsycho on July 1, 2012

Hey everyone! I want to start this article by sincerely thanking all the readers out there for getting us to over 30,000 hits. I never really envisioned this tiny little blog getting any attention whatsoever, so whether you’re a casual or constant reader, thanks for coming and reading my thoughts. It’s genuinely appreciated.

This is as good a time as any to discuss the future direction of the blog. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t really done an actual review in quite some time. The truth is, I really haven’t been interested in writing simple movie reviews for awhile now, and I don’t really foresee a time where that will change. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, of course, but it gets a little tiresome being one voice in 10 billion saying “yea” or “nay”. It’s like screaming into the wind. There are tons of other critics out there, and let’s face it, if you want reviews you’re most likely going to check out Roger Ebert or several other major critics before you come here. So it seems kind of pointless to write reviews of the latest films, especially when most of those other critics get to see them long before I do. Constantly playing catch-up is not my idea of fun.

I think if this blog has any value at all, it’s as a running commentary on the culture of movies. My personal favorite entries in recent years have been discussions more than reviews, whether it’s talking about the ending of Insidious, the bizarre false feminism of Bridesmaids or the prominence of Netflix over our current film culture. The irony is that when I switched over from a review site to a blog, I intended this to be a place where I could rant and rave like the Tasmanian Devil, but lately I consider myself more of a “voice of reason” than anything. At a time when any lunatic can post the most ridiculous and ill-informed opinions online, I find the most value in cutting through the constant insanity and simply trying to make logical sense of it all. So that’s what I intend to try to do from here on in, and I hope you’ll continue to join me in that effort. And it’s in that spirit that I present the following post.

This weekend saw the release of Seth McFarlane’s Ted, in which a young boy’s stuffed teddy bear comes to life and grows up with him as his best friend, to the annoyance of his girlfriend who wants him to “grow up” and leave the bear behind. Yes, this is yet another “man-child who needs to mature” comedy, a subgenre that we’ve seen plenty of times in the last several years. I haven’t actually seen Ted myself, as I can’t stand McFarlane’s animated shows or his sense of humor (though he appears to be a very bright guy in interviews), so I can’t speak to that. But I’ve really grown to despise the whole “man-child” thing, the notion that a person has to “leave childish things behind” in order to be a functional adult. I think it’s small-minded horseshit, and for such liberal, open-minded people, Hollywood sure seems to have a problem with single people who have interests outside of marriage and children, don’t they?

For example, the films of Judd Apatow seem to constantly portray single people as “losers” who need to grow up and get married already, and in order to do so they have to abandon the things they love. Steve Carell’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin has to sell his beloved action figure collection to move on with his life and hook up with Catherine Keener. Seth Rogen’s character in Knocked Up has to quit smoking weed and hanging out with his friends to be a good husband and father. Rogen also quits smoking weed in Pineapple Express (which Apatow produced), not even for a woman but just to be more of an adult. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera make the ultimate sacrifice at the end of Superbad – each other. Apparently entering the dating world and going to separate colleges means their close friendship has to end (what, they can’t email each other?). Bridesmaids – well, I don’t even know what the fuck that movie’s about. But you get the idea. And you know, I actually like most of Apatow’s films. I just don’t agree with the message they constantly deliver – that one has to lose all interest in the things they enjoy doing in order to be a grown-up. The question I always ask at the end of these movies is, Why?

Now, I’m not advocating that people need to be playing with teddy bears and watching Saturday morning cartoons (if that even still exists) in their parents’ house at the age of 35. Of course not. There are things we naturally lose interest in as we get older. And yes, people need to pay their bills, take responsibility for themselves and their actions, etc. Granted. But for fuck’s sake, you can be a mature, responsible adult and still have interests. You can still enjoy watching movies, listening to music, reading comic books, playing video games, whatever it is that you like to do. Anyone who would force you to give up what you love is not a person worth sacrificing anything for, in my book. Of course I’ve never been married and have never particularly wanted to be – but I sure as hell wouldn’t marry anybody who wouldn’t want me to enjoy doing the things I love to do. I would hope that person would share my interests and would want to enjoy those things with me. It doesn’t seem to work that way for a lot of people, and I just think that’s sad. If that’s what marriage is like, what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it.

Has it never occurred to Hollywood that maybe the definition of adulthood has changed since the outdated stereotypes of the 1950’s? Not everyone wants the house in the suburbs, the white picket fence or the 2.5 kids. I think true maturity is knowing who you are, and not everybody wants to be Ward Cleaver. We live in a culture where millions of people (including married people) spend countless hours on Facebook and Twitter – how is that any more productive than playing video games or obsessing over Doctor Who? It’s not. We get movies and music streamed through the Internet, but it’s somehow “immature” to enjoy them? I don’t understand that kind of thinking. Never have, never will.

There seems to be this regressive point of view that you’re somehow not an “adult” if your life consists of anything but endless drudgery. I know people who live like that – they’re dull, bitter and miserable, and they want everyone else to suffer the way they do. Thanks anyway, but it’s not for me. I’d rather spend as much of my time as possible enjoying the things I love than trying to live up to what other people want me to be. Trying so hard to be what society considers “normal” just drives you fucking crazy. At a certain point, you realize you’re better off without the approval of people you don’t respect anyway. I hear so many people talk about “societal pressures”, and frankly I think that’s all science fiction. The “gun to the head” scenario doesn’t exist. Frankly, I don’t think society gives a shit what we do, provided we’re not breaking the law. If your relatives are always on your case about getting married, that’s their issue, not yours. Let them remain stuck in their unhappy lives.

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Of course, I’m not saying that no one should ever get married either. But you should only do it if you’ve found the right person for you and it’s something that you actually want to do. Don’t do it because you think you’re supposed to. And if you do, don’t pretend that it’s the only choice in life and everyone else has to fall in line. Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it works for everybody. I’m so tired of people justifying their mistakes by saying “society made me”. Bullshit. No one is forced to get married to the wrong person or have kids they don’t want. You’re allowed to be single and you’re allowed to use birth control. Once you realize that, then you’ve truly “grown up”.

You know what my biggest regret in life is? It’s not that I never got married or that I never procreated. It’s that I wasted so much time trying to be a person I wasn’t, that I thought other people wanted me to be. And it never worked, because no one ever bought it. I spent my 20’s basically chasing a life that I never actually wanted but thought I needed. The day I “grew up” is the day I realized I wasn’t that person and I didn’t have to be. You reach adulthood when you finally get that you have to be yourself, and other people’s opinions of you don’t matter as much as your own. I’m at my absolute happiest when I’m enjoying the things I love, whether it be a great movie, a great song or even a great TV show (as rare as that is lately). I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly loves me would want to take those things away. It’s those things that got me through some very dark times, when no actual human beings were there for me. Why would I want to abandon them?

Oh, and I also regret that my childhood comic book collection got burned up in a car fire. Seriously.

I say that the things we love are what help get us through the day and help make life worth living. No, you don’t have to see every movie in existence; but you can see the ones that interest you in your spare time. If you love music but you work all the time, you can always listen in the car on your way there and back. They have these things called iPods now that supposedly make music really convenient. Most people get days off from their jobs, and kids generally go to bed at some point during the night. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not enjoying your life, it’s on you. Don’t blame your job or your kids if you choose to be a boring person. You can still have interests and be connected to the world around you, if you make a little effort.

So you know what I think? Whatever you love to do, do it as much as you want and enjoy the fuck out of it. If watching movies is what you love to do, then do it. If you love music, then listen to it whenever and wherever you can. If comic books are your thing, then love the shit out of those comic books. If you enjoy masturbating to old Gilda Radner SNL sketches with stuffed animals in your basement, then… well, seek professional help, but go ahead and have fun in the meantime. If no one comes along on the ride with you, then enjoy the ride by yourself. Don’t throw away the things that make you happy for anyone. If people think you’re “immature” for loving the things you love, then they’re fucking assholes and not worth changing for.

And seriously, don’t spend two seconds giving a damn what Hollywood thinks of you. Especially Judd Apatow. Anchorman is still the best thing he’s ever done anyway, and it doesn’t get much more immature than that. Lecture somebody else, buddy. You want to know what being “grown up” really means? Letting other people live their lives however they see fit. So grow up, Hollywood, and leave us single people alone. We don’t want to hear it.

2 Responses to “Happiness in Slavery: Why Hollywood’s Vision of Adulthood Pretty Much Sucks”

  1. linn said

    you have a soul with a spirit—make sure they are where they are suppose to be and not off track—if that intact!—-have fun and enjoy your life and with others who share the same earth…..there are many levels to explore. and people to meet. and creative projects just waiting for the right glue-pen-or hammer????

  2. CinemaPsycho said

    Thanks?? Seriously though, thanks for reading.

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