struggle, spirituality, absurdity

Category: Cultural Nonsense (page 2 of 2)

My Review of “New Moon” (And why I hated it)

I have a strong sense of smell. When I was a kid, my mom couldn’t sneak candy in the car without me sniffing it out (and then asking for some). It’s a blessing and a curse.

When I walked into the theater last Friday at 11:30am to see “New Moon,” I noticed that someone sitting behind us had been drinking. I was initially surprised by the smell as it was still early in the day, but considering he and I were both likely being forced to watch the movie by our significant others, I couldn’t judge him.

About 20 minutes into the movie, I was *this* close to turning around and asking him for some of whatever he had. Yes, the movie was bad. The dialogue was tepid at best, the cinematography was mediocre, and the movie itself reeked of melodrama – worse than my friend behind me and whatever cheap bourbon he had been sucking down.

But that really didn’t bother me that much. I’ve seen bad movies before, and I have an active enough imagination to be entertained while watching even the worst fermented garbage that Hollywood throws at us. Like “Mom and Dad Save the World” with John Lovitz. That movie is terrible. Terribly awesome, but still terrible.

I found myself becoming more and more uncomfortable the longer I watched the movie. No, it wasn’t the gratuitous scenes of sculpted boys and men taking their shirts off, though there was plenty of that. It was with the movie’s heroine, Bella. Listening to her talk and watching her react to life’s twists and turns (I won’t spoil anything for you in case you particularly hate yourself and are going to see it) became harder and harder to bear.

The reason is due to her complete and utter dependence on Edward (and a little on Jacob, too). We all depend on people to some extent. I think it was Thomas Merton John Donne that said “No man is an island.” But Bella is so dependent that she spends months sitting in her room being depressed because Eddy isn’t around anymore. Like I said, melodrama. However, I am incredibly unnerved by how much her character needs Ed around to feel happy.

That whole “You complete me” nonsense in a relationship is literal poison.

If someone bases their sense of self and well-being on another person with whom they are involved, they are setting themselves up either for a quick and meaningless  or a volatile (and possibly violent) relationship. It’s dangerous, psychologically and emotionally.

And yet, this is exactly how Bella approaches her life. Her entire sense of self revolves around Ed-the-love-machine. In anything other than a movie (and book), this would be a recipe for an incredibly unhealthy relationship. But no, it’s a movie, so everything works out in the end. She gets the Ed she needs in order to survive, and everything works out.

My fear is this: Do we really want to act like being co-dependent is a good thing? That sounds like a horrible idea.

Review of “The Narcissism Epidemic…”

You can check out the book here. I’m not associated with Amazon, I don’t get a kick-back, and I have no idea if that’s the cheapest you’ll find it. I do, however, recommend this book to everyone. If the authors are right, and I think they are, we as a culture are in a lot of trouble.

The authors’ main concern is narcissism – the belief that you are more special, more valuable, and more entitled than other people. These are the obnoxious types that decide they can park wherever they want, regardless of silly things like “laws.” They tend not to care about other people’s feelings, because they are their number one priority. They rack up insane amounts of debt, because they deserve that house they can’t afford! And they like to talk about themselves. Not surprisingly, destructive relationships haunt them like ducks following someone with bread.

But that’s not why this book is important. I could have learned about narcissism from wikipedia (I think – I don’t feel like looking it up right now).

The Narcissism Epidemic opens its readers’ eyes to the shallow, dangerous levels of narcissism that that have infused our culture. For example, did you know clinical data suggests that telling kids they are special and emphasizing that they should love themselves most (ie, self-esteem) actually leads to less success later in life? I sure didn’t. Now I’m angry that I was forced to take a “self-esteem” class in the fourth grade.

I blame that class for all of my failures in life. Actually, a classic narcissistic trait is the tendency to blame others for your own failures. Oops.

The authors present a great little crash course in current pop-culture trends, which is helpful for those that might be a little behind the times and don’t have ready access to high school students. But that isn’t why you should read this book.

They also give a fabulous twist on the current financial crisis, proposing that the narcissistic tendency to feel entitled to things and materialism without having actually earned anything has led to our current mess. Their point didn’t surprise me, because it makes so much sense. Instead, it scares me. We as a culture are so willing to kill ourselves with debt because we have a fall sense of entitlement – I deserve that new/bigger/faster <insert here>, even though I can’t actually afford it.

Scary stuff. But that still isn’t why you should read this book.

Read this book because you care about our future. The authors give advice for how to manage the lethal levels of narcissism swirling around our lives, and what they have to say is important.

Or read the book for yourself, for the sake of helping you manage your own narcissistic tendencies. Treat it like a self-help book. That’s part of the reason why I read it, but then again, I’m a narcissist.

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